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GIRLS TEAMS AT A GLANCE

CITRUS

COACH: Ethan Eldridge (first year).

LAST SEASON'S RECORD: 18-4-1 (district runner-up; lost in first round of Class 2A playoffs).

TOP PLAYERS: Jenny Floyd, Jr., F; Whitney Gelin, Sr., D; Sonya Segars, Sr., MF; Amanda Yoder, Sr., MF; Laura Woythaler, Sr., GK.

OUTLOOK: The Hurricanes were dealt a significant loss when three-time area player of the year Amber Presnick decided to graduate a semester early and skip her final season. But Citrus isn't without talent. Gelin, a returning all-area player, is among the North Suncoast's top defenders. A state weightlifting champion, she could be the strongest player in Florida. Gelin and Yoder are co-captains, and their leadership will be crucial to the Hurricanes' success. They have five senior starters, but will look to talented ninth-graders Marcy Mills (MF), Jennifer Nelson (C-MF) and Chelsea Wear (D) for quality minutes. Junior forward Kallie Grimes is another player to watch. Citrus should be well-balanced on both ends of the field, but it might need time to develop chemistry. Without Presnick, others will need to step forward for the 'Canes to compete for the district title. Eldridge, who replaces ultra-successful Brady Bogart, is enthusiastic about this squad's potential.

QUOTABLE: "We have tremendous leadership in our seniors," Eldridge said. "And we have three very promising freshmen. It's a big adjustment period for the entire program. They can go as far as they want to go. It's just going to take more leadership and more physical play from a couple of players, but I think that will come with time."

LECANTO

COACH: Kevin Towne (6th year).

LAST SEASON'S RECORD 16-6-1 (district champions; lost in first round of Class 2A playoffs).

TOP PLAYERS: Lisa Arnold, Jr., MF; Nikky Field, Jr., D; Amber Gidden, Sr., F; Alicia Short, Sr., F; Dani Sowell, Sr., F; Jenny Wheeler, Sr., D; Jen Worthington, So., MF.

OUTLOOK: How sweet was the 2001-2002 season for Lecanto? The Panthers not only captured their first district title, but ended an 18-game winless streak against Citrus by beating the Hurricanes in the district final. Lecanto hopes to build on that momentum. In Gidden, Short and Sowell, the Panthers have three of the area's top scorers. And Wheeler might be the county's best defender. Gidden, Sowell and Wheeler, returning all-area players, each is a player of the year candidate. Gidden tied for the county lead with 28 goals last winter. Lecanto is well-balanced and, despite losing several quality members to graduation, relatively experienced. The biggest loss comes at goal, where Trisha Chenoweth was all-area after producing 13 shutouts last season. She will be replaced by senior Jill Burkhart, who played well in limited time last year and has the confidence of her coach. If the Panthers have a weakness, it's a lack depth.

QUOTABLE: "No. 1, we need to stay healthy," Towne said. "And we need to improve each game. I know you hear this all the time, but we need to realize we need to take it one game at a time. We cannot look down our schedule. I'd like to have more depth, but we've got a good core coming back. We'll have to build around that."

CRYSTAL RIVER

COACH: Jerry Stone (first year).

LAST SEASON'S RECORD: 6-11-4 (lost in district semifinal).

TOP PLAYERS: Eleshia Young, Sr., MF; Ashley Williams, S, Sr., Amber Keller, Jr., D.

OUTLOOK: Stone, who spent two seasons as an assistant coach before taking over, has a youthful but talented team. Stopper Julie Fioretti was the only starter to graduate from last year, so many top players return. Young was a first-team all-area pick a season ago after accumulating 10 goals and four assists. Keller and Williams were honorable-mention selections. The Pirates started five freshmen in the last game of season, and added experience should lead to an improvement in record. Stone was pleased with the number of newcomers, and said some will step in and contribute right away. That means a lot of young players will get valuable time at the junior varsity level, which is important to the program's future. Look for Crystal River to continue to make strides against county competition.

QUOTABLE: "A third of the whole squad is freshmen, so it's going to be a deep squad," Stone said. "We're going to put a lot of new players into starting spots, and I think we'll have a pretty good season."

COMING UP

THURSDAY: Boys preview.

_ KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER

AND KEITH NIEBUHR

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