By Beau Eastes

The Bulletin

Prep girls soccer at a glance

A look at the Central Oregon teams for the upcoming season

The road to this year’s Class 5A girls soccer state championship likely runs through the city of Bend.

On which side of Third Street that route passes is anyone’s guess.

Summit and Bend High roll into the 2014 season as favorites in not just the Intermountain Conference but in all of 5A. The Storm have won three of the past four 5A state titles, including championships in 2012 and 2013, but Summit returns just five starters from last year’s 16-0-2 team. Graduation hit Jamie Brock’s club hard, as the Storm lost 2013 5A player of the year Hadlie Plummer, Pac-12-bound goalie Rachel Estopare, and four-year starter Shannon Patterson.

“There’s a lot of new faces out there,” says Brock, whose program comes into the 2014 season on a 35-game unbeaten streak. “We really are a whole different team.”

The Lava Bears, on the other hand, bring back nine starters from last year’s team that went 11-3-2 and lost to the Storm in the semifinal round of the state playoffs.

“On paper we look good,” says Bend coach Mackenzie Groshong. “You never know what each year brings.”

With only four seniors on last year’s roster, the Lava Bears are loaded with experience this season. Senior forward Hannah Cockrum is back for the Bears after receiving second-team all-state recognition last fall. And junior Karah McCulley (defender) and senior Cambria Hurd (midfield/forward) both were named to the all-IMC team. Senior Awbrie Elle Kinkade returns in goal after getting all-IMC honorable mention in 2013, her first year of playing soccer.

“We’ve got kids in leadership roles all over the field,” says Groshong, a former Bend High player who is in her fourth year as the Bears’ head coach. “We’ve got a lot of midfield strength. Right now we’re playing players in different areas to see where we’re at.”

While the Storm return fewer starters than the Lava Bears, the back-to-back state champions have one of Oregon’s top scorers in junior forward Christina Edwards. A first-team all-state pick, Edwards scored 21 goals in 2013, including four in the state playoffs — two of which came in Summit’s 4-2 victory over Wilson in the state final.

Sophomore Megan Cornett (eight goals, six assists in 2013) is also expected to spark the Storm’s offense this fall, while junior Mya Fraley anchors Summit’s defense after receiving all-league honors last year. The biggest question for the Storm heading into the season is who will replace Estopare, a four-year starter and all-state keeper who is now playing at the University of Arizona.

Summit and Bend are set to play each other twice during the regular season. The Storm are at the Bears’ 15th Street Field on Oct. 2 before the two intracity rivals meet again on the artificial turf at Summit High on Oct. 21.

“There’s a lot of unknowns, but we can control how hard we work,” Brock says. “Nothing is going to come easy for us. We remind the kids of that every year. … We’ll have to earn every bit.”

—Reporter: 541-383-0305; .