Teams to watch: Sonora won a second consecutive Sac-Joaquin Section title last year, and now the Wildcats want to make it three. It's a real possibility, given the talent coach Buzz Garvin has. Six starters, including three who have signed with colleges, lead the 'Cats -- who were 26-1-1 and finished second in one national poll last season. All-district pick Lexi Kopf has 92 goals in three seasons, and she is headed to UC Irvine with her sister Jordan Kopf (13 goals, seven assists last year), while Kayla Apland (Concordia University) shifts from defense to midfield. Rebekah Garvin is back in goal, after allowing just six goals in 28 matches last year. ... Beyer fell in the Division I semifinal to St. Mary's a year ago, but the return of Jennie Marshall -- The Bee's Player of the Year and a BYU recruit -- and all-district defender Alyssa Stearns could get the Patriots there again. They'll need to replace all-district goalie Alyssa Vilche. ... Modesto Christian is hoping to challenge defending Division V champ Hilmar and runner-up Ripon, and is counting on four all-leaguers -- defender Alyssa Crosby (128 steals), stopper Arielle Licata (92 steals), forward Sierra Licata (15 goals, 10 assists) and goalie Brandi Merafuentes. ... Hilmar (24-2) beat Ripon 1-0 in last year's section final and scorer Blake Lopes has the Yellowjackets out to a hot start this season. ... Ripon has built a strong program in recent years and wants another shot at Hilmar in the playoffs. That could happen with the return of potent scorers Renae McFadden and Meredith Perkins.
Players to watch: Johansen's looking to forward Elisabeth Freitas (four goals, six assists) and midfielder Brenna Rhoades (six goals, two assists) for goals, and Carly Koester returns to goal for a team hoping to compete for the MMC crown. ... Modesto sweeper Wendy Applegate is capable of containing potent attackers and supports all-MMC second-team goalie Kara Bowers. Sophomore Ellen Lee started at midfield as a freshman. ... Nicole Flamion is one of the district's best defenders, and Davis' scoring should get a boost with the return of all-MMC second-team forward Erin Ovalle and midfielder Lindsay Freeland, who was injured most of last season. ... Mariposa has explosive junior Jennifer Ritter (21 goals), as well as Denise Buskeness (nine goals, six assists) and Neesa Ludington (eight goals, six assists). The Grizzlies have nine experienced starters, though they're green at midfield. ... Central Catholic has a new coach in Martin Oliveira and he's counting on a nucleus of Stephanie Manseau, Devon Lapineas and Kendall Wesenberg to direct a defensive-minded team.
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