Snohomish’s Jada Edelbrock (7) tries to turn while being tightly marked by Stanwood’s Espy Sanchez (left) defends during a Nov. 1, 2016 game at Shoreline Stadium. Sanchez is regarded as one of the best all-around players in the Wesco 3A Division this season. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Prep girls soccer preview: 5 storylines to watch

Related: Senior goalie looks to lead Jackson back to 4A state tournament

Here are five storylines to watch from the local prep girls soccer scene this fall:

1. There might not be much change at the top of Wesco 4A. Last season, Jackson edged Kamiak and Lake Stevens for the Wesco 4A title. Entering this season, the Timberwolves and Knights look to be on top of the conference, according to Vikings coach Andy Knutson. Jackson, which advanced to the 4A state tournament quarterfinals last year, will be led by midfielder Jadyn Edwards, who has verbally committed to continue her soccer career at the University of New Mexico. Kamiak, which also qualified for the 4A state tournament in 2016, will rely on the contributions of all-conference players Sidney Schmidt (midfield) and forward Kailin Wiley, who’s “as fast as (heck),” according to Knutson. “We have eight returning seniors this year, so they are really excited,” said Knights coach Beth Stewart.

2. Snohomish and Stanwood are looking to jump to top of Wesco 3A. There could be some new challengers for the Wesco 3A title this fall. “Snohomish has talented midfielders and forwards. They were young last year and finished second in districts,” said Arlington coach Nathan Davis. “Stanwood has a very strong midfield and one of the top players in the league (Espy Sanchez) back as a senior. Shorecrest is always strong and solid. (It has) a great midfield and defense back.” Some of the conference’s top players include Marysville Getchell forward Oshinaye Taylor (“Great scorer,” Davis said), Stanwood forward/midfielder Sanchez (“Great player all around”) and Marysville Pilchuck forward Trina Davis (“Elite athlete, can play all over”).

3. Arlington will miss its star goalkeeper until she returns. The Eagles won the Wesco 3A championship and advanced to the 3A state tournament quarterfinals last season on the strength of their defense; they allowed just 15 goals in 21 games. But they lost three defenders to graduation, and will be inexperienced in the back this fall. That’s why they’ll need goalkeeper Brielle Schrader back on the field. Schrader, a second-team all-state pick a year ago, suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in December, had surgery in February and hopes to return for the second half of this season. “She is a very tough and stubborn young lady,” Davis said. “She is determined to get back and has worked very hard in physical therapy to get back. Her strengths are her speed and quickness. She is small but very quick and aggressive. She is also the verbal leader.”

4. The path to the Cascade Conference title still goes through Archbishop Murphy. The Wildcats took third place at the 2A state tournament last season and return several key players from that team, including all-conference defender Emily Schwartz, midfielder Gabi Koch and forward Lexie Klaudt. “(Lexie) played great late in the season last year and should continue (to do so) this season. She’s a player to watch,” Archbishop Murphy coach Michael Bartley. Cedarcrest and King’s appear to be in the strongest position to challenge the Wildcats in the Cascade Conference. “Cedarcrest has several returning players and a large player pool to choose from,” Bartley said. “King’s traditionally (is) a strong team with a very good head coach.”

5. Not seeing your favorite player? Check an academy. There are a number of players who won’t play for their high school teams this season due to their commitments to developmental academies, according to Knutson. “(We’ve) lost two players to the Crossfire DA (Redmond) team this year,” he said. “These teams do not allow girls to play high school soccer, and this is the first year in Washington that girls teams are a part of the ‘academy.’”

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