Canal Winchester Roundup
Seniors in sync with girls coach
During preseason practices, Canal Winchester High School girls soccer coach Jim Stevens simply called out the name of a drill and his players quickly fell in line and executed it.
The ninth-year coach said that's one of the advantages of having 12 seniors on his roster.
"We've never had this many seniors before and it's really helped with things like leadership and experience, because if you don't know how we do things by your senior year, you'll never learn," Stevens said. "Our seniors understand the importance of fitness and we had a real good turnout for conditioning all summer. I can tell that they're getting tired of my old jokes, but when I call out the name of one of our drills, like Penn State, everyone knows where they are going without any instruction from me because they've been through it before."
Canal Winchester, which opened Aug. 21 at Hilliard Bradley, finished 10-5-2 overall last season, losing to Upper Arlington 4-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Indians won the MSL-Buckeye Division title outright a year ago, going 5-0-2 to earn their second consecutive league championship. They open league play Aug. 30 at home against Bloom-Carroll.
"This is our last year in the MSL before we move into the OCC next year, and we want to leave the MSL in a grand flurry with a three-peat," Stevens said. "We've added some OCC teams to our schedule and, if we split those games, we could have a good season.
"Going further in the tournament is a big goal, too. We're tired of being one-and-done in the Division I tournament. When we were Division II, we used to make a run almost every year, and we want to get back to that."
The Indians have returned 11 seniors in Megan Byrd (outside defender), Savanna Daily (goalkeeper), Brennan Haptonstall (forward), Mckinzie Harper (forward), Anna Hippler (outside midfielder), Brianna Meinhart (center defender), Andrea Ratliff (center midfielder), Abby Ternasky (forward), Taylor Thome (outside midfielder), Caitie Traylor (center defender) and Jenna Zuberi (center midfielder).
Also on the team are senior Amanda Kaser (defender) and sophomores Makala Blankenship (forward), Jenna Downer (defender) and Kylie Harper (center midfielder).
"Our seniors played well last year and we're expecting them to perform even better this year," Stevens said.
Boys soccer team young but talented
The boys soccer team has returned four starters from a year ago, when it finished 7-4-6 overall.
The Indians return two third-year starters in senior goalkeeper Matt Appel, who has verbally committed to Xavier University, and junior defender Daltyn Colley. Senior forwards Noah Ising and Joe Nichols are second-year starters.
First-year starters are senior Cory Cruikshank (midfielder), juniors Bailey Butler (midfielder), Jeremy Knightstep (defender) and Ryan Miller (defender), sophomores Jacob Mullenbach (center midfielder) and Kyler Splunge (center midfielder) and freshman Zach Barwick (defender).
Also on the team are juniors Brandon Pfieffer (midfielder) and Brandon Shirkey (midfielder), sophomores Phillip Kelley (midfielder) and Luciano Phaboune (forward) and freshman Blake Horne (defender).
"Even though we're young, we're very skilled and we have a lot of depth," 15th-year coach Erik Feinstein said. "Matt may be the best goalkeeper in the Central District and we have the size and skill to score goals."
Canal Winchester opened Aug. 18 with a 2-1 loss to Westerville North and begins MSL-Buckeye play Aug. 30 at Bloom-Carroll.
The Indians finished third in the MSL-Buckeye last season at 3-1-2, behind Bloom-Carroll (5-0-1) and Teays Valley (4-0-2) and ahead of Circleville (2-3-1), Hamilton Township (2-4), Fairfield Union (1-3-2) and Logan Elm (0-6).
Canal Winchester lost to 12th-seeded Pickerington North in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"Our goals are to have double-digit wins and make a run in the district tournament," Feinstein said. "Hamilton Township will be extremely improved, Bloom-Carroll is tough, and Teays Valley is doing some good things, so winning our league won't be easy. We have a strong backline and goalkeeper, so we need to stay in games by keeping teams out of the back of our net."
Browning, Kifer back to lead girls golf team
The girls golf team opened Aug. 13 by placing 10th (387) in the 14-team Gahanna Invitational at Jefferson.
The next day, Canal Winchester finished second (379) in the MSL-Buckeye preseason tournament behind Logan Elm (355) and ahead of Teays Valley (413) and Circleville (459).
On Aug. 16, the Indians finished ninth (404) in the 14-team Lady Braves Invitational at Cooks Creek behind champion Dublin Jerome (309).
Canal Winchester is led by seniors Marci Browning and Elizabeth Kifer. Also on the team are sophomore Mary Hippler and freshmen Bailey Kruger, Kate Mueller and Monica Smith.
"Marci Browning was first-team all-league in 2011 and should factor in as a medalist contender in every match," sixth-year coach Greg Hippler said. "Elizabeth Kifer was second-team all-league in 2011 and should make a run at earning first-team this year. Her work ethic is second to none and she is probably the most coachable player we have had. Mary Hippler had a very strong freshman season despite splitting time with the (junior varsity) soccer team. This year, she is focused solely on golf and has shown great improvement. Mary has the potential to be a high-level player and will need to be consistent in order for us to be successful."
Last season, Canal Winchester went 20-7 in the MSL to finish fourth behind Logan Elm (25-1), Granville (23-4) and Bexley (21-6).
The Indians finished third (398) in the Division I sectional at The Links at Groveport last year behind Pickerington North (354) and Upper Arlington (375) and then placed ninth (426) at district at Bent Tree behind state-qualifiers Dublin Jerome (312) and Gahanna (330).
"Our expectations are to compete for a Mid-State League title," coach Hippler said. "We have the potential to beat anyone on any given day, but getting the underclassmen to perform consistently will be a key. Marci, Elizabeth and Mary should get us off to a strong start in our matches, but we will need to get a solid fourth score from one of our freshmen.
"Last year, we played some of our best golf late in the year and, with having a young team this year, we fully expect the same."