Girls to Watch

Vivian Streets, Senior, Lakeland Christian: Streets has been one of the top defenders in the county throughtout her career. A Georgia Southern Committ, she combines good speed, skill and soccer smarts to anchor the Vikings defense. She is a two-time, first-team, all-county selection.

Olivia Ireland, Senior, Forward: Ireland has been a dangerous scorer since her freshman year. She overcame an injury-riddled sophomore season to be a top playmaker and forward for the Eagles as a junior with 17 goals and 17 assists. She was first team, all county last season.

Delaney Elder, junior, Lake Wales: Elder more than picked up the offensive load after the Highlanders lost their top offensive players from the previous season. She was hard to stop with 31 goals and 24 assists made first team, all county.

Jackie Montes, forward, Fort Meade: Montes needs four goals to reach 200 for her career. A smart, strong, fast midfielder with a knack for scoring, she scored 57 goals, added 17 assists and upset McKeel to win the district title. She also was a first-team, all-county selection for the second time in her career.

Caiti Simmons, senior, All Saints: Simmons can score against anyone. The Saints' forward is always heavily marked but still scored 39 goals and added 13 assists. She made first team, all county for the first time in her career last season.

Elasha Naylor, senior, Ridge Community: The Bolts' offense took a big hit heading into last season, but it remained dangerous because of Naylor's production. She was the FACA District 9 player of the year and scored 44 goals with 16 assists en route to being named first team, all county.


Girls Teams to Watch

Lakeland Christian: The Vikings lost two Division I players in Mary Peace (Florida) and Taylor O'Byrne (Davidson) but don't expect them to take a step backward. LCS's core of eighth-graders and freshman from two years ago are now sophomores and juniors and are getting bigger and stronger. The offense is led by Katie Carnes (32 goals, 24 assists) along with the versatile Ramsey Watkins, eighth-grader Maddie Lopez and Isabell Matallana. Mary Fran Caswell is an underrated as a midfielder. Eden Guynn will move to centerback to help make up for the loss of Peace. Vivian Streets is perhaps the top defender in the county and Riley Amell returns. Breanna Newberg has big shoes to fill in replacing O'Byrne but is a talented goalkeeper. Look for LCS to make a deep run.

Lake Wales: Although Charlee Lutton and Isabella Rojas were solid players and key contributors, the Highlanders otherwise return the rest of their key players from lat year's 15-4-2 squad. Junior Delaney Elder and sophomore Chanley Pfingston, who combine for 52 goals and 34 assists, form one of the top forward duos in the county, and the offense will be bolstered by Frostproof-transfer Elizabeth Wyrosdick, and Ellie Unzueta. Alicia Kralick and Sophie Matthews will hold down the midfield, and Haleigh Houmard and Andrea Gaiser anchor the defense. Delayne McBee will take over in goal.

McKeel: Asha Zuniga and Makayla Peddycoart give the Wildcats perhaps the top duo in the midfield in the county. Both players were first team, all county. Madison Dodd is another steady performer at midfield. A key for McKeel will be the play of Raquel Jones and Kaylee Couey at outside-mid. Despite the loss of second-leading scorer Kaitin Ford, the Wildcats remain dangerous offensively. Lavonja Knight scored 19 goals and should see increased playing time this season. Chloe Martine anchors the defense. Newcomers Ashlyn Herzog and Maggie Sullivan are expected to make an impact. McKeel is looking to avenge its loss to Fort Meade in the district championship game.

Fort Meade: The Miners are coming a very good season when they went 20-4-2 and won a district title. Jackie Montes is one of the top scorers in Polk County history. She'll carry a big part of the offensive load but will get help from Briceyda Gomez who had 29 goals and and 12 assists and help take the pressure off Montes. Salma Montes, who scored 10 goals last season, and Peyton Santo anchor the defense that allowed less than a goal per game last season.

George Jenkins: Alexi Cortez takes over as the Eagles' fifth coach in six years. He replaces Kayla Grimsley, who took a college job as an assistant coach. He has an experienced and talent group to start the season. Olivia Ireland has been a dangerous goal-scorer since her freshman year. She and Merica Abnathy will put a a lot of pressure on defenses, and freshman Abigail Wood adds depth. Ivy Bickerton and Morgan Joiner, whom the Eagles hope is finally healthy for her senior year, are talented center-midfielders who will push the offensive attack. Sara Miller and Samantha Lagasse lead the defense.