The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer team may never top last season.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer team may never top last season.

That doesn't mean the Lions can't try.

Only total perfection could top last year when the Lions went 22-0-1 and beat Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Division I state championship game at Crew Stadium. They used a 4-3 advantage in penalty kicks after the teams were scoreless through regulation and two overtimes.

The Lions' lone blemish was a scoreless tie against Watkins Mem-orial after they won their first 12.

No large-school team has ever gone unbeaten to win back-to-back state titles.

"We've got a much younger team and we've told the boys that we can't live on last year," said14th-year coach Dwayne Marshall, whose team is ranked No. 1 in the Powerade Fab 50 ESPN Rise preseason poll after finishing second last year. "Every year there's a new state tournament, so it can be taken away from us if we don't keep our heads on straight and stay focused.

"We lost 14 seniors, so we've got a lot of new kids. They're hungry and they've been holding their own throughout the summer and in our scrimmages."

Gahanna returns three starters and six letterwinners. Chief among them are senior forwards Wil Trapp and Chris Davis, two of the nation's top prospects.

Trapp, who has committed to Akron, was first-team all-Ohio, the Captain of the ThisWeek Super 12 Team and the Player of the Year in the district and the OCC-Ohio Division. Trapp, who also trained with the U.S. National Team for 16-year-olds last season, supplied nine goals and 12 assists. He converted the final penalty kick in the championship game.

Davis scored a team-high 14 goals and also had nine assists. He was first-team all-district and all-league and a member of the Super 12. Davis scored the lone goal in a 1-0 regional championship win over Olentangy Orange after setting up the tying goal in a 2-1 overtime win against Hilliard Davidson in a regional semifinal.

"The strength of the team is our forwards, with those two and senior Tyler Wollum, who was actually our second-leading scorer off the bench," Marshall said. "He's like another returning starter."

Senior Trevor Gates is the other starter returning. He plays center back in the team's 3-4-3 foundation. The other returnees are senior goalkeeper Jacob Rice and senior center midfielder Ben Crognale.

Rice replaces Ryan Grimme after the two combined for a program-record 19 shutouts as Gahanna outscored foes 75-4 overall (excluding penalty kicks). Rice, Trapp and Wollum are the captains.

"Technically, we think Rice is as good as Grimme," Marshall said. "We have 100-percent faith in Rice."

Sophomore Alex Crognale is expected to play back row alongside Gates, with seniors Blake Montgomery and T.J. Twigg vying on the opposite side.

Joining Ben Crognale in the center midfield will be junior David Witkoff. Seniors Austin Matney and Frazer Fernandes will be outside midfielders.

"We're a very skilled team with lots of speed, so I think we are reloading," said Marshall, whose program has won six consecutive league titles. "We have a lot to prove, but we have outscored our opponents 19-0 so far in scrimmages and a summer tournament in Perrysburg. We also have a deep bench."

Vying for playing time are seniors Andrew Leithart and Max Rosenthal, juniors Gavin Craig, Jeremy Fernandes, Martin Kerscher, Andrew McClurg and Louis Naiman, as well as sophomore Evren Kokcen.

•The girls team returns 12 letterwinners, including nine of whom were at least part-time starters.

The Lions finished 11-5-3 overall after losing to Dublin Coffman 1-0 in a district semifinal. Coffman was a state finalist last year. Gahanna went 5-1 in the OCC-Ohio to finish second behind Pickerington North, which finished 6-0 and also won a district title.

"We started seven underclassmen in the tournament and we're coming back with more experience and more confidence," third-year coach Jason Hardin said. "Our expectations are fairly high."

The senior class boasts three Lions who have earned multiple letters on the pitch. Midfielder Courtney Tanner and forward Lauren Robinson are seeking their fourth, with goalkeeper Shae Ferguson working on her third. Junior midfielder and junior defender Annika Nilsen also are going for their third.

"Their experience and leadership will be fantastic," Hardin said. "All these girls have grown up playing together and I think it will all come together this year. We're very fast and our midfielders can control the ball and find our speedy forwards, as well as one another."

Sophomores Maggie Mayo and Lynnsey Brim join Robinson as forwards in the Lions' 4-3-3 setup. Joining Tanner and Gogolin in the midfield is sophomore Kari Weinland.

Last season, Gogolin scored 13 goals, Weinland had 12, Robinson added 10 and Mayo had seven.

"Gogolin and Weinland control the ball well, Tanner is a proven scorer who also can cause problems with her distribution and Mayo is going to open a lot of eyes this season," Hardin said. "We've got a lot of weapons, plus we've got five very strong defenders who should become a great unit in the back once we jell."

Vying for time in the back with Nilsen are juniors Abby Grooms, Taylor Law and Shelby Palafox, along with sophomore Megan Barrick.

Rounding out the roster are senior forwards Trinity Brown and Dayna Frison, as well as sophomores Jordan Lanno and Maddie Marquez in the midfield, along with classmate Kathleen Carly on the defense.

"Our top goal is to compete well in the area, with the knowledge of how well central Ohio teams have fared in the regional and state of late," Hardin said. "We want to win our first game to gain confidence and we think we have a legitimate shot at winning our league. From there, if we turn the corner and win district, the sky is the limit."


Schedules

BOYS

Aug. 26 - at Thomas Worthington Aug. 28 - vs. Olentangy Liberty *Aug. 31 - vs. Newark Sept. 1 - vs. Bexley *Sept. 7 - at Lancaster Sept. 9 - vs. Olentangy Orange Sept. 11 - at Dublin Coffman *Sept. 14 - at Pickerington Central Sept. 16 - vs. Westerville Central *Sept. 21 - vs. Pickerington North Sept. 23 - at Dublin Jerome *Sept. 28 - at Grove City Sept. 30 - vs. Westerville North Oct. 2 - at Massillon Jackson *Oct. 5 - vs. Reynoldsburg *Oct. 12 - at Groveport

GIRLS

Aug. 24 - vs. Westerville South Aug. 26 - at Olentangy Liberty *Aug. 31 - at Newark Sept. 4 - at Marysville *Sept. 7 - vs. Lancaster Sept. 9 - at Westerville Central Sept. 11 - at Hilliard Davidson *Sept. 14 - vs. Pickerington Central Sept. 16 - at Hilliard Bradley *Sept. 21 - at Pickerington North Sept. 23 - vs. Dublin Jerome *Sept. 28 - vs. Grove City Oct. 2 - at Beavercreek *Oct. 5 - at Reynoldsburg Oct. 9 - vs. New Albany *Oct. 12 - vs. Groveport

*OCC-Ohio game