The Bexley High School girls soccer team certainly won't sneak up on anyone this year.

The Bexley High School girls soccer team certainly won't sneak up on anyone this year.

A history that includes nine Division II district championships in the last 10 years casts quite a shadow. However, 12th-year coach Scott Dempsey would love to see his squad pull off a few surprises this fall.

"We're working on our versatility and moving a lot of girls around," said Dempsey, whose team finished 17-3-1 overall and captured a district title with a 3-0 victory over Olentangy Orange last season. "I think we've gotten too predictable at times, and we're trying to be more deceptive on where players are at certain times on the field."

Bexley, which had its season end with a 2-0 loss to Middletown Bishop Fenwick in a regional semifinal, didn't have the opportunity to be sneaky last year.

Injuries to key players forced the Lions into a set rotation. In the regional matchup with Fenwick, they were missing a starting forward, central midfielder and defensive midfielder. The setback marked the second consecutive season they had lost in a regional semifinal.

Bexley lost four players to graduation, including two first-team all-MSL-Cardinal/Ohio Division and all-district selections, Jessica Linger and Deena Levey. Linger had a team-high 21 goals last year after scoring 19 in 2007.

"We only graduated four players, but Deena was a very decorated player and Jessica scored 40 goals (the last two seasons)," said Dempsey, whose team won the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio championship with a 7-0 record for the third consecutive year. "We lost a lot of offensive punch. But we're fortunate that we have a lot of experience and talent back. We have a good corps of girls to work with."

There are 10 returnees, including eight starters. They are headed by a pair of girls who earned all-district recognition.

Senior Leah Levey was district Player of the Year after scoring 19 goals. She played outside midfielder until shifting to the middle when her sister, Deena, was lost for the season with an injury. This year, she will play midfield and forward.

Junior forward/midfielder Charlotte Myers made first-team all-league and second-team all-district in an injury-filled season. She appeared in just 12 games, but scored 12 goals.

The rest of the returning starters are seniors Rachael Crane (defender/midfielder), Rebecca Carroll (defender/midfielder), Katie Grady (midfielder/forward/defender) and Amy Mautz (goalkeeper) and juniors Meredith DeLong (midfielder/forward) and Kendra Wilson (defender/midfielder).

DeLong scored 12 goals and Grady moved into the starting lineup after Deena Levey was hurt and scored six goals. Crane and Carroll, anchors of a defense that had 15 shutouts and yielded just nine goals, made second-team all-league. DeLong and Wilson made honorable mention all-league.

"We definitely want to do really well this year," Carroll said. "Playing different positions has helped a lot. It helps us understand things better. If I move back to defense after being in the midfield, it helps with continuity because I've been in that position before."

The returnees are rounded out by senior Mara Kinney (forward/midfielder) and junior Abby Fagin (midfielder/forward).

Seven others are up from a j.v. team that went 13-2. They are juniors Justine Foster (midfielder/forward) and Jeanette Klamfoth (midfielder) and sophomores Mackenzie Bolon (defender/midfielder), Kellie Dempsey (midfielder/forward), Lizzie Fraser (midfielder/forward/defender), Catlin O'Hern (midfielder/defender) and Sarah Prater (midfielder/forward).

All of the sophomores saw some limited time on varsity late last season. Bolon made her first career start in the regional semifinal. She also notched her first varsity goal, as did Dempsey and O'Hern, last season.

Bexley's schedule includes a rematch with Fenwick and matchups with perennial powers Cincinnati Mariemont and Richfield Revere.

The Lions also face Hartley and Circleville in non-league games and have a key league contest Sept. 22 at Grandview.

Bexley opened against Chillicothe Zane Trace last Monday and plays today at Division I Thomas Worthington.

"I definitely think we can do well." Crane said. "We have the work ethic, passion and depth now with some new faces and fresh faces. We all want to make a long run this year, and I think we can do it."


Schedule Aug. 24 -- vs. Chillicothe Zane Trace Aug. 27 -- At Thomas Worthington Sept. 1 -- vs. Circleville *Sept. 3 -- At West Jefferson Sept. 7 -- At Findlay Liberty-Benton *Sept. 10 -- vs. Granville Sept. 12 -- At Middletown Fenwick *Sept. 15 -- At Columbus Academy *Sept. 22 -- At Grandview Sept. 26 -- vs. Hartley *Oct. 1 -- vs. Heath Oct. 3 -- vs. Cincinnati Mariemont *Oct. 6 -- vs. Fisher Catholic Oct. 10 -- At Richfield Revere *Oct. 15 -- At Lakewood Oct. 17 -- vs. Dresden Tri-Valley *MSL-Cardinal/Ohio game