Boys soccer team looks to progress
A season after reaching a Division II state semifinal, the Bexley High School boys soccer team has some big shoes to fill.
"We have a very solid group of players who are all comfortable with the ball and have an advanced understanding of how to read the game," seventh-year coach Greg Kullman said.
"We're certainly not the biggest or strongest team, but we'll look to establish possession in games and try to get numbers forward."
Lost to graduation from the team that fell to eventual state champion Dayton Carroll 4-0 in a semifinal were district and MSL-Ohio Division Player of the Year Jacob Hodge, first-team all-district and all-league performer Jacob Cini and Tucker Stas, who was first-team all-league.
Returning after being named third-team all-district and first-team all-league is junior midfielder/forward Adam Hirsch, who had eight goals and eight assists last year. Cini had 15 goals and six assists, while Hodge had 13 goals and six assists.
Also back after receiving honorable mention all-league honors are senior defenders Alex Eikenberry and Jared James.
Sebastian Parra-Maya graduated after recording 48 saves, but senior Eli Feuer also got experience in goal a year ago, making 11 saves.
In front of Feuer on defense, Eikenberry and James will be joined by junior Chase Roddy and freshman Josh Jones.
In addition to Hirsch, midfielders include senior Nate Meizlish, juniors Noah Appelbaum and Carl Pohlman and sophomore Cole Heilman. Senior Daniel Loeser will be at forward.
"We have a handful of kids with varsity experience and a core group who got substantial minutes at the j.v. level last year who will look to contribute on the varsity level this year," Kullman said. "We return our two center backs (Eikenberry and James) from last year's team who will be called upon to organize and lead our defense."
Bexley went 14-4-4 overall last season and finished second (4-0-2) in the MSL-Ohio behind Columbus Academy (5-0-1).
The Lions will compete this season in a realigned MSL-Ohio that also includes Academy, Grandview, Grove City Christian, London, West Jefferson, Whitehall and Worthington Christian. Madison Plains also is in the league but isn't fielding a team.
"We've added a couple strong Division III teams in (perennial) power Worthington Christian and Grandview," Kullman said.
"The league championship will probably come down to Bexley, Academy, Worthington Christian and Grandview."
The Lions, who opened Aug. 20 against former MSL-Ohio foe Granville, also have strengthened their non-league schedule with Division I opponents Delaware, Hilliard Davidson and St. Charles and Hartley and Watterson from the CCL in hopes of improving before the postseason.
"Like any year, we're going to focus on improving each day, and if that happens we should be well positioned for the postseason," Kullman said.
Girls soccer squad rebuilding
Following a 10-7-2 season, the girls soccer team began coach Jared Dombrowski's third year with a lot of inexperience.
"We lost eight seniors and only have five starters returning," he said. "We also have five freshmen making the varsity roster."
The Lions opened with a 2-0 loss to visiting Cincinnati Mariemont on Aug. 17.
Seniors Sarah Dawley and Beth Lively are the captains.
Either senior Audrey Mitchell or junior Mimi Nahem will start in goal, with Lively, freshman Olivia Anderson, junior Caroline Sapp and sophomore Meredith Schwager starting on defense.
Dawley is expected to lead a midfield that includes junior Maddie Baker, freshman Ashley Bolon and junior Spencer Halliday.
Juniors Abby Barno, Addie Cini and Sophie Schottenstein and senior Maura Zidar should be at forward.
Bexley will compete in a realigned MSL-Ohio with Columbus Academy, Grandview, London, Madison Plains, West Jefferson and Worthington Christian. Whitehall isn't fielding a team.
Last year, the Lions finished second (7-0-2) in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio behind Granville (8-0-1).
"The conference change will make things interesting," Dombrowski said.
"Overall, I think the conference got a bit tougher, even though we play less conference games. ... I think us, Grandview, Academy and Worthington Christian will be the teams vying for the conference championship."
Youth hasn't prevented Dombrowski and his players from thinking about having a successful season.
"I know based on talking with the girls that our expectations are to win the conference title and compete for a district title," Dombrowski said.
"I personally think that the district could be wide open."
Field hockey team features experience
The field hockey team returns several players who turned in key performances last season as the Lions went 9-5-4 overall.
Goalkeeper Abby Barno, who also plays soccer, saved 79 percent of shots on goal last season, while her sister, senior Kayley Barno, had 11 goals and four assists.
Also returning are junior Kara Friedman (3 goals, 3 assists), senior Marissa Kelly (4 assists), senior Courtney Peterson (5 goals, 9 assists) and junior Grace Rosenthal (5 goals, 1 assist).
"I expect us to be strong," said 11th-year coach Kara Hardesty, whose team opens Wednesday, Aug. 28, with a Central Ohio Field Hockey League game against visiting Granville. "We only lost three starters from last year. We have a (solid) forward and midfield and are working to fill in gaps on defense."
Seniors Megan Elisar and Emily Gatterdam and junior Sivan Zouela are expected to start on defense.
The starting midfield is expected to include Friedman, Kelly and junior Andrea Dressel.
Kayley Barno, Peterson and Rosenthal are starting forwards along with sophomore Ashley Barno.
"Our seniors have been working hard in the offseason," Hardesty said. "Courtney Peterson and Kayley Barno are really in sync on the forward line. Marissa Kelly has been solid at midfield and Emily Gatterdam and Megan Elisar are playing strong defense."
Bexley finished fifth (7-3-1) in the COFHL last season behind champion Columbus Academy (10-0-1).