Five things to know about the Portage County girls soccer season

The Falcons celebrate a penalty-kick save in last year's Metro Athletic Conference Tournament title game.
The Falcons celebrate a penalty-kick save in last year's Metro Athletic Conference Tournament title game.

Here are five things to know about the upcoming Portage County girls soccer season:

1. Field flies toward the top of the Metro

The Falcons struck a seismic blow last season when they upset the Rocketsin the Metro Athletic Conference Tournament title game, but the truth is Field put itself on the map long before that night at Portage Community Bank Stadium, whether it was beating Suburban American foes Highland and Tallmadge or tying Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy. While the Falcons graduated a sizable senior class, there's no reason they can't repeat last year's success, especially with the return of one of the area's top scorers, Cassie Wilde, who tallied 37 goals in 2021, and one of the area's best midfielders in Taryn Allen. Indeed, one area coach had Field as their favorite to win the MAC in 2022.

2. Don't count out Streetsboro (and Norton)

One person who isn't installing the Falcons as the preseason favorite to win the MAC? Field coach Jason Schindler. Nope, the second-year coach certainly thinks he has the talent to win a title, but pointed out a number of dangerous league rivals, including but not limited to Streetsboro. Schindler had high praise for Norton, which tied with Streetsboro for the league title in 2020 before finishing third in the MAC last season. He noted the Panthers "have many solid players returning and a large incoming freshman class." Meanwhile, the Rockets, while they graduated a massive Class of 2022, can't be counted out after winning at least a share of three straight league titles. While Streetsboro graduated a serious amount of top-end talent (like Ella Deevers, Mariah Embry, Emma Flick and Kenzie Mobley), the Rockets still have 10 returning letterwinners and endless big-game experience.

3. Waterloo chases MVAC title

The Vikings, coming off their best season in recent memory (8-4-2), are nowhere near done. Indeed, Waterloo returns 12 letterwinners, just two of whom are seniors, potentially setting the table for some fun years in Atwater. (And not just because Vikings athletic director Mike Devies should make any top-ten list of Portage County comedic talent.) Junior Kaira English gets tons of attention, and, rightfully so, after scoring 54 goals, but she was just one of a few record-setting players for Waterloo last season as Sydney Jackson set the single-season assist mark (18) and Grace Yarian set the single-season saves mark (170). Meanwhile, Rose Couts pulled off a double-double (12 goals, 10 assists) before she even hit the basketball court last year. In short, the Vikings, whose three league losses were all competitive last season (8-6 and 6-3 to Crestview and 5-4 to Springfield), should be in title contention once again in 2022.

4. Rootstown, Southeast figure to battle for PTC title (again)

The Rovers and Pirates have had a near-stranglehold on the Portage Trail Conference for the past several seasons with Rootstown going undefeated in league play last season and Southeast snagging titles in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. The Rovers have had the edge of late, sweeping last year's series and winning four of their last five against the Pirates. Rootstown should be plenty formidable as well in 2022, returning the 2021 PTC Player of the Year, Rylee Durbak, along with four other first-team standouts: forward Carlee Clifford, defender Peighton King and midfielders Melanie Plecko and Natalie Opritza. Of course, Southeast has two of its own first team all-league returners in Sophia Fischer and Cami McPeak, with the two dangerous scorers combining for 19 goals last season, among its 20 returning letterwinners.

5. Garfield, Roosevelt return top talent

While the G-Men and Rough Riders both finished with losing records last season, they have two of the most talented players in the area. Roosevelt returns first team all-district standout Lea Parham, who tallied 10 goals, 8 assists and 28 points last soccer season before advancing to the state track and field meet in the hurdles last spring. Garfield boasts its own multi-sport star in Laura McCoy, who was an excellent soccer and basketball player (and golfer) for LaBrae a year ago. (McCoy previously played on the Vikings boys soccer team since they didn't have a girls program.)

This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Field, Rootstown, Southeast, Streetsboro, Waterloo chase titles