Ayden White Eau Claire North

Eau Claire North goalkeeper Ayden White catches the ball midair during the boys soccer game at Eau Claire North October 16, 2018.

Big Rivers

Chippewa Falls will be led by first-year coach Al Ali. The Cardinals will look to improve on last year’s 1-16-1 season. They’ll have a handful of players back with varsity experience, including Collin Albright, Sean Irvine, Landon Brunke, Jordan Simonson and Kyle Siddons. ... Eau Claire Memorial was the conference runner-up to Hudson last year and fell in a marathon penalty kick shootout in the regional finals. The Old Abes will need to replace Tyler Hanson in net and Mitchell Brenner at forward. Hanson was last year’s All-Area player of the year, and Brenner led the team in scoring. They have first team all-conference performers in Lushi Xiong, Luke Rosenberger and Logan Junker. Jared Nunez, a second team All-Big Rivers pick, showed plenty of promise as a freshman a year ago. Ryder Woodworth provides a solid option in the midfield. ... Eau Claire North will be led by a pair of returning seniors who are team captains: goalkeeper Ayden White and midfielder Jack Echternach. White held opponents to an average of 2.42 goals per game last year to earn honorable mention all-conference recognition. Echternach scored three goals and assisted six. Leading goalscorer Logan Podolak and his 21 strikes will need to be replaced. Huskies expect to be solid defensively. Defenders John Trapp, Brennan Neuser and Tyler Albrecht return to the back line. . ... Hudson is the defending conference champion and has the conference’s top player to build around this year. Midfielder Kolton Prater was the co-Big Rivers player of the year last season. The Raiders should be strong on the back line, with experienced defenders back in Nick Thompson, Cole Ober and Braeden Miller. Ober and Thompson were all-conference honorees. Hudson is the preseason favorite to win the conference, according to league coaches. ... Menomonie went 6-11-3 last year and won their first conference game in six seasons, a big step forward for the program. The Mustangs will need to replace leading scorer Adam Wilson, but Alejandro Noyola is back after finding the back of the net nine times last fall. There’s also a familiar face in net in goalkeeper Jonny Fenton. He saved 72 percent of the shots he faced last year. The Mustangs are young, with only four seniors on the roster. ... Rice Lake won a Division 3 regional title last fall and has first team all-conference honoree Cole Schnoor back. Zach Holmstrom and Ben Kemp both return after earning second team all-conference nods last year. With plenty of experience, the Warriors are aiming to stay in the top three of the conference for the fourth year in a row, according to eighth-year coach Shawn Gilbert. ... River Falls placed fourth in the Big Rivers last year. The Wildcats graduated a couple of all-conference players, including first team selection Niko Zoller. Junior Owen Wise and senior Gage Espanet earned honorable mention All-BRC recognition.

Elsewhere

Altoona played its first year of varsity soccer last year and is still searching for its first win. First-year coach Kevin Fruit takes over this year as the Railroaders look to continue to build their program. ... Baldwin-Woodville went to state for the first time in program history last season. New coach Chase Wilson takes over this year and inherits a transitional squad. Replacing the production of all-state forward Jacek Nickowski — who scored 74 goals and tallied 27 assists last year — will be difficult. Second-leading scorer Vance Wicker, who found the net 31 times, also graduated. Both play college soccer now. Wyatt Bennis returns after scoring seven goals and assisting eight last year. It will be up to the others to fill in on the stat sheet. ... Cumberland was 6-11-1 last season. Three-year captain Max Brenna has graduated after leading the team in most defensive categories. However, second team all-conference selection Ethan Sandman is back after scoring five times last year. Chase Lussier and Tanner Johnson added six and four goals, respectively. Kevin Koser tallied six assists. ... McDonell/Regis will be led by four seniors: Trent Witkowski, Mason Swoboda, Zade Kidess and Evan Flak. Swoboda was a starter when the Saints made a trip to state in 2017. The Saints are working with a small roster this year, with 15 players on the squad.

— Previews by Spencer Flaten, based on information provided by area coaches