Both Drury and Hoosac Valley high schools come into the girls soccer season with new coaches.

That alone makes Taconic coach John Flynn a little leery of playing them.

"I always get nervous playing a team with a new coach," he said during Friday's practice. "There always seems to be a different enthusiasm."

He and the Braves will still have to fight for position with the Blue Devils in the South Division, but the Hurricanes face a new challenge as the 2014 season begins. Hoosac Valley moves to the North this fall, with Monument Mountain joining Drury, Lee, Mount Everett, St. Joseph and Taconic in the South.

Those moves, paired with many teams having to retool lineups after graduations of key players, have many wondering who's going to take control of the county this fall.

"I feel like a lot of them are rebuilding," Hoosac Valley goalkeeper Megan Richardson said. "It's going to be good competition, I think."

It's a new division and a new team for first-year Hoosac coach Kirstin Holmgren, who previously served as Mount Greylock's JV coach. The Mounties are still in the tough North with Hoosac, Lenox, Pittsfield and Wahconah.

Pittsfield controlled the North last year, on its way to a second consecutive berth in the Western Mass. Division I finals. It'll be a little tougher road for PHS in 2014, though, as seven starters from last year's team have graduated.

"It's pretty motivating," co-captain Amanda Wright said. "We have all that on our back, and we want to push ourselves ... and make it there again.


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Don't count out Lenox, which is just two years removed from a Western Mass. D-III title and features junior forward and returning All-Eagle selection Alessandra Arace, who has already verbally committed to Providence. Or Wahconah, bringing back All-Eagle selections in midfielder Katie Dumas and defender Maddie Sprague. Or Mount Greylock, with explosive scorer Kelsey Orpin.

"They all bring something different, but they all bring something strong, too," Wahconah coach Pat West said. "I do expect to see parity. Pittsfield's done a great job over the last couple of years, but it might be a pretty even league."

The South doesn't have a clear favorite yet, either. Lee, Mount Everett and Taconic made the postseason last year. Taconic took a hit due to graduation, but returns experience in the midfield with Lauren Mangiardi and Rachael Donahue, and striker Gillian Campbell. They may have to lead a young Braves team, though. Flynn noted that half the team could be sophomores by the time the roster is set.

"We have a lot of new players who have to step up and have a leadership role," he said.

"It's going to be an interesting year. I think a lot of teams are in the boat we're in. A lot of teams lost key players, or a lot of players. It's hard to pick who's going to be the horse."

To reach Matthew Sprague:
msprague@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @BE_MSprague.