Gahanna Lincoln Roundup
Gahanna boys soccer team adjusting to changes
Gahanna's Andrew Schwall heads the ball away from a pair of Groveport players during the host Lions' 2-0 victory Aug. 28 in their OCC-Ohio opener Buy This Photo
The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer team is unfamiliar with -- but not down -- about the situation it finds itself in as it enters the heart of its OCC-Ohio Division schedule.
Winners of eight consecutive OCC championships, the Lions opened league play Aug. 28 by beating Groveport 2-0 and played a Newark team on Sept. 4 that they defeated 11-0 a year ago.
Gahanna expects things to become more challenging, however, as a slew of players adjust to playing a different position or being in key roles for the first time against a league schedule that should get tougher.
Senior Bryan Kromer is an example of someone who fits both situations, as he was on junior varsity a year ago and was asked to step in at center back during the preseason because of an injury to senior Joe Chandler.
"Actually, we feel great about our situation," Kromer said. "We see it as going under the radar, and we know we're just going to keep getting better and better. I think we're in great position."
Kromer, who played at Amherst Steele in northeast Ohio as a freshman before moving to Gahanna as a sophomore, is expected to remain at center back even after Chandler returns sometime later this month.
Chandler, who made first-team all-league last season, could be asked to fill a variety of roles once he returns.
Senior Costa Poulias recently went down with an injury that could sideline him for as little as two weeks or as long as the rest of the season, according to coach Todd Keenan.
Junior Hayden Pfeifer and freshman Chad Barrick, each of whom is a key defender, endured head injuries that kept them out of a 3-all tie against Westerville South on Aug. 30.
The Lions, who were 2-1-1 overall before playing Newark, travel Thursday, Sept. 6, to Olentangy and play Tuesday, Sept. 11, at Reynoldsburg in a league contest. They opened with a 1-0 win over Upper Arlington on Aug. 21 and lost to Olentangy Liberty 4-0 on Aug. 25.
In addition to Kromer, seniors Andrew Schwall, Caleb Gruenbaum and Evren Gokcen and junior Jacob Johnson have been among the Lions' standouts thus far, according to Keenan.
"We've got a lot of new faces and we're making a lot of mistakes that you'd expect us to make," Keenan said. "The good thing is that they're very coachable and are willing to work hard. Hopefully, we'll be a different team later in the season than we are now. Our motto is, 'Get better every day.' ... We've been dealing with a lot of adversity. Everybody has been stepping up in their own way."
Girls tennis team enduring ups, downs
The girls tennis team was 2-3 overall before playing Reynoldsburg in an OCC-Ohio match on Sept. 4, but the Lions would have had a better record if a few things had gone their way, according to coach Chris Schwinnen.
Gahanna lost 3-2 to Bexley on Aug. 22 and fell to Reynoldsburg 3-2 on Aug. 29 in the OTCA tournament.
"It's been going OK," Schwinnen said. "We're 2-3 and I'd much prefer that we were 4-1. We had a close match against Reynoldsburg that we let slip away. We're trying to get a regular top seven, but we have 11 or 12 girls that are fighting for varsity time. That can be both good and bad. It's good to have that motivation, but it's tough to tell someone who's been working hard that they're not going to play that match."
Through five matches, senior Kiara Shaw and junior Emily Merickel, who are playing first and second singles, respectively, were among the team's standouts, according to Schwinnen.
Schwinnen also was pleased with the play of senior Cara Monico and sophomore Elizabeth Sullivan.
"Kiara and Emily have been doing a good job at first and second singles," he said, "and Elizabeth Sullivan and Cara Monico have been doing a great job. Sometimes they're at first doubles and sometimes they're at second doubles. They've adjusted to wherever I've asked them to play."