Coach: Angela Camp, fifth season
Last season: 15-4-1
Key returners: F Callie Fagan (Sr.), MF Alexis Sherman (Sr.), D Morgan Dech (Sr.), GK Allie Strunk (Sr.)
Key newcomers: MF Allie Norris (Fr.)
What to know: The 2018 season was an unequivocal breakout for the Bulldogs, as they won the most games of any county program and beat Collins Hill in the first round of the state playoffs. Six senior starters from that team are gone, but standout returners like midfielder Alexis Sherman and forward Callie Fagan, who scored 15 goals to earn All-County Player of the Year, give the Bulldogs a solid returning core. Central looks to have a chance to sustain last season’s success, although the region appears to be a good deal more competitive than before.
Coach: Eric Swanburg, first season
Last season: 6-11-2
Key returners: MF Riley McBride (Sr.), F Lyndsey Francingues (Sr.), F Maria Walsh (Sr.), F Lauren Kelly (Sr.)
Key newcomers: GK Livi Ellington (Fr.), MF Kaitlyn Fierle (Fr.)
What to know: With the retirement of Tom Braun, the War Eagles now have individual head coaches for each varsity team, and former Cambridge head coach and West Forsyth assistant Eric Swanburg takes over for the South girls. The War Eagles were one of the county teams ravaged by the loss of top players to the girls’ Development Academy last year, but they’re getting one important talent back in forward Lauren Kelly, a Kennesaw State signee. With Berry commits Maria Walsh and Lyndsey Francingues also leading the offense, South is looking for a quick rebound from last season’s losing record.
Coach: Jason Galt, first season
Last season: 8-10-2, lost in state quarterfinals
Key returners: GK A.J. Needham (Sr.), MF Amanda Ewers (Jr.), D Isa Aguilar (So.)
Key newcomers: MF Courtney Jebavy (So.), F Emma Armstrong (Fr.), F Ava Martin (Fr.)
What to know: Of the county teams significantly affected by the DA last year, the Wolverines probably made out the best. West finished third in the region and won its first-round playoff game, aided by an experienced midfield and the all-around contributions of Karson Rosenberger, now at Mercer. The Wolverines return 15 players who saw the field last year, including All-County midfielder Amanda Ewers and four-year starter A.J. Needham at goalkeeper, so they look to be another team on the up in a crowded Region 5-7A.
Coach: Jared Steinberg, fourth season
Last season: 7-10-1
Key returners: MF Emma Williams (Jr.); D Tyler Hitt (Sr.); MF Breanne Emory (Sr.); GK Savannah Cummings (Sr.); D Abby Williams (Sr.)
Key newcomers: F Isabel Sanchez (Fr.)
What to know: The Raiders expected some improvement in their standing in the county, with the massive effects of the DA program last season, but they still failed to win a game against a Region 5-7A opponent. With the return of many of those DA players to the high school ranks, it probably won’t get easier for North this season. Steinberg, who now handles solely the girls program after coaching both teams previously, is confident about the Raiders’ defense and senior goalkeeper Savannah Cummings but less so about their offense. The impact of talented freshman Isabel Sanchez could be a factor in North’s overall success.
Coach: Scott Luthart, 10th season
Last season: 8-9-1
Key returners: D Emma Baumbick (Sr.), D Melina West (Jr.), MF Maddie Franz (So.), GK Maddie Schulte (Jr.), F Katelyn Castelli (Jr.), MF/F Reagan Donnelly (Sr.)
Key newcomers: D Sydney Hennessey (Jr.), F Maddie Haugen (Jr.), MF Brooke Schuyler (Sr.), D Ellie Prybylski (Sr.), MF Ellie Christensen (Jr.)
What to know: If there’s any team whose 2018 performance needs context, it’s the Longhorns. Lambert won the 2017 state title in dominant fashion, but then failed to make the playoffs at all in their follow-up season. The Longhorns have a strong chance to slingshot back to dominance, though, for the same reason they dropped off in the first place: The Development Academy. Sydney Hennessey, Madison Haugen and Ellie Prybylski, all either committed or signed to major-conference programs, have left the DA ranks and are back to playing high school ball. Those players, along with returners like Katelyn Castelli, Reagan Donnelly and Ellie Christensen, figured into the state title team, so the Longhorns should have a strong chance to return to heavyweight status.
Coach: Domenic Martelli, fourth season
Last season: 11-9, lost in the Class 1A state semifinals
Key returners: D Haley Triplett (Sr.), D Olivia Gannon (Sr.), MF Grace Aufleger (Sr.), GK Caroline Jeffcoat (Sr.), D Emily Buckley (Sr.), D Sarah Brown (Jr.), F Allison Doerr (Jr.), MF Sofia Alvarez Del Pino (So.), MF Jaylynn Moreno (So.), D Meghan Sullivan (So.)
Key newcomers: F Ivey Crain (Fr.), F Maddison Zager (Fr.), GK Kathleen Prados (Fr.)
What to know: The Paladins had the deepest postseason run of any county team last season, and despite losing their most prolific scorer in Regina Metz, most important pieces of that team are back for Pinecrest. Haley Triplett, a Georgia State signee, will lead a deep defense, and returning All-County forward Allie Doerr, who scored 17 goals and assisted on 10 more last year, will help drive the offense.