Coach: Phil Rouse (seventh season)
2013 record: 14-2-2
Key returners: Kayla Perkins, sr., D/M; Maddie Frye, sr., GK; Morgan Beaty, sr., F/M; Abby Hickey, sr., F/M; Maddie Krmenec, sr., D/M; Ayslin Nachman, sr., F/M
Outlook: The Barbs lost eight seniors from last year's team. However, DeKalb will be bumped back down to Class 2A for the postseason.
DeKalb is led by a group of five seniors who are four-year varsity players, something Rouse said has only happened once during his tenure as the head coach.
Rouse's take: "We've got five sophomores and a freshmen. We have 12 players that we have to kind of mix in. They're all going to have to play some big minutes for us. This is about as deep a team as we've had."
Coach: Randy Tate (ninth season)
2013 record: 8-13 (5-7 Big Northern Conference)
Key returners: Alyssa Edwards, sr., GK; Nicole Hebel, jr., M; Viviana Beltran, jr., F; Ashley Grimm, jr., M; Allie Pfeiffer, sr., D; Katie McCluskey, jr., D
Impact newcomers: Maggie Bouque, fr., M; Danyelle Crozier, fr., D
Outlook: The Cogs get a boost with the return of Grimm. Hebel should be at full strength for the entire season after tearing her ACL as a sophomore. G-K will look to replace the scoring prowess of Shannon Schumacher but should be a force after switching over to the BNC West.
Tate's take: "Looking to be competitive in all our games this season. Number of athletes is up from last year. Looking for someone to step up and be team leader right from the beginning."
Coach: Paul Taeuber (sixth season)
2013 accomplishments: 12-7-2, Class 1A regional champion
Key returners: Lauren Paver, sr., F; Jacqueline Madden, jr., M; Caitlin Flanigan, sr., D
Impact newcomers: Annie Kossman, fr.; Meghan Menzel, fr.; Hannah Muller, fr.
Outlook: H-BR will be hoping to build off of last year's regional championship. Two starters are gone from last season, but all-area basketball players Paver and Madden should again be scoring threats for the Royals.
Taeuber's take: "Bring back a solid core who wants to build on what they did last year and compete against any team they play. Seven new freshman add depth but also inexperience that will hopefully be ready come IHSA postseason."
Coach: Luke Anderson (third season)
2013 accomplishments: 11-4-4, Class A regional champion
Key returners: Emily Schilling, jr., M; Bailey Martenson, jr., M; Madison Spooner, jr., F; Josie Diehl, so., GK
Impact newcomers: Arianna Ward, fr., D; Renee Corriveau, fr., F
Outlook: Indian Creek lost a handful of key senior leaders from last year's team that broke through with the program's first regional title. Schilling will continue to split time between track and soccer, but was the team's leading scorer last year. Diehl posted 11 shutouts in the team's 19 games last year as a freshman.
Anderson's take: "It helps a ton when you have good positive and encouraging leaders on the team. Christina was a great leader her last year, but she wasn't our top scorer. It's nice to know that the rest of the team did a lot of the scoring. She was a huge asset to the team with her leadership role."
Coach: Scott Parillo (10th season)
2013 record: 11-5-3
Key returners: Michelle Ortiz, sr., GK/M/F; Delaney Stryczek, sr., D/M; Jessica Coia, sr., F/M; Brittany Olson, sr., M/F
Impact newcomers: Taylor Zitkus, fr. D; Holly Collingbourne, fr., M; Paige Guyton, fr. M; Lauren Ortiz, fr. M
Outlook: Kaneland will have to replace goalkeeper Jordan Ginther, who is now playing at Purdue, but the Knights return eight starters from last year's team that took second in the conference.
Parillo's take: "We should be competitive in our games this year, and should be competing for conference."
Coach: Dave Lichamer (13th season)
Record: 9-12-2, Class 3A regional champions
Key returners: Katherine Kohler, sr., M/F; Paige Kohler, sr., D; Alyssa Hemmerich, jr., M/F; Janae Carlson, jr., D; Alexis DeVita, jr., M; Alyssa Maillefer, jr., M; Amy Schroeder, sr., M; Emily Cook, sr., D; Anna Haub, so., D/M; Amanda Cook, so., GK
Impact newcomers: Mallory Wolf, jr., M; Drew Moulton, jr., GK
Outlook: Sycamore returns a lot of experience from last year's team that won a regional title before running into Freeport in the sectional semifinals. Moulton, who is committed to Western Illinois, takes over as the starting goalkeeper after choosing to play club soccer last spring.
Lichamer's take: "It is early to tell, but what's nice is having the number back that we have. It really helps. It gives me a sense of peace knowing that when we'll get out there, we're not going in there completely blind or fumbling around and figuring how what we're supposed to be doing."
- Ross Jacobson, email@example.com