A new season brings new challenges for the Columbus Academy boys soccer team.
The Vikings are looking for another strong postseason run after reaching a Division III regional semifinal last season before losing to Mansfield Christian 3-2 (6-5 on penalty kicks) to finish 14-3-3 overall.
"We have some good leadership," said coach Ron Leach, whose team opened Aug. 20 against DeSales. "It's a very competitive group. We're hoping that they're going to come together and stay healthy. I want them to play the best possible soccer they can play. We hope it's some really good soccer for our boys."
Academy also is looking for its fourth consecutive MSL-Ohio Division title, but will have to do it in a realigned league that now includes Division III power Worthington Christian.
The Warriors made their eighth consecutive appearance in the state tournament last season, losing to Cincinnati Summit Country Day 3-0 in a semifinal. Worthington Christian won state titles in 2009 and 2011 and was runner-up in 2010.
"We have battled with Worthington Christian in the past," Leach said. "They're very good. They have a good track record. We've always played them, so it's not a lot different for us only that it becomes a league game."
Academy, Bexley and Whitehall have remained in the MSL-Ohio with Grandview, London and West Jefferson also joining the league. Madison Plains also is in the MSL-Ohio, but does not have a boys soccer team this season.
Grove City Christian has joined the MSL-Cardinal, but will play teams in the MSL-Ohio because of a lack of boys soccer teams in its division.
Granville, Heath, Newark Catholic, Lakewood and Licking Valley have joined the Licking County League.
The Vikings should be boosted by the return of senior midfielder Jack Lint, who last season was first-team all-league and second-team all-state and all-district. He scored 13 goals.
Also back is senior forward Jake Tuckerman, who was honorable mention all-league after leading the team with 20 goals.
"We have Jake and Jack back," Leach said. "They were big offensive threats last year. The offense is there. It's fine."
Senior defender Gavin Rackoff returns and will share captain duties with Lint and Tuckerman.
Senior Tyler Kohman will replace 2013 graduate Thomas Nolan in goal. Last season, Nolan had 67 saves and 14 shutouts.
Other returnees are seniors Daniel Kennedy (midfielder), Gavin Koerner (forward) and Zach Shepelak (midfielder) and juniors Marcel Knopp (defen-der), Tim Leathery (forward) and J.P. Perrini (midfielder).
Other players are seniors George Daoud (defender), Dean Firouzian (defender), Kia Khorrami (midfielder/defender) and Brian Korda (defender), juniors Chris Laskovski (midfielder/def-ender) and Wes Terveer (midfielder), sophomores Logan Baker (defender), Ryan Cullen (midfielder) and Andrew Kenn-edy (midfielder) and freshman Nate Goldfarb (defender).
Also lost to graduation was John Michael Long, a defen-der/midfielder who was first-team all-league and second-team all-state and all-district last season.
Girls soccer team returns top player
The girls soccer team returns a solid core led by senior midfielder Katerina Weikert.
She led the Vikings in scoring last season with 16 goals and 14 assists, and was the Player of the Year in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio and first-team all-district.
Weikert has verbally committed to play at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y.
"It is very nice to have Kat back and it will be nice to have her at full strength," coach Kelly Snead said. "She was injured (left high ankle sprain) for a lot of the season last year, so she had limited playing time."
Weikert and senior defender Margaret Sutton are captains for the Vikings, who open Thursday, Aug. 22, at Westerville Central.
Junior Kelly Brown (midfielder) was first-team all-district and all-league last season, and junior Annie Meacham (midfielder) was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Junior Jenna Berlet (midfielder) was second-team all-league and third-team all-district, and junior Julia Rizk (forward) was second-team all-league.
Senior Maria Mullen and sophomore Neve Alder are competing for playing time in goal.
Other returnees are senior Annie Mampieri (defender), junior Riley Ransom (midfielder) and sophomores Brianna Abell (forward), Savannah Cofer (midfielder), Miriam Knopp (midfielder), Christina Lee (forward), Nida Pervez (midfielder), Lily Rizk (defender), Louise Rosler (midfielder), Metty Schroeder (midfielder) and Caroline Silwonuk (defender).
Rounding out the team are freshmen Audrey Grammel (def-ender), Sophie Krings (forward) and Betsy Wallace (defender).
Academy will compete in the MSL-Ohio with Bexley, Grandview, London, Madison Plains, West Jefferson and Worthington Christian.
Last season, Academy lost to Worthington Christian 4-0 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
Wexner, Ballinger lead tennis squad
The girls tennis team returns senior Hannah Wexner and junior Andrea Ballinger, who won the Division II state doubles title last season.
Both began this season playing singles after winning the Vikings' first state title since 2008.
Junior Katherine Guan also returns and is playing singles. Junior Libby Sirak, sophomore Makela Hughes and freshmen Jacinta Crestanello and Sarah Wexner are competing for the doubles positions. Freshman Deeksha Bathini rounds out the team.
"It's a different group of players this year," coach Megan Martzolf said. "All the doubles players are new. It's exciting to be back at it again."
The Vikings will play in the MSL-Ohio with Bexley, Grandview, London, Whitehall and Worthington Christian.
Academy also is looking for its first Ohio Tennis Coaches Association state team title since 2008. Last season, the Vikings lost to Lexington 3-1 in the final.
"We were really happy that Hannah and Andrea won last year, but we were second place as a team last year, so we're really working this year to do better as a team," Martzolf said.
The Vikings opened with a 4-1 loss to visiting North Canton Hoover on Aug. 12, as Ballinger won 6-1, 6-2 at first singles.
Academy also lost to visiting Cincinnati Sycamore 4-1 on Aug. 13, as Hannah Wexner won 6-3, 7-5 at third singles.
The Vikings defeated Lexington 3-2 on Aug. 15 at home. Winners were Ballinger 6-3, 6-3 at first singles, Hannah Wexner 6-2, 6-2 at second singles and Guan 7-6, 6-4 at third singles.