The creation of the Centennial High School girls soccer team this fall moves the City League one step closer to officially recognizing the sport.

The creation of the Centennial High School girls soccer team this fall moves the City League one step closer to officially recognizing the sport.

Compared with the other five City schools that already had teams, the Stars don't resemble a first-year program.

After opening with a 4-0 loss to Columbus Academy on Aug. 25, Centennial defeated Whetstone 2-1 on Sept. 1, Columbus East 8-1 on Sept. 8 and Northland 3-0 on Sept. 17 to improve to 3-1.

The Stars faced Granville last Tuesday and play today at Buckeye Valley, Tuesday at Beechcroft and Wednesday at home against Thomas Worthington. They will play Briggs later in the season at a date to be determined.

Whetstone is in its 11th season and had not lost to a City opponent before falling to Centennial.

The City League requires at least half of its 16 schools to field a team before it officially will recognize a champion in a particular sport.

"We have a great mix of kids with a few that played for the boys soccer team the last couple years and some nice young players," Stars coach Larry Howell said. "It's almost like a good melting pot. We've got three or four who play softball, a couple who play basketball and a couple nice young freshmen."

Howell was the Stars' boys golf coach before taking over the girls soccer program this season. He is assisted by Donna Purcell, who moved to Columbus over the summer after previously living in Arizona.

Senior Sophie Dieland (center midfielder), juniors Jill Deken (center midfielder) and Kalyssa Watkins (defensive midfielder) and sophomores Aarin Jones (sweeper) and Amy Kear (defender) all played for Centennial's boys soccer team last fall.

The other seniors on the team are Sydney Cordell and Carrie Maxwell, who have been splitting time at goalkeeper. Juniors Katie Shumaker (forward) and Ali Woodruff (defensive midfielder) also are key players.

"They had a list of girls who were interested in having a team back in the spring," Howell said. "I took over in the middle of August, and before you know it we have 23 on our team.

"The girls who played for the boys team last year just got out and recruited girls and pushed it. I don't have much (experience with soccer), but I wanted a new challenge."

•Last season, the Walnut Ridge High School boys soccer team lost five of its first six non-league games. But then the Scots went 5-0 in the City League-South Division to advance to the City final for a conference-record 11th time.

When the Scots travel to Briggs on Tuesday, they should learn whether they can make it back to the City final.

Walnut Ridge tied Columbus West at 1 on Sept. 17 in its conference opener to improve to 1-5-1 overall. Briggs last represented the City-South in the City championship in 2007. It opened conference play with a 10-3 win over Marion-Franklin on Sept. 17 after losing its first four non-league games.

West, which beat Whitehall 3-2 on Aug. 25, Ready 5-3 on Sept. 12 and Mifflin 8-1 on Sept. 15 in non-league game, also remains in the race for the conference title. The Cowboys played Briggs last Tuesday.

Independence rounds out the five-team division as Africentric, Eastmoor and South do not have teams.

"It's been a struggle through our first few games," Walnut Ridge coach J.D. Elerick said. "We tend to play a tough schedule to get us ready for the City. It really prepares us."

Walnut Ridge, which lost to Brookhaven 3-1 in the City final last year, recently got a boost with the return of junior forward Kelvin Nyeduala from a broken foot.

Senior goalkeeper Julius Rudder, who stopped two of three penalty kicks he faced through the first seven games, and senior Holly Tilley are the captains. Junior Samba Sy is another key player.

Tilley made first-team all-City last year and has verbally committed to play for Morehead State University. She's also Walnut Ridge's first state qualifier in bowling, having finished 17th at state with a 541 last winter.

"Holly would play for any of the teams in the area," Elerick said. "She's our main cog in our offense and defense and I've had no problem making her a captain."

Senior Robiel Tesafaghiorshis had five goals through five games to lead Briggs.

Mohamed Ndiath had 11 goals through six games to lead West.