Expect most of the trophies to change hands in the girls’ high school soccer tournaments, which start their four-day runs Wednesday in the Ramstein-Kaiserslautern area.

Of the 2006 champs, only Division IV winner Brussels seems to have the experience back to defend its title.

The Lady Brigands, behind high-scoring newcomer Marlena Schlattmann and veterans Christine Exner, Lizz McVicker, Caitlin Quinn and Brianna Fitch went 5-1 this season, with the 2-0 loss coming March 22 against International School of Brussels, a legitimate Division I contender.

On the other hand, D-I champ Heidelberg (2-3-1 in D-I this season) drew the No. 5 seed this time around after a season in which the Lady Lions were outclassed on the field by conference champion Ramstein and runner-up Kaiserslautern. Worse yet for Heidelberg, Patch, which won the last two D-II European titles, moved to D-I this year and assumed the No. 4 seed after a 2-0 victory April 28 at Heidelberg.

In Division III, defending champion Sigonella bid good-bye to players who scored 18 of the 19 goals the Lady Jaguars tallied in the 2006 European tournament and went 1-3-1 this season.

Whoever wins this year’s titles, the crowns will be the reward for a fatiguing four-day run, John Crockett, coach of Mannheim’s II-South champions, points out.

“In our division (D-II), the teams that make it to the semifinals will have played five hours and 20 minutes of soccer in a 50-hour period,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Those teams that go to the finals then have a five-hour break and have to play another game. I know the teams with the strongest benches will have the advantage.”

Division I: The advantage seems to go to two-time conference champion Ramstein (4-0-2 in league play), toughened by last week’s last-minute tie against Kaiserslautern (3-0-3) and a rugged 1-0 victory the previous week at ISB (3-1-2). Patch (3-2-1) is always tough at tournament time, but Lakenheath (1-5) and Wiesbaden (0-5-1) seem to be long shots. Still, Wiesbaden’s tie came against Ramstein.

Division II: “I think Division II is wide open,” Mannheim’s Crockett wrote. “It looks like both the North and South conference tightened up near the end of the season with teams improving … add the two Italy teams (ASIL champion Naples and runner-up Aviano, both 4-1-1) and things really get interesting.”

Winless Würzburg and Baumholder (1-6) would appear to be off the radar in D-II, but everyone else is in the thick of it.

Shawn Whitehurst, coach of SHAPE’s 5-0-1 II-North champions said five teams get his attention.

“… I’m worried about several teams: Bitburg (2-2-3), AFNORTH (3-3-1), Aviano, Naples but above all BFA (3-1-2),” he wrote in an e-mail. “BFA has always been one of our most difficult competitors.”

Vilseck (3-1-3), and Mannheim (4-2-1) are also in the 10-team D-II field.

Division III: With Sigonella mired in a rebuilding process, attention in D-III turns to III-South champ Hanau (6-0-1 with the tie coming against Vilseck of D-II) and Hohenfels (5-2-0), according to Sig’s McCarthy.

“I …believe both teams have an excellent chance of reaching the final,” he wrote. “[Hanau] is a well-coached team with a solid defense and an excellent playmaker named Fei Oloi.”

McCarthy also likes the chances of Marymount (4-1-1) and Vicenza, despite its 2-4-0 regular-season record.

“[Vicenza] has played most of the season short-handed,” he explained, “and they might have an advantage in being one of the best-conditioned teams… important when facing the possibility of playing five games in three days.”

Marymount, he wrote, involves all 11 players in the passing game.

“They are quick with the one-touch passes and work well together,” he wrote.

Giessen’s Edwina Smith thinks her Griffins (3-3-0), are improved from their tough four games against Hanau and Hohenfels, but AOSR (3-2-0) and Ansbach (1-6-0) appear to face an uphill battle.

Division IV: Brussels certainly appears poised for the repeat. Alconbury and Menwith Hill each went 0-2-2 with the ties coming against each other and the losses to Brussels. Bamberg went 1-5-0 and Milan 0-6-0 this season, and Lajes, Ankara and Incirlik are coming from too far away to have meaningful records.

Games will be played at Ramstein High school, in the nearby town of Hutschenhausen and at Vogelweh and Kapaun Air Station in Kaiserslautern. There is no admission charge.

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