The Watterson High School field hockey team has a lot of unproven talent in its lineup after losing seven starters to graduation.

The Watterson High School field hockey team has a lot of unproven talent in its lineup after losing seven starters to graduation.

Fortunately for the Eagles, they have an experienced group playing attack, including seniors Emily Engert and Alessandra Margello and junior Leah Delp.

Engert is a third-year starter, and Delp and Margello are second-year starters.

Sixteenth-year coach Janet Baird is hoping the attackers can keep opponents on their heels long enough for her newcomers to get used to playing at the varsity level.

Watterson, which went 12-6-1 overall last year, opened Aug. 27 with a Central Ohio Field Hockey League game against Dublin Jerome.

"We're probably flying under the radar right now because we don't have a strong defense coming back and we had to convert a field player (junior Bridget Wagy) into a goalkeeper because we didn't have anyone to play the position," Baird said. "We do have some quick players at attack and we're going to play fast and try to stay on offense for as long as possible to make up for our lack of experience. We're lucky that we have the players needed to play that way."

Starting on defense are seniors Elizabeth Racher and Sarah Story and junior Maria Swearingen.

Junior Stephanie Polletta is back to start in the midfield.

Also on the team are seniors Amanda Harbrecht (defender) and Samantha Paul (midfielder), juniors Molly Racher (defender), Katie Santanello (attacker) and Lauren Shawgo (defender), sophomores Amy Buening (midfielder), Jen Buening (midfielder) and Amy Griffith (attacker) and freshman Abby Marshall (midfielder).

Engert and Elizabeth Racher are team captains, and Margello has stepped up as a team leader as well, according to Baird.

"Those three seniors spent their whole summer playing field hockey and will anchor our team," Baird said. "All three of them are getting recruited to play at the next level, too.

"This group did more over the summer to get ready for this season than most groups we've had."

Last year, Watterson finished seventh (6-4-1) in the COFHL behind Columbus Academy (10-0-1), Thomas Worthington (10-0-1), Bexley (7-4), Granville (7-4), Dublin Jerome (7-4) and Upper Arlington (7-4) and ahead of Olentangy Liberty (6-5), Hartley (6-5), Olentangy (6-5), Dublin Coffman (5-6), Columbus School for Girls (4-6-1), Worthington Kilbourne (2-9), Olentangy Orange (2-9), Dublin Scioto (1-10) and Lancaster (0-11).

The third-seeded Eagles opened the district tournament by defeating Kilbourne 2-0 before beating fifth-seeded Liberty 3-1 in a semifinal.

Watterson then lost to top-seeded Thomas 2-1 in overtime in the district final.

"We've had heartbreaking overtime losses in the district finals each of the past two years and the girls are looking to change that," Baird said. "We've had some luck with teams like this that weren't expected to go very far and have gone much farther than people thought they would, and we're hoping to do it again."

Volleyball team aims for district title

The girls volleyball team opened its season Aug. 25 with a 25-20, 25-23 loss to Erlanger (Ky.) St. Henry and a 18-25, 25-22, 25-21 win over Cincinnati McAuley.

The Eagles, who finished 13-12 overall a year ago, opened CCL play Aug. 28 against Columbus School for Girls.

Six players who started multiple matches last season are back in seniors Rachel Chadwick (setter), Abby Hofmeister (libero), Molly McEwan (middle hitter), Allison Merkle (setter/defensive specialist) and Kaitlyn Rabe (outside hitter) and junior Lauren Frilling (outside hitter).

Frilling, a Xavier recruit, was first-team all-league and all-district a year ago. Hofmeister is a Northwestern recruit.

Completing the lineup are juniors Caroline Canute (opposite hitter), Sam Carilli (outside hitter), Katie Cramer (defensive specialist), Gabby Dean (outside hitter), Ellen Dippolico (outside hitter), Emily Hammer (middle hitter) and Kelly Strayer (setter) and sophomore Mary Patton (opposite hitter).

"These girls have a great work ethic and they had great offseason conditioning," 17th-year coach Chuck Gleich said. "The experience and desire is there and our chemistry is working well. We're deep, too."

Last year, Watterson finished third in the CCL at 4-4, behind Hartley (7-1) and DeSales (6-2) and ahead of Ready (3-5) and Columbus School for Girls (0-8).

The 13th-seeded Eagles beat sixth-seeded Upper Arlington 25-19, 25-20, 25-15 in their Division I district tournament opener before upsetting fourth-seeded Westerville Central 25-22, 25-22, 25-23 in a semifinal.

Watterson then defeated second-seeded Newark 25-19, 25-23, 16-25, 25-17 in a final to capture its second consecutive district championship, before losing to Findlay 25-17, 22-25, 25-22, 25-18 in a regional semifinal.

"The top four teams in our league won district championships last year, and that shows how extremely talented the CCL is," Gleich said. "Hartley has most of its Division II state championship team back, so they will be tough again.

"We're playing a tough schedule, top to bottom, to make ourselves better for the tournament. Going far in the tournament is more important to us than how many wins we have at the end of the season."

Football team set to face Hamilton

Although Watterson and Hamilton never have met on the field, a reunion of sorts will occur Friday, Aug. 31, when the Eagles visit the Big Blue.

Hamilton is coached by Bob Jacoby, who led DeSales to a 168-68 record with two state championships and four state runner-up finishes from 1988-2006. While he was at DeSales, the Stallions went 8-15 against Watterson, including losing the last nine.

Jacoby coached Hamilton Township to a 10-20 mark from 2007-09 and is 12-10 with one playoff appearance at Hamilton since taking over in 2010.

The Big Blue went 4-6 a year ago.

Watterson beat Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 28-14 in its opener Aug. 24 and Hamilton edged Springfield 31-28 in the Skyline Chili Crosstown Showdown at Welcome Stadium in Dayton the next day.

The Eagles scored one touchdown in every quarter and had 263 yards of offense against Anthony Wayne. Andy Elberson, Walter Green, Alec Greene and Cody Calhoun all scored touchdowns.

Hamilton led Springfield 31-7 before holding off a late rally.