PLAYERS TO WATCH
- A.J. Adam (Iowa City Regina): Senior midfielder was first-team all-stater in Class 1A last season.
- Austin Bergstrom (Cedar Rapids Washington): Four-year starter for Warriors. Only Iowa prep named to National Soccer Coaches Association of America’s boys’ all-American team.
- Eric Dunkel (Dyersville Beckman): Senior midfielder was first-team all-state pick in 1A in 2012.
- Austin Errthum (Mid-Prairie): Played in just 14 games last season. Yet scored 18 goals. That’ll get you all-state honors, in this case first team in 1A.
- Kyle Grover (Dyersville Beckman): Junior striker was among state leaders last season with 27 goals.
- Colin Gunn (Cedar Rapids Xavier): Second-team all-MVC midfielder last season.
- Kimu Kasha (Cedar Rapids Washington): Gives Warriors two returning all-staters. Second-team pick in Class 3A last season.
- Paris Martins (Iowa City West): First-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference selection at midfield. Gives Warriors two returning all-staters. Second-team pick in Class 3A last season.
- Luke Mennen (Iowa City High): One of the top defenders around. A first-team all-Mississippi Valley Conference pick.
- Fernando Pacheco (Iowa City High): Senior midfielder was a first-team all-state pick a season ago in Class 3A. Had 20 goals and 17 assists in 18 games. Was MVC Mississippi Division player of year.
- Aaron Schmitz (Iowa City Regina): Senior striker ranked second in 1A last season with 27 goals. Good enough for first-team all-state honors.
- Mueng Sunday (Iowa City West): Two-time all-state selection at midfield. Was finalist for Gatorade player of the year in Iowa last season.
TEAMS TO WATCH
- Cedar Rapids Kennedy: Who’s the best team in the Metro? Might be these guys. Cougars are 10th in 3A preseason and return six starters, led by midfielder Killian Magee, a second-team all-MVC pick and first-team all-Metro selection in 2012.
- Cedar Rapids Washington: Also a strong contender for best Metro club. Starts with returning all-staters Austin Bergstrom and Kimu Kasha. Junior defender Jacob Bjornsen was an all-MVC player last season. Wash is No. 12 in 3A preseason rankings.
- Dyersville Beckman: Stunned by Nevada in 1A state tourney quarterfinals as an unbeaten (in regulation) No. 2 seed. Entire roster, minus one player, returns. That includes first-team all-state midfielder Eric Dunkel. Strikers Kyle Grover and Adam Noethe had 27 and 23 goals, respectively, in 2012. Will this team be motivated by its early state exit last season? You’d have to think so.
- Iowa City High No. 2 seed at last year’s state tournament was upset in quarterfinals by West Des Moines Valley. Returns MVC Mississippi Division player of the year in midfielder Fernando Pacheco and first-team all-MVC defender Luke Mennen, among others. Little Hawks begin season ranked fourth.
- Iowa City Regina: Had string of three Class 1A championships ended by Waterloo Columbus in penalty kicks in last year’s semifinals, and those two begin this season ranked 1-2. Regals have three returning all-state players in A.J. Adam, Aaron Schmitz (both first team) and Nick Dolezal (second team). Another great season ahead.
- Iowa City West: Defending Class 3A state champs are loaded with returning players. And good ones, like midfielders Mueng Sunday and Paris Martins, defender Aaron Miller and goalkeeper Ryan Holte. Appears to be the Trojans’ title to lose.