Rick Ey likes the makeup of his St. Charles Preparatory School soccer team.
The Cardinals have five starters and 13 letterwinners back from the squad that finished 10-6-2 overall last season after losing to Dublin Coffman 2-0 in a Division I district semifinal.
St. Charles won its second consecutive CCL title, going 4-0 to finish ahead of DeSales and Watterson, which tied for second at 2-1-1.
Returning starters are senior midfielder Connor Colvin, senior defender Drew Hicks, senior forward Will Walther, senior defender Nik Weislogel and junior midfielder Niko Strickler.
Senior forward Alex Macias led a balanced attack last season with five goals.
Other seniors include Ben Carlisle (midfielder), Alex Polinsky (midfielder), Jack Rademacher (midfielder) and Zack Zebula (midfielder/defender). Defender Jonathan Anderson is a first-year senior.
"I feel our experienced senior class is our biggest asset," said Ey, who is in his seventh season. "For most of them this will be their third or fourth year at the varsity level.
"We are also pretty versatile in terms of skill sets and positioning. There are several players whom I can plug into various positions and still feel comfortable. Overall, I think our leadership and team chemistry will be solid."
Rounding out the roster are juniors Jack Engert (forward), Isaac Flemming (forward), Bryan Ross (goalkeeper), Michael Skorupski (defender) and Josh Zebula (goalie), sophomores Andrew Weislogel (defender) and Rafe Rodriguez (defender) and freshman Kristo Strickler (midfielder).
"We still need to develop our depth," said Ey, whose team opens Thursday, Aug. 22, at home against Olentangy Orange.
"We feel as coaches that the younger guys or guys with less experience have a high ceiling and will improve a great deal as the season progresses. We're confident in them because they work hard, take instruction well and are willing to do whatever we ask of them. They're tough kids."
Golf team makes coaching change
Andy MacKinnon started his third season leading the golf program, but recently was replaced by John Croswell.
"John Croswell, who has been an assistant with the program, will handle the coaching duties," said athletics director Dave Lawler, who would not comment on why MacKinnon no longer was coaching. "I will handle the administrative duties of the position and (Croswell) will coach."
The Cardinals return all of their top golfers from last season, when they won the CCL at 8-0 and finished eighth (332) in the 15-team Division I district tournament at Apple Valley behind champion New Albany (298). The top three teams advanced to state.
St. Charles has not competed at state since winning back-to-back Division I titles in 2009 and 2010.
The top six golfers are seniors Connor Huelsman, Corey McCullers and Sam Schmelzer, junior Connor Yakubov, sophomore Jacob Rumfola and freshman Evan Yakubov.
In the season-opening Mount Vernon Classic on Aug. 6 at Mount Vernon Country Club, St. Charles finished seventh (314) of 18 teams behind champion Pickerington North (300). Schmelzer led with a 76, followed by Rumfola (79), Connor Yakubov (79), Evan Yakubov (80) and Huelsman (82).
Rumfola shot a 75 to lead the Cardinals to the title in the 12-team Westerville Central Invitational on Aug. 8 at Little Turtle. St. Charles tied Cincinnati Moeller with a 311, but won because McCullers' 81 was better than the fifth-player score from Moeller.
Evan Yakubov (77), Connor Yakubov (79) and Schmelzer (80) also scored.
On Aug. 15 in the 12-team Centerville Elk Invitational at Yankee Trace, the Cardinals finished sixth (314) behind champion Dublin Jerome (297). Schmelzer and Evan Yakubov led with 77s, followed by McCullers (79), Huelsman (81) and Rumfola (82).
Others looking to break into the lineup are seniors Will Knudson, Tanner Plewa, Troy Plewa and Kyle Witt and juniors Mike Altomare, Eddie O'Brien and Justin Yamamoto.