Lexington Catholic is back in a familiar place as the top-rated girls' soccer team in the city, but it has plenty of company this season.
With eight returning starters and a large group of seniors, the Lady Knights received a No. 3 ranking in the pre-season coaches' poll behind top-rated defending state champion Sacred Heart and Highlands, which won the state title two years ago.
Catholic Coach Terry Quigley shrugged off the latest rating.
“We're not No. 3 right now,” he said. “That's a little lofty, but everyone should aspire to be that good, and hopefully by the end of the year we can be a top-10 team.”
But several other teams in the Knights' own 27th District could likely be top-10 teams by the end of the season, like No. 5 West Jessamine and No. 14 Lexington Christian.
For now, though, the Knights are the team to beat in this area thanks in part to the returning starters and seniors.
“I'm counting on them to show the way,” Quigley said. “We've got six seniors ... and each one of them has played in games against Sacred Heart and Assumption and Highlands and Notre Dame. They've lived through the wars and I'm counting on them to show everyone how to win.”
Catholic was knocked off in the region finals last season by West Jessamine, which won 18 games and returns what Coach Kevin Wright said are “five to seven legitimate college soccer players,” including Western commitment Sydney Sisler, as well as Arin Gilliland, Teryn Wright and Ashley Cobane.
Lexington Christian has everyone back from last season. It's a team that has Coach James Jaeger excited to start the season this week.
“I'm real confident with this team,” he said. “They're coming together well and I know we can play with almost anybody.”
Other teams like East Jessamine, Lafayette and Paul Dunbar would like to play spoiler in the district.
In the 26th District, the team to beat appears to be No. 21 Tates Creek, but the Commodores are going to need younger players (11 are freshmen or sophomores) to step in and fill key roles.
Creek will have competition from teams like Henry Clay and Sayre, which both received votes in the first poll. Bryan Station made strides last season, and under new coach Kristian Tyler Junker the Defenders are hoping to break through.
As the teams in both districts progress into the post-season, No. 6 Woodford County will be waiting in the wings.
The Jackets, who also have a new coach in Dave McIver, advanced to the state championship game last year before being knocked off by Sacred Heart. Woodford lost just one key player, Morgan Binder, and return a wealth of talent, including first-team All-State selections Stephanie Patterson, Brandi Levi and Katrina Ott.