Varsity Soccer

Girls soccer preview: A look at the top 10 teams, players and storylines in Wichita

Carroll freshman stands out in regional final against Maize South

Carroll freshman Khloe Schuckman is becoming a household name after scoring two goals in the Eagles' 2-0 win in their Class 5A regional final against Maize South on Thursday.
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Carroll freshman Khloe Schuckman is becoming a household name after scoring two goals in the Eagles' 2-0 win in their Class 5A regional final against Maize South on Thursday.

Top 10 Teams

1. Bishop Carroll

The coaches’ preseason questionnaires reflected one constant: Bishop Carroll is going to be there again in Class 5A.

The Golden Eagles lost two key pieces in Hanleigh Allen and Maguire Sullivan, but they bring back exciting prospects such as sophomore Khloe Schuckman, junior Taryn Lubbers and junior Lauren Brooks.

If Carroll can get through the City League relatively unscathed, it will have a good shot at a manageable postseason.

2. Maize

Maize lost four All-AVCTL I first team selections, including both center backs.

The Eagles finished third in Class 5A last year, and though they bring back a winning culture, they will have some questions to answer in the back.

Toward the top, seniors Cammie Davis, Payton Eskridge and Kourtnee Davis, and junior Mallory Stegman will look to combine to keep them on top of the Wichita area.

3. Valley Center

Valley Center’s success was one of the unsung stories of 2018, and the Hornets are out to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

Coach Steen Danielsen’s team went 16-2-1 and lost in penalty kicks to Bishop Carroll in the sub-state championship last year. With talent across the pitch from senior defender Kelsey Ray to senior midfielder Emily Breault and sophomore forward Haley Sparks, the Hornets should be there again - if not one step further into the state tournament.

4. Kapaun Mt. Carmel

Kapaun had four pairs of sisters on last year’s roster. It’s time for the younger ones to take over.

The Crusaders will look vastly different in 2019. After falling to Maize in the sub-state championship, Kapaun lost five All-City League players.

Senior midfielder Emily Michaelis and juniors Ava Ayala, Molly Boulanger and Claudia Fury will need to fill the void left behind.

5. Wichita East

Although East didn’t make it to the state tournament last year, the Aces had a magical year, winning the City League outright for the first time in over a decade.

The target will be on their backs in 2019, and a solid core will be back to defend that title.

Brynn Walker, a senior defender and All-Metro selection, headlines the lineup. Fellow All-Metro pick goalkeeper Maria Vega returns along with seniors Savannah Young and Melissa Martinez.

6. McPherson

As most teams are, McPherson is looking to replace its top player from last season.

Forward Aislynn Hughes was named AVCTL III-IV MVP after a 28-goal, 15-assist season. But the Pups are coming with a strong midfield featuring seniors Hannah Hageman and Jaycee Burghart.

McPherson is looking to continue its winning pedigree in Class 5A after a third-place finish in 4-1A last year.

7. Maize South

Maize South lost one of its top goal scorers in Gaby Crowell, but the Mavericks bring back more than most.

Junior All-Metro selection Angela Palmer, junior Madison Minks, senior Kiley Sweet and junior Kaylee West are set to go after the AVCTL II title again and advance past the regional championship.

8. Derby

Derby lost its top goalkeeper from last year, a position that remains a bit of a question mark ahead of the 2019 season.

With sophomore All-Metro selection Brianna Moore recovering from a torn ACL, senior Marah Franke and juniors Sydney Nilles and Heather Mills will have to possess the ball.

9. Collegiate

At 12-4, Collegiate was one of the top teams in the area last year with arguably its best player.

Senior Maddie Reed is back after 31 goals and 23 assists in 2018. She will look to keep the Spartans’ motor running alongside Riley Ruffin and Paige Henry.

10. Eisenhower

Eisenhower finished 14-4 last year but was hidden in AVCTL II behind Maize South and Valley Center.

The Tigers will look to break through in 2019 behind a young team featuring sophomore defenders Hannah Schaffer and Lexi Jack, and senior forward Anna Wusterbarth.

Top 10 Players

1. Maddie Reed - Collegiate, Sr., Center Attacking Midfielder

Only one player had more goals, and none had more assists.

Maddie Reed led the Wichita area with 85 points last year on 31 goals and 23 assists. As she went, Collegiate went. The same will be true in 2019, her last go as a Spartan.

Reed, who earned All-Metro honors last season, averaged 5.3 points per game. She will need to continue to produce to leap McPherson toward an AVCTL III-IV title after finishing 12-4 last season

2. Angela Palmer - Maize South, Jr., Attacking Midfielder

Few players in the state provide the creative gene Angela Palmer possesses.

