It was a good 2010-11 season for three of the local girls' soccer programs, as Burbank, Burroughs and Providence highs all qualified for the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
Two of the teams have new coaches this season. Eric Montoya, an assistant under Loi Phan, takes over the Bulldogs' program. At Burroughs, Eddie Garcia comes into the Indians' program for Louie Binda.
Burbank and Burroughs are coming off seasons in which they stayed in the hunt for the Pacific League championship late into the year, only to see Crescenta Valley come on to take the title.
Luckily for the Bulldogs and Indians, they both have their share of returning talent. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about the Pioneers, who will field a squad with not much experience.
Here is a closer look at hoe the teams are shaping up.
The Bulldogs (11-6-7) did lose some key players to graduation. The big loss was forward Anabell Gonzalez. A first-team all-league pick, Gonzalez was the Pacific League's most dangerous offensive weapon, scoring 18 goals to go with three assists.
Being a new coach, Montoya said the players have been receptive to his approach
"They are learning the style of play that I want," said Montoya, whose squad lost four seniors to graduation. "We've kind of changed a couple of things around but all in all it's been a good fit.
"We do have some talented freshmen and we're going to be young. I think we have just one senior on the team. But we look strong, and hopefully we'll be competing for a league title."
Burbank does return a solid core of athletes. Returning are junior midfielder Maddie Carlborg, junior forward Alessia Dal Monte, sophomore forward Clarissa Guerrero, junior defender Natalie Muller and sophomore defender Michelle Morales.
"That is a pretty good group right there," Montoya said. "We will be looking for them to carry most of the load for us."
Another pair of returners the coach is high on are sophomore defenders Yvette Niwa and Julianna Marx. New to the program is freshman forward Lauren Brenn.
The Bulldogs are dealing with the departure of starting goalkeeper Katie Hooper. Hooper, a junior All-CIF softball player, had surgery during the offseason and will not play this season.
"We are still trying to figure out the goalkeeper situation," Montoya said. "I have two keepers battling for the starting position."
Montoya said he expects Crescenta Valley, Arcadia and Burroughs to pose tough competition in the Pacific League.
Garcia takes over an Indians team that went 10-6-4 a season ago. The coach said it has been a challenging endeavor molding the program into what he expects from his players.
"This is one of the most challenging things I've done in my life," said Garcia, who went 44-6-6 as a boys' coach at L.A. City Section Fulton Prep in Van Nuys. "It's easy to tell kids to go here or go there, or do this and do that. But what I like to do is to build things from the bottom up, so when we get done we can be successful."
The Indians lost their share of players to graduation. In addition, Haley O'Brien, who played in the program for three years, isn't playing her season year and is instead in a youth developmental program.
Among the team's key returners are senior midfielder Josie Castellon, senior defender Riley Garden, sophomore midfielder Maria Gomez and senior goalkeeper Tatiana Sanchez.
"The group that we have looks good," Garcia said. "And we definitely have some talent. I'm sure we'll get results this year."
New to the team is junior forward Brittany Mata.
"I know there are some good teams in the [Pacific League]," Garcia said. "Arcadia and Crescenta Valley should be tough."
The Pioneers field a team with no club players. Having a squad with little experience will be a challenge according to Coach Kordo Doski.
"We have not one player who plays club soccer," Doski said. "That's really crazy. But these girls work hard and they are out there battling. It's going to be a tough year, but I like the character of the people on this team.
"My whole back line graduated and I think all but one starter is gone from last season."
The main players who Doski expects to step up this season are freshman forward Karni Boghokian, junior sweeper Caitlyn Markey and junior midfielder Liz Valez.
"Those are the three that should lead us," Doski said.
Doski said he expects the Liberty League to be tough, but he is hoping the Pioneers might sneak in and earn a postseason spot.