The Dublin Jerome High School boys soccer team won four Division I district titles in its first six seasons, but didn't advance beyond a district semifinal the past four.
The Celtics are hoping to return to their championship form this fall.
"We have the bodies now and the good leadership of the senior class and good support of the junior class," said 11th-year coach Nate Maust, whose team opened Aug. 19 at home against Olentangy. "The guys are already connecting off the field. It's going to be a matter of time once we get into our rhythm, once things start to click. Our goal is to again be in a district final, win our league. Those kind of things that Dublin Jerome is used to doing."
Last season, Jerome finished 7-6-6 overall, losing to Hilliard Bradley 2-1 in a district semifinal, and went 1-3-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to tie Scioto (2-4-1) for fifth, behind champion Bradley (5-0-2).
The Celtics, who begin league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Bradley, last won district and league championships in 2009.
Among the key returnees are senior midfielder Eric Rozsits, who was named special mention all-league last year, and junior midfielder Mitch Patchett, who was honorable mention all-league.
According to Maust, 6-foot-4 junior goalkeeper Brennon Davis was impressive during the preseason and was expected to open the season as the starter. The Celtics' other goalie is senior Nathan Keller.
"Brennon Davis is one of the best goaltenders in the area," said Maust, whose team went 5-3-6 in its final 14 games last season after winning only two of its first five. "He's tall, he sees the field well and he's very vocal. The nice thing about Nathan is he puts a lot of pressure on Brennon to constantly be good and he helps us out a lot in training and practice."
Other returnees are seniors Andrew Adolph (defender), Drew Bergwall (forward), Noah Frey (midfielder), Michael Laufersweiler (defender), Aaron Muresan (midfielder) and Devon Potts (defender) and juniors Clay Costner (defender), Andrew Sunderhaus (defender) and Austin Tiarks (defender).
Maust called Laufersweiler the team's defensive leader and said Rozsits is the leader among the forwards and midfielders.
Also on the team are seniors Berkay Karahan (defender) and Simon Kim (midfielder), juniors Ian Black (forward), Andrew Chou (midfielder) and Noah Schmidhammer (forward) and sophomores Ben Beuerlein (midfielder/defender) and Ben Sobotka (forward).
Bergwall, Frey, Laufersweiler and Rozsits are captains.
"We were a young team last year and all the people matured," Rozsits said. "All of our sophomores are now juniors and our juniors are now seniors. We'll be really good this year. We need to play better as a team on every possession. We also need to move off the ball a lot and find the open pocket."
Irish expecting better results
Scioto hopes to return to its championship form of 2010 and 2011, when it won back-to-back OCC-Cardinal titles.
The Irish finished 6-11-1 overall last season.
Scioto opened Aug. 19 at Whetstone and begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Westerville Central.
"We're much improved from last year," seventh-year coach Chad Snider said. "We have 14 guys back from last year. They're all juniors and seniors. They have the experience and they're looking good so far. I love the competition. It makes them better players."
Among the key returnees is senior midfielder Jack Shadoan, who was first-team all-league last year.
"We'd like to have a winning record and place (high) in the (OCC-Cardinal)," Shadoan said. "We have a lot of returning experience, so I definitely think we can be a top contender for the (league title)."
Shadoan and senior defender Aidan Farrell are captains.
Also back are senior Nick McCoy and junior Joel Schuster, who were vying for the starting spot in goal.
"Nick has a bunch of confidence and he's playing well and Schuster has put on about 10 more pounds of muscle and they're both looking excellent," Snider said.
The other returnees are senior Johnny Gaunt (defender) and juniors Christian Gastaldo (midfielder/forward), Nile Ismail (midfielder), Owen Kubalak (defender), Andres Mujica (forward/midfielder), Adler Pierce (defender), Matt Scoliere (defender/midfielder), Nathan Trihn (midfielder), Koh Yamakawa (midfielder) and Ryo Yanagase (midfielder).