With footwork, vision, accurate passing and a cracking right foot, Palmer is one of the more complete players in the Wichita area, finishing with 19 goals and 18 assists in route to an All-Metro selection last season.

Maize South finished 15-2-1 in 2018, tied with Valley Center atop AVCTL II. The Mavericks will need her to produce to have a shot at repeating.

3. Brianna Moore - Derby, So., Forward

Brianna Moore surprised the entire state last year, but there is a year of tape on her now.

Moore broke the Derby single-season goal record last year with 35 as a freshman. But there is a problem. Moore is working back from a torn ACL, and coach Paul Burke said he is unsure of the timetable for her return.

When or if Moore, an All-Metro selection last year, gets back on the pitch this season, she will be must-see entertainment.

4. Brynn Walker - Wichita East, Sr., Center Back

Brynn Walker is a powerhouse defender who was to main defensive reason for East’s City League title last year.

An All-Metro selection last year, Walker swept the postseason accolades with all-league and all-state honors. There will be a lot of new faces for the Aces, particularly in Walker’s center back partner, but with her back there, a clean sheet is always a possibility.

Walker neutralizes every opponents top scorer and will be expected to do the same in 2019.

5. Taryn Lubbers - Bishop Carroll, Jr., Midfielder

Since May, Taryn Lubbers has had a hip avulsion fracture, knee surgery and ankle surgery, but she is back.

Bishop Carroll lost its top player on either end of the field but retained its top option in the midfield. Lubbers finished with six goals and 11 assists last year, and those numbers are expected to rise.

A Kansas State commit, Lubbers has the creative ability and quick feet on the ball to make defenses second guess every step.

6. Khloe Schuckman - Bishop Carroll, So., Forward

Hanleigh Allen has graduated, which means it’s time for the next in line.

Khloe Schuckman is one of the quickest players in the Wichita area, and it showed as a freshman last year. When Allen went down with injury, Schuckman filled in nicely with eight goals - most of which came late in the season.

7. Emily Breault - Valley Center, Sr., Midfielder

Half of the midfield machine is gone, but Emily Breault has the ability to make up for the graduation of Emma Girtz, an All-Metro selection last year.

Breault finished with 15 goals and seven assists last year. She will be key to creating chances for sophomore striker Haley Sparks while manufacturing some of her own.

8. Emily Michaelis - Kapaun Mt. Carmel, Sr., Midfielder

Emily Michaelis will serve as a source of trust in the midfield.

A City League second team selection last year, Michaelis is signed to play at Washburn upon her graduation and returns after a 10-goal, three-assist season.

9. Payton Eskridge - Maize, Sr., Forward

After dropping to defense last year, Payton Eskridge went down with a season-ending knee injury. The Newman commit is set to move up top again and contribute to one of the most dynamic attacks in the area.

10. Marah Franke - Derby, Sr., Midfielder

Finishing with six goals and 13 assists last year, Marah Franke was key to Derby’s 14-4-1 record last season and will be even more critical to the Panthers’ success in 2019. She has a keen eye for goal but isn’t afraid to put the ball on a platter for her teammates.

3 Storylines

1. Getting over the hump

Another year went by without a state championship brought back to the Wichita area.

Only one girls soccer team has won a title out of the Wichita area in the 26 years of the sport’s sanctioned existence in Kansas. Trinity Academy did it in 2014 in Class 4-1A, but that was it.

The usual suspects are expected to be back in contention. Bishop Carroll and Maize should contend with the likes of St. Thomas Aquinas and Blue Valley Southwest in Class 5A.

Wichita East will look to sneak back into the state tournament and compete with two-time defending champion Blue Valley West.

But Valley Center, Kapaun and McPherson figure into the equation this year to turn one title into two and put Wichita girls soccer back on the map in Kansas.

2. Staying healthy

Every week during the offseason it seemed another Wichita area standout was posting to social media about a crippling injury.

Bishop Carroll’s Taryn Lubbers, Derby’s Brianna Moore, Campus’ Yaya Puentes, and Maize’s Payton Eskridge, Mallory Stegman and Marissa Llamas are all fully or almost fully recovered from viscious injuries that kept them out for up to 12 months.

Health is key to any team in any sport, but with the margin of error seemingly so slim against the Kansas City area teams, every player becomes critical.

3. Watching the City League title race

The City League was the most entertaining, unpredictable race to watch last season and figures to double down in 2019.

Wichita East won the league outright for the first time since 2004 and will be the hunted. Bishop Carroll and Kapaun are considered the top two contenders.

But Wichita Northwest almost always finishes in the top half, and North has given the league’s bests an upset or two that could tip the balance late in the title push.

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