With a lot of starters back from a group that won a league title last year, the Canal Winchester High School boys soccer team enters this season with some big expectations.

With a lot of starters back from a group that won a league title last year, the Canal Winchester High School boys soccer team enters this season with some big expectations.

Last season the Indians finished 8-1-6 after losing 3-0 to Bexley in the second round of the Division II district tournament. Canal Winchester went 5-0-2 in the MSL-Buckeye Division to win the league title.

"We've got seven starters back so we have a lot returning," coach Erik Feinstein said. "Our goal is still to win the MSL. We also think we have a legitimate shot to make it to the district final, but we have to continue to pull together as a team and find someone to put the ball in the net."

The team is led by Cole Chatfield (forward), Stephen Evers (midfielder), Nathan Link (defender), Cory Myers (midfielder), Sean Roberts (goalkeeper), Adam Tackett (forward) and David Weis (defender). All of them started for the Indians last season.

The rest of the team is comprised of Dillon Collier (defender), Cameron Deeds (forward), Zach Haynes (midfielder), Scott McAnaul (defender), Cole Porterfield (defender), Cory Rinehart (midfielder), Evan Stinebrink (midfielder), Patrick Ternasky (forward) and David Wyrwal (defender).

The strength of Canal Winchester lies in its defense. The Indians have a strong back line anchored by Roberts in goal. Last season, the defense and Roberts recorded 13 shutouts.

Unfortunately for the Indians, they did not have an offense to match their great defense since six of those shutouts resulted in a tie.

"We try to play a possession game. The goal for us is to move the ball and possess the ball," Feinstein said. "With a team that had 13 shutouts, we expect to be a strong defensive team. Hopefully we add in some of the offense and start finishing. At this point we're looking for our strikers to step up. If anyone of them starts scoring on a regular basis that would really help."

Though Canal Winchester expects to challenge for a league title for a second consecutive season, Feinstein said the Indians face some stiff competition.

"Definitely Bloom-Carroll will be good. They've got a lot back," Feinstein said. "Teays Valley has a good corps returning and a strong new coach. Fairfield Union has shown the ability to step up as well as Hamilton Township."

Aside from a tough schedule in the MSL-Buckeye the Indians also have some difficult non-league contests, such as today's game at home against Hartley, Sept. 8 at Bexley, Sept. 15 at home against Columbus Academy, Sept. 24 at Pickerington Central and Oct. 6 at home against Granville.

"I think we've got a lot of potential," Feinstein said. "We just need to find somebody who can finish on a consistent basis."

•With some key returning starters and players back, the girls volleyball team should contend for a second consecutive MSL-Buckeye title.

Last season ended one step short of the Division II regional tournament for Canal Winchester as the Indians lost to Big Walnut in the district championship game.

Returning this season for Canal Winchester are Emily Hall (middle hitter), Allison Hutchens (outside hitter), Chelsea Miller (middle hitter), Katie Nelson (outside hitter), Andrea Peer (setter) Abbey Stumbo (setter), Hannah Toler (libero) and Morgan White (setter).

"We only lost two players from last year but the one that played the most was Crystal Elliott," coach Colleen Ross said. "She was an exceptional setter so to replace her is going to be difficult. The nice thing is that we have so many players back. This is a group that gets along very well and they've got a good dynamic."

The Indians hope to be strong at every position except setter, which Elliott handled for Canal Winchester. Peer, Stumbo and White all have experience at the position so Ross does not expect a steep decline in the quality of play.

"Right now, I think defensively we're coming along," Ross said. "And offensively we've got some returning kids who look pretty good."

As for the postseason, the Indians have missed regional competition the last two seasons. Ross believes the Indians have the capability to do so if everything comes together.

"You always hope for the best and hope to get out of the district, that's always a goal," Ross said. "I always think it's possible with every team I have, including this one. We're not sure just quite how we'll measure up yet, so I'll have to see a few games before I know if we can."

•The girls soccer team opened last Monday with a 4-1 win over Groveport.

The Indians play host to Whetstone on Saturday before traveling to Lakewood on Tuesday.