There was no stopping Hayley Dowd and Peabody last season, and there’s really no reason to think this season will be any different, as the Tanners return their MVP, as well as eight other starters.
Dowd, a future Boston College Eagle, had a hand in 60 of the Tanners’ 84 goals last season (41 goals, 19 assists), and Peabody (21-0-2) claimed its first Division 1 state title with a 1-0 win over East Longmeadow.
The Tanners, who will have Northeastern Conference All-Stars Cayla Bucci, Victoria Digiacomo, and Bianca Muscato back, may have surprised some last season, but not this year.
Teams focused on dethroning the Tanners include Chelmsford, Andover, Acton-Boxboro, Lincoln-Sudbury, Winchester, Newton North, Oliver Ames, and Concord-Carlisle with senior All-American Andrea O’Brien.
Oliver Ames, which took the Tanners to overtime before falling, 2-1, in last year’s Division 1 EMass final, will have some rebuilding to do. The Tigers graduated their starting keeper, a sweeper, two midfielders, and two strikers.
“Things are starting to come together,” said coach Britt Sellmayer.
“Everything depends on if our role players from last year take more responsibility and if Kendall Andrew and Nicky Taylor provide the spark that Kristina [Simonson] and Emily [Grotz] did last year.”
Lincoln-Sudbury has a strong core returning, including both starting center midfielders (Megan Addeo and Katie DaSilva) and All-Scholastic goalkeeper Katie Sia.
“We only lost three starters and have some great girls coming back,” said Warriors coach Megan Matson. “We are hopeful that we’ll be right there again this season.”
Chelmsford surprised with its run to the Division 1 North final last season, and the Lions “should be even better this season,” according to coach Anne Marinaro.
Senior captain Jill Emerson has taken over as the Lions’ striker and she has looked more than capable to Marinaro.
“Jill’s fast and has excellent one-on-one ballhandling skills,” said Marinaro.