Peninsula Athletic League Bay Division girls’ soccer play began Tuesday with every team shooting to dethrone defending champion Aragon, which returns with a slew of all-league players this season.
“We’re in a powerful position. All the puzzle pieces are there for us,” Aragon coach Will Colglazier said. “All that experience, knowing how we do things is going to make this season special.”
Aragon returns seven of its nine all-league players from a team that reached the Central Coast Section Division II semifinals last season, including Co-Defensive Player of the Year Rachel Killibrew and first-teamer Stevie Herrera.
Woodside coach Jose Navarette said Aragon is the favorite.
“They’re physical, experienced ... the team to beat,” Navarette said.
Aragon has 17 juniors and seniors on its squad, many of which were part of last year’s semifinals team and the 2010 CCS championship team.
Woodside brings back three all-league players, but Navarette said his team needs to become more physical.
“I think there’s a lot going to be a lot of growing pains if we don’t toughen up,” Navarette said. “It’s a brutal league.”
Freshmen Lauren and Madison Holland have burst onto the scene and made immediate impacts for the Wildcats.
“She just shows flashes of brilliance,” Navarette said of Lauren. “Let her get eight to nine PAL games. She’s someone we’re going to lean on for a couple of years to come.”
Not to be outdone, San Mateo brings back six all-league players, including first teamers Shannon Wischek and Danielle Coyle.
Navarette said he thinks the surprises in the league may come out of Menlo-Atherton or Carlmont.
M-A scored 19 goals in its first six matches, with 13 of them coming from two players.
Jennifer Kirst scored eight goals and collected 18 points in those six games, while Meryssa Thompson scored five goals on eight shots.
“M-A is one of the most talented teams around,” Navarette said.
Colglazier said M-A is the one team he will be keeping an eye on as the season rolls on in large part to Kirst and Meryssa.
Terra Nova may be the team to sneak up on people, as they bring one all-league player back and a group of players from the Bay Division’s junior varsity championship team last season.
“What’s special about the PAL, there isn’t two halves of the league,” Colglazier said about the league’s competitiveness.
Six Bay teams reached the CCS playoffs last season, with two reaching the semifinals.