Cohesiveness can make a world of difference between a good soccer team and a great one.

Cohesiveness can make a world of difference between a good soccer team and a great one.

Senior midfielder Evan Porter believes the Bexley High School boys soccer team proved that the last two years. The 2008 and 2009 teams were about equal in talent. Yet the 2008 team was 6-8-5 after losing to DeSales 2-1 in overtime in a Division II district semifinal and last year's team went 17-3-2 after losing to the Stallions 4-3 in a shootout in a state semifinal.

"The 2008 team was as talented as, or maybe even more talented than last year's, but I don't think we ever came together," Porter said. "That plays such an important part in your success. That positive attitude is something we're trying to build again this year."

The Lions graduated 10 players who scored 49 of their 72 goals, including Ross Friedman, the MSL-Ohio and district Player of the Year who totaled 12 goals and 10 assists, and Matt Asensio (13 goals, six assists).

Senior Jackson Roecker and sophomore Jacob Cini will play at forward while seniors Anthony Hodge and Marcus Gustin will float between the forward and midfield positions.

Seniors Porter, Hodge, Gustin, Joe Macklin, Spencer Fries and sophomore Jacob Hodge will see time in the midfield. Senior Caleb Fechtor, who is coming back after tearing his ACL last spring, could play at either defender or midfielder.

Senior Christian Liefeld returns as the team's keeper with senior C.J. Needleman serving as back up.

Seniors Neal Pohlman and Tucker Stas lead the defense. Battling for playing time in the back are seniors Hoang Ta, Nick Spaeth-Cook, Matt O'Hern and Jack Mossman and junior Nate Klingenberg.

Bexley will be challenged by a demanding non-league schedule as well as a tough MSL-Ohio.

In non-league games, the Lions visit defending Division I state champion Gahanna on Sept. 1 and play host to Division III state champion Worthington Christian on Sept. 11. Bexley also visits Division I district champion Hilliard Davidson on Sept. 25 and plays host to district runners-up Dublin Coffman (Division I) and Hartley (Division II).

Fourth-year coach Greg Kullman doesn't envision such an easy run this year.

After ending its 13-year string of league championships in 2008, Bexley won the MSL-Ohio with a 5-0 record and outscored opponents 32-5. Whitehall (3-2), Granville (3-2), Columbus Academy (2-3), Lakewood (2-3) and Heath (0-5) rounded out the rest of the league. The Vikings won the Division III district title.

"It's hard to say how the league is going to be," Kullman said. "Academy is always strong and Granville is really good. Whitehall has come on in the past couple of years and I see them really surprising a lot of people."

Schedule

Aug. 24 - vs. Watterson Aug. 28 - vs. Olentangy Sept. 1 - at Gahanna Sept. 4 - vs. Dublin Coffman Sept. 7 - at Canal Winchester Sept.11 - vs. Worthington Christian *Sept. 15 - vs. Whitehall *Sept. 23 - at Lakewood Sept. 25 - at Hilliard Davidson *Sept. 30 - vs. Heath Oct. 2 - vs. St. Charles *Oct. 5 - at Granville Oct. 7 - at Westerville South *Oct. 12 - vs. Columbus Academy *Oct. 14 - at Licking Valley Oct. 16 - vs. Hartley *MSL-Ohio game