Rounding out the team are seniors Daniel Bedalli (defender), Andy Chun (defender) and Josh Lim (midfielder) and juniors Ryan McCuen (midfielder/defender), Jack Shealy (defender/midfielder) and Cory Trotti (defender).
Shamrocks looking to defend titles
Coffman entered the season with its sights set on defending its district and OCC-Central championships.
Last season, the Shamrocks finished 16-3-2 overall, losing to Olentangy Liberty 2-1 in overtime in a Division I regional final. It marked the fourth consecutive year in which the Patriots ended Coffman's season.
The Shamrocks lost to Liberty by a score of 3-1 in a regional final in 2011 and 2012 and lost to the Patriots 2-1 in a district semifinal in 2010.
Coffman defeated Liberty 1-0 during the regular season last year on its way to winning the OCC-Central title at 6-1, as the Patriots placed second (5-2).
"We have plenty back this year to be successful," said sixth-year coach Steve Watts, whose team opened Aug. 19 against Olentangy and begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Hilliard Davidson.
"The upperclassmen have been through some battles the last few years and know what it takes and know how close we've come and just that little bit extra that we need to do to get further."
Among the key returnees is senior forward Ben Kinney, who had 13 goals and 12 assists last year and was named district and league Player of the Year, first-team all-state and captain of ThisWeek's Super 12 team.
"We just want to get back into the tournament and pick up where we left off last year," Kinney said.
"We always want to go for a state title. We have a lot of good kids coming back."
Also back are seniors Justin Boamah (forward), Patrick Gualtieri (forward), Eric Sankovich (defender), Nate Schimming (midfielder), Jon Schwantes (midfielder) and Joey Zaborszki (goalie), juniors Jack Holland (midfielder) and Pete Malloy (midfielder) and sophomores Matt Kiley (defender), Joey Rudolph (defender) and Taichi Uchida (forward).
Gualtieri, Holland, Kiley, Kinney, Malloy, Sankovich and Zaborszki, who had 86 saves a year ago, are returning starters. Gualtieri was second-team all-league.
Gualtieri, who was second-team all-league last year, is sharing the captain duties with Kinney and Sankovich.
Rounding out the team are seniors Zack Hadley (defender) and Matt Kuzma (defender), juniors Jackson Grether (defender), Tristan Harrower (midfielder) and Chad Johnson (midfielder), sophomore Andrew Pfeiffer (midfielder) and freshman Luke Kiley (forward).
"They have potential to go as far as they want to go," Watts said.
"The work rate seems to be there so far and the talent seems to be there. It's a matter of guys filling into some roles that they may not be used to here at first and just getting cohesive on those things."
Aug. 19 -- vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 22 -- vs. Gahanna
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 2 -- at Marysville
Sept. 4 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 13 -- at Scioto
*Sept. 16 -- at Central Crossing
Sept. 18 -- vs. Jerome
Sept. 20 -- at Westerville South
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 27 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 30 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Oct. 4 -- vs. Whitehouse Anthony Wayne
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Oct. 9 -- at Olentangy
Aug. 19 -- vs. Olentangy
Aug. 19 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 28 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 2 -- at Hilliard Darby
Sept. 4 -- at Upper Arlington
*Sept. 9 -- at Westerville North
Sept. 11 -- vs. Gahanna
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Scioto
Sept. 18 -- at Coffman
*Sept. 23 -- at Canal Winchester
Sept. 25 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Westerville South
Oct. 2 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Oct. 7 -- at Westerville Central
Oct. 9 -- vs. DeSales
Aug. 19 -- at Whetstone
*Aug. 26 -- at Westerville Central
Aug. 28 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Westerville North
Sept. 4 -- at Grove City
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Westerville South
Sept. 13 -- vs. Coffman
*Sept. 16 -- at Jerome
Sept 18 -- vs. Pickerington Central
Sept. 20 -- vs. Chillicothe
*Sept. 23 -- at Hilliard Darby
Sept. 25 -- vs. St. Charles
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Oct. 4 -- at Westland
*Oct. 7 -- at Canal Winchester