Maddie Padelski

It's hard to believe, but the high school sports season is here once again.

Girls soccer is one of the first sports to kick off the 2022-23 school year, and, as always, the Williamson County area is loaded with talent. 

Let's take a look at the WillCo teams and key players to watch throughout this season. 

Class AAA

After taking home both the district and region crowns, the Ravenwood Raptors made it all the way to the state tournament semifinals before falling to Houston 2-0. The loss ended a two-year reign as AAA state champions.

The loss of All-State honorees Ally Brown and Sarah Kate Rath will hurt, but All-District honorees and seniors Leah Johnson and Bella Macaso will be stepping into those roles. Johnson scored nine goals last season despite lining up as a defender, while Macaso compiled 17 goals and six assists. 

District Goalkeeper of the Year Lexi Grundler also returns. The junior was part of a Ravenwood defense that forced 11 shutouts in their run to the state semifinals. 

Nolensville, Ravenwood's opponent in the region title game, also reached the state tournament last season. The Knights bowed out in the first round to eventual state champions Bearden. 

As the Knights quest for their first-ever state championship, All-State honoree and reigning WillCo Girls Soccer Player of the Year Maddie Padelski will be the offensive focal point. As a freshman in 2021, Padelski netted 31 goals and nine assists. 

Nolensville will be backed by senior goalkeeper Cece Szopa on defense. The Alabama-Huntsvile commit and District Goalkeeper of the Year led a stingy Knights backline that forced eight shutouts last season. 

Franklin reached the district title game in 2021 where they lost to Ravenwood. The Admirals will return a pair of All-District seniors who have already committed to Division I collegiate programs. 

Midfielder Margaret DeFranco, a Samford signee, was an All-State honoree during her sophomore season when Franklin last made the state title game. Defender Avery Brown, headed to Ole Miss next season, will lead the Admirals backline once again this season.  

Independence, like Nolensville, ran up against a strong Ravenwood squad in the regional tournament. The Eagles lost District Co-Offensive Player of the Year Ruby Teixera, who signed with West Virginia. But they return the District Defensive Player of the Year in senior Natalie Russell

Class AA

In their first-ever state championship game appearance, Page brought home the trophy last season with a 4-2 victory over Central Magnet in the title game. Prior to that match, the Patriots had allowed just one goal throughout the region and state playoffs.

The backbone of that defense returns with All-State performers in senior goalkeeper Gabrielle Rainey and junior defender Anna Baker. The defensive pair were joined on the All-State team by forward Kathryn Nelson, a North Alabama commit who totaled 15 goals and nine assists in 2021. 

In the attack, Nelson will be flanked by senior midfielder, WillCo Girls Soccer Player of the Year nominee, and District MVP Abby Thornton, also a North Alabama commit, as well as fellow senior forward Gracie Segundo, a Belmont commit who scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 2021. 

Fairview's postseason hopes will once again rest on All-State goalkeeper LilyAnn McElroy. The senior compiled five shutouts in 2021 and kept the Yellowjackets in several contests. 

Division II-AA

Christ Presbyterian Academy (CPA) made it all the way to the state semifinals, where they fell to Baylor 2-1, after moving up from Division II-A. 

But for the Lions to return to the state tournament, they will have to replace offensive powerhouses Caroline Betts and Caroline Moore. Betts, who was one of just three players from the state and the only one from Middle Tennessee to be named an All-American, will be playing at Vanderbilt this fall. 

CPA should not need any help on defense however with senior Virginia Glisson, an All-District defender, back to control the backline. 

Father Ryan fell one game short of a state tournament appearance last season, losing to CPA in a 5-4 shootout in the DII-AA regional.  

The 2020 state champs return All-State defender Olivia Prim. Despite lining up as a defender, Prim was the Irish's leading goal scorer in 2021 with nine. Her defense helped force six shutouts on the season. 

Ensworth also made it to the region tournament last season, falling to St. Mary's 2-1. All-State ophomore midfielder Breahn Fisher is back to potenially lead the Tigers to the state tournament. 

After stellar play in the midfield throughout her first two seasons, Lipscomb Academy senior Bethan Guinness transitioned to defender in 2021 and earned All-State honors. 

Division II-A 

Battle Ground Academy (BGA) nearly three-peated as state champions, falling just short in their bid for a third trophy in a row with a 1-0 loss to University School of Jackson in the title game.

Although the Wildcats lost All-State defender Kennedy Price to Tennessee, they return All-State Eva Schreiber (29 goals and six assists in 2021) and Price's future Tennessee teammate Keaton Mitchell (21 goals and 13 assists).

The dynamic pair of senior midfielders are looking to win a third state title in their decorated careers.  

Nashville Christian also made it to the state tournament, losing to USJ in the semifinals. 

The Eagles lost All-State midfielder Macy Crampton, but All-State forward Ava Pomeroy will soften the blow. The senior scored 23 goals in Nashville Christian's run to the state tournament.