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West Michigan Conference 2022 girls soccer preview: Team-by-team capsules

Reigning state champion North Muskegon is again the team to beat.

North Muskegon’s girls soccer team completed the dream season last spring, capturing the Division 4 state championship in convincing fashion.

It’s the first state soccer championship in school history.

The Norse return a lot of talent from that squad. They’ll be looking to defend their West Michigan Conference title and make another deep postseason run.

The 2022 season has already kicked off, but it will start moving quickly after spring break.

Conference coaches were asked to anonymously predict the order of finish in the league. Here’s how it looks based upon the responses CatchMark received:

  • North Muskegon
  • Montague
  • Oakridge
  • Whitehall
  • Ravenna
  • Hart
  • Shelby
  • Mason County Central

Here are team-by-team preview capsules, arranged alphabetically:

HART PIRATES

Coach: Joseph Gilbert (4th season)

Last year’s records: 3-14 overall (1-6 WMC, 7th place)

Returning starters:

Maricruz Andaverde (Sr., GK)

Crystal Lara (Jr., D)

Marissa Goodrich (So., D)

Cristelia Rangel (So., M)

Sydney Goodrich (So., M)

Julia Greiner (Jr., F)

Yamille Zarraga (Sr., F)

Sandy Salgado (Jr., F)

Returning letterwinners:

Melanie Arjona (Jr., D)

Anngelena Karas (Jr., GK)

New varsity prospects:

Devyn Adams (Fr., F/M)

Kailey Edenburn (Fr., M/D)

Breslyn Porter (Fr., F/M)

Brooklyn Storms (Fr., M)

Athena Thocher (So., F/M)

Ashley Guardiola (Jr., D)

Returning stat leaders:

Sandy Salgado (10 goals, 1 assist; all-district)

Julia Greiner (2 goals, 8 assists; all-district)

Sydney Goodrich (3 goals, 3 assists, 42 steals; all-district)

Marissa Goodrich (40 steals; all-district)

Cristelia Rangel (3 goals, 1 assist; all-district)

Yamille Zarraga (2 goals, 1 assist)

Season outlook: Hart is looking to pick up where it left off last season, when the Pirates made tremendous strides and finished playing well. The team should be improved this season and will look to concede fewer goals and score more compared to last season. The Pirates should be quicker and will have cover in positions they didn’t last season. One of Hart’s strengths entering this season is experience. Last year, the Pirates did not have a single player with varsity experience and only a handful of players with 11-on-11 experience.

This is Mason County Central’s 2022 girls varsity soccer team. Front row, from left: Mya Sterley, Gabby Jensen, Bronwyn Stevens, Charlie Banks, MeKenzie Brennan, Grace Miller, Madison Kaiser Back row, from left: Head coach April Gajeski, Adria Quigley, Lily Stone, Nicole Bowen, Ashlyn McKay, Eva Hradel, Priscilla Johnson, Hannah Thurow, Sereniti Johnson, Emily Herndon Missing from photo: Assistant coaches Chris Gajeski and Xander Gajeski

MASON COUNTY CENTRAL SPARTANS

Coach: April Gajeski (1st season)

Last year’s record: N/A

Returning starters:

Nicole Bowen (Sr., D)

Adria Quigley (Sr., F)

Mya Sterley (Sr., F)

Bronwyn Stevens (Sr., M)

Lily Stone (Sr., M)

Charlie Banks (Jr., D)

Gabby Jensen (Jr., GK)

Madison Kaiser (Jr., F)

Ashlyn McKay (Jr., D)

Season outlook:

According to first-year coach Gajeski, the team goal is to improve from last year. The Spartans placed eighth in the conference last season.

MONTAGUE WILDCATS

Coach: Kara Raeth (5th season)

Last year’s records: 12-5 overall (5-2 WMC, third place)

Returning starters:

Emma Dyer (Sr., D)

Ella King (So., D)

Emma Peterson (So., D)

Payton Johnson (Jr., M)

Kendal Osborne (So., W)

Katie Nuttall (Jr., W)

New varsity prospects:

Braylyn Bultima (Fr., F)

Ava Pelton (Fr., D/M/F)

Addison Pranger (Fr., GK)

Returning stat leader:

Kendal Osborne (second-most goals last season behind Emma Jensen last season with 13)

Season outlook: Montague is looking to finish better than last season in the conference and district. The Wildcats have a very young team, so they’ll be relying on their returning players to really step up and help lead on the field.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

NORTH MUSKEGON NORSEMEN

Coach: Caleb Parnin (2nd season, 4th overall as a coach)

Last year’s records: 20-1-1 overall (7-0 WMC, first place)

Returning starters:

Natalie Pannucci (Jr., F)

Katie Kinahan (So., M)

Spencer Zizak (So., M)

Kennedi Koekkoek (So., D)

Molly Stewart (Jr., D)

