The Groveport Madison High School soccer programs are thankful to be competing this fall and are hoping to repay the community by putting forth their best effort and being productive on and off the field.
As a result of a $5.5 million emergency levy failure in May, the school is funding only one boys sport and one girls sport each season during the school year. In the fall, the sports being funded are football and girls volleyball.
The rest of the athletic programs are viewed as club sports and must be self-sufficient, paying operational costs such as transportation, game officials and equipment. The club sports will have volunteer coaches.
Stepping forward to handle the coaching duties for the boys soccer team were a pair of parents. Ron Jones is serving as the coach and Tom Snyder is his assistant.
"We feel that we have achieved success already by putting the soccer team together," Jones said. "The kids, parents and the community came together for both the boys and girls teams.
"The boys have shown great leadership and a commitment to succeed. Our only goal at this point is to be competitive and enjoy the game with friends and teammates."
Groveport returns nine letterwinners from last season, when it finished 8-8-1 overall and placed sixth in the OCC-Ohio Division at 2-5 under Deke Scott.
The returnees are seniors Jacob Jones (forward), Benny Lam (forward/midfielder), Justin Male (defender) and Nate Parsons (midfielder/defender) and juniors Mohammed Al-Harbi (forward), Kris Henry (defender), Evan Mehl (defender), Blake Snyder (midfielder) and Jacob Weakley (goalkeeper).
Henry was honorable mention all-league last season.
"Henry is a great all-around athlete who has miles of heart," coach Jones said. "He never stops, like the Energizer bunny. He played on a select travel team (during the offseason) and just has the soccer smartness. He's always in the right place at the right time.
"Jacob Jones, my son, gets the ball in the box for others to finish. He plays good crosses and has a knack of getting the ball in space and finding others."
Others vying for positions in the 3-4-3 formation are senior Austin Whitaker (defender), junior Jordan Spurling (midfielder), sophomore Brandon Byers (defender) and freshmen Bradley Byers (defender), Nick Gboe (forward), Robbie Sithixay (defender) and Dylan Snyder (defender).
"Spurling is a taller midfielder who will give the offense some punch," coach Jones said. "He always gets a foot or head on the ball. Blake Snyder is a good field player who can get the ball from defense to offense in a hurry."
Groveport opened Aug. 20 at Canal Winchester and begins OCC-Ohio play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at home against defending league champion Gahanna.
Girls soccer team looking to improve
The girls soccer team is looking to pick up where it left off last season, when it went 3-3 in its final six games to finish 3-13-1 overall.
Groveport opened Aug. 20 at Westland and plays Columbus School for Girls on Thursday, Aug. 22, at home before beginning OCC-Ohio play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Gahanna.
The Cruisers placed seventh in the league last year at 1-6.
"The only goals I have for them are to keep improving as players and as a team and to finish with a better record than they had last year," said first-year coach Mark Coyer, who replaced Andy Ling.
The Cruisers return six starters in senior Stephanie Siwicki (forward), juniors Lily Coyer (defender), Paige Dersom (defender) and Erin Hale (midfielder/defender) and sophomores Kelsey Cottrill (midfielder) and Brooke Coyer (goalie).
Siwicki played a major role in Groveport's lone league victory last season, scoring with 11 seconds remaining to give the Cruisers a 3-2 win over Newark, and was named honorable mention all-league.
Coach Coyer thinks the defense will be the strength of the team this season.
"We have some solid players in the back with Paige Dersom at sweeper, Lily Coyer and (senior) Kayla Maynard at backs and (freshman) Tessa Warren at stopper in front of Brooke," he said. "Brooke is tall and has the size and attitude to be a real good keeper. Tessa is very solid and has the ability to get people off the ball. She's all over the ball and we can also use her in the midfield."
Also expected to play key roles are senior Chelsea Johnson at forward and juniors Brittany Barna and Jaida Singratsomboune in the midfield.
"Jaida is new to the team after going to Hartley as a freshman and sophomore," coach Coyer said. "She controls the ball well and will add much-needed offense."
Also on the roster are seniors Ariel Kelber (goalie), Mouniratau Nikiema (defender) and Nathalie Sackey (defender), juniors Carla DeMatteo (midfielder), Cierra Kendall (for-ward/midfielder) and Ashley Pettay (sweeper), sophomore Anna Singratsomboune (midfielder) and freshmen Chloe Conrad (defender), Veronica Fox (midfielder), Brooke Sartin (forward), Savannah Scott (midfielder) and Sydney Singratsomboune (midfielder).
"We're athletic and have good leadership, but I think we're still young overall in terms of experience," coach Coyer said. "We want to overcome that with teamwork and a positive attitude. I think we'll get better as the season moves along."