Grace Vander Woude (Sr., D)

Emily Judd (Sr., D/F)

Returning letterwinners:

Allie Jensen (So., M)

Emma Lamiman (So., GK)

Abby Martinez (So., D)

New varsity prospects:

Izze DeJonge (So., F)

Natalee Lindell (So., F)

Samantha Johnson (Jr., F)

Returning stat leaders:

Natalie Pannucci (18 goals, 10 assists)

Katie Kinahan (6 goals, 6 assists)

Emily Judd (6 goals, 6 assists)

Season outlook: North Muskegon returns a lot of lot of talent, charisma and positive energy from last year’s team, which captured the first state soccer championship in school history. Parnin said the Norse’s goal is to improve every single weight-lifting session, practice, scrimmage and game. “We want to commit ourselves to the learning process,” he said. “Our motto for the year is the word ‘Muditā,’ which means vicarious joy for one another. It is our hope that this year we can be genuinely happy for our teammates and our team in its success.”

OAKRIDGE EAGLES

Coach: Greg Fleener (7th season)

Last year’s records: 7-12 overall (4-3 WMC, fourth place)

Returning starters:

Izzy Glassford (Sr., GK)

Bri Benson (Sr., D/M)

Ali Ehnen (Sr., M)

Saidee Raap (Sr., S)

Brianna Schaallema (So., D)

Kate Utzinger (So., D/M)

Returning letterwinners:

Cara Morse (So., D)

Ellie DeWitte (Jr., M)

Haley Seewald (Jr., M)

Kyle Lacy (So.)

New varsity prospects:

Kya Minor (Sr., D)

Cadence Veen (Jr.)

Adara DeWolf (Jr.)

Serenity Carlisle (So.)

Kaylee Hoeker (Jr.)

Helene Myrvang (exchange student from Norway)

Josi Bohne (exchange student from Germany)

Destiny Bowen (Fr.)

Returning stat leaders:

Saidee Raap (second-leading scorer last year, third in assists)

Izzy Glassford (one of the top keepers in the conference and district last year)

Season outlook: Oakridge has a core of experienced seniors down the middle of the pitch, Fleener said. The Eagles’ youth, including several sophomores, will play key roles as well. He expects Oakridge to compete well this spring coming off a season when injuries and COVID-19 took their toll. Several key spots in the lineup will be up for grabs, as the Eagles lost six senior starters to graduation from last year’s team. Fleener expects competition for starting spots to be tough. He said that hopefully that competition will make Oakridge a better and deeper team this season.

RAVENNA BULLDOGS

No info submitted

SHELBY TIGERS

Coach: Pete Peterson (7th season)

Last year’s records: 5-15 overall (3-4 WMC, fifth place)

Returning starters:

Morgan Frees (Sr.)

Leslie Vega (Sr.)

Ella Olmstead (Sr.)

Ashley Miller (Sr.)

Aubrey Klotz (Jr.)

Haydee Pendroza (Jr.)

Isabel Omness (Jr.)

Kendal Zaverl (So.)

New varsity prospects:

Jenny Avilez (Sr.)

Andrea Parker (Jr.)

Desirae Melchor (Jr.)

Emma Soelberg (Jr.)

Gladys Moncada Pineda (Jr.)

Briseda Brito (Jr.)

Mya Ramos (Jr.)

Martine Alstad-Evjen (exchange student from Norway)

Dulce Mendieta (Sr.)

Jazlyn Arreola (Sr.)

Returning stat leaders:

Morgan Frees (8 goals, 2 assists)

Haydee Pendroza (6 goals, 7 assists)

Isabel Omness (1 goal, 3 assists)

Season outlook: Shelby graduated eight seniors from last year’s team and all of them were starters, including standout goalkeeper Lexi Schultz. The Tigers return four seniors this season, plus they’re bringing in a solid group of players from the junior varsity level. They’re looking to improve upon last year’s win total and move up in the conference standings. As this year’s team comes together, Peterson said, team chemistry and leadership will determine how well the Tigers can perform. “We have a lot of good pieces, but I am not sure how they fit together yet,” he said.

Photos by Scott DeCamp | CatchMark

WHITEHALL VIKINGS

Coach: Adam Prince (1st season at Whitehall, 18-plus years of coaching experience)

Last year’s records: 9-7 overall (5-2 in WMC, third place)

Returning starters:

Maggie Evans (Sr.)

Ryleigh Mott (Sr.)

New varsity prospects:

Avery Thomas

Charley Klint

Marrisa Strandberg

Audrey Conners

Returning stat leader:

Maggie Evans (31 goals, 9 assists; became Whitehall’s all-time leading goal-scorer with 77 in only two seasons)

Season outlook: According to Prince, the season outlook is to do better together. With a new head coach, assistant coach and lots of new faces, it’s still too early to look at strengths or weaknesses, Prince said.

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