Although his team lost several key players, Gahanna Christian Academy boys soccer coach Scott Ramsey hopes the Eagles can defend their MOCAL title.
Last season, the Eagles finished 16-2 overall and won their first MOCAL title at 4-0.
The best season in program history ended with a 2-1 loss to Columbus International in a Division III district semifinal.
"It's a completely different team," Ramsey said. "We lost quite a few players, but I don't expect it to be a complete rebuilding year. It's going to be a different challenge."
The Eagles opened by winning at home against Torah Academy 6-1 on Aug. 21. Senior forward Jared Haugen and sophomore midfielder Madison Schlesselman each scored two goals and senior Alec Schlesselman (5) and junior Ian McPherson (4) combined for nine saves in goal.
Gahanna Christian lost eight players to graduation, including Connor Maclellan, who had 21 goals and 18 assists and was first-team all-league and second-team all-district, and Connor Dyckes, who had seven goals and eight assists and was first-team all-league.
Junior forward Emmanuel Dapaa is not back with the team. He led the team in scoring last season with 35 goals and 15 assists, and was first-team all-district and all-league and second-team all-state.
"We enjoyed our time with Emmanuel and wish him the best," Ramsey said. "You coach who shows up and coach that team and that's the team we're moving forward with.
"They're excited. The kids are a little disappointed (about Dapaa), but they're a strong group and they're still looking forward to a good year."
Ramsey is hoping for another strong season from Alec Schlesselman, who finished with 173 saves last year and was first-team all-league and third-team all-district.
Also back are senior Sam Sibert (defender), juniors Luke Fout (midfielder), Rachel Ohm (midfielder) and Chris Schoen (defender) and sophomores Andrew Brewer (forward), Jeshua Ennis (defender) and Arianna Wyant (defender).
"We have quite a few players from last year's team -- a lot of the reserve players from last year -- so they're motivated," Ramsey said.
"They want to continue that success."
Others looking to contribute are seniors Tani Ajaiyeoba (forward), Eddie Dilts (defender), Alex Grubich (midfielder), Charlie Lawson (defender) and Michael Ramsey (forward), junior Yeilyn Rodriguez (midfielder) and freshmen Jada Day (midfielder), Kalikeyas Hailemariam (forward), Addi Ramsey (defender) and Nehemiah Tanga (midfielder).
"We have some really good teams in our league and that is an ultimate goal to win the MOCAL," Sibert said. "We have a really good chance. We have a lot of new players and people who haven't played before, people at new positions, but with the coaching staff and how dedicated we are, we have a really good chance of winning the MOCAL again this year."
Girls volleyball team returns solid group
After not losing any players to graduation, the girls volleyball team is looking to improve on last season's 9-12 finish.
The Eagles opened by losing at Liberty Union 25-16, 25-12, 25-17 on Aug. 18 and at home against Grove City Christian 25-14, 25-18, 25-22 on Aug. 21.
"We're expecting better," coach Nate Kirk said. "They had a nervous night (against Liberty Union). They never loosened up. We just could not get our passes down. We played pretty tight. We're hoping that we'll loosen up a little bit more."
On Aug. 23, the Eagles lost at home to Columbus School for Girls 19-25, 15-9, 25-22 and Berne Union 17-25, 25-16, 25-16. They defeated Northside Christian 25-13, 25-13, 25-17 on Aug. 25 and began MOCAL play Aug. 26 at Madison Christian.
The top returnee is senior setter and outside hitter Jenna Kirk, the coach's daughter who last season was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
"I'm excited to play with all the seniors and I'm excited for my senior year," she said. "We have decided as a team to try our best and hopefully win the MOCAL."
Also back are senior setter and outside hitter Melissa Sutton, who was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, and senior middle hitter Karina Sauder, who was honorable mention all-league.
Other returnees are seniors Caitlin Jacques (defensive specialist), Sarah Manko (defensive specialist), Kaylah Price (outside hitter) and Grace Roehrenbeck (outside hitter) and sophomore Katie Downing (middle hitter).
Sophomore Kalie Manko (defensive specialist) rounds out the team.
Last season, the Eagles went 3-5 in the MOCAL to tie Delaware Christian for third behind champion Madison Christian (8-0).
"The MOCAL is always tough for us," coach Kirk said. "We definitely plan on being part of the mix."
Aug. 21 -- vs. Torah Academy
Aug. 26 -- at Liberty Union
Aug. 29 -- vs. Village Academy
Sept. 2 -- vs. Columbus International
Sept. 5 -- vs. Wellington
*Sept. 8 -- at Madison Christian
Sept. 11 -- at Big Walnut
Sept. 12 -- at Patriot Prep
*Sept. 16 -- at Granville Christian
Sept. 22 -- vs. Circleville New Hope Christian
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Tree of Life
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Delaware Christian
Oct. 4 -- vs. Johnstown
Oct. 6 -- at Lakewood
Oct. 9 -- at Northside Christian
Aug. 18 -- at Liberty Union
Aug. 21 -- vs. Grove City Christian
Aug. 23 -- vs. Berne Union and Columbus School for Girls
Aug. 25 -- vs. Northside Christian
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Madison Christian
*Aug. 28 -- at Granville Christian
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Tree of Life
Sept. 4 -- at Patriot Prep
Sept. 5 -- at Liberty Christian
Sept. 8 -- at Columbus Academy
Sept. 9 -- at Village Academy
*Sept. 13 -- at Tree of Life
Sept. 15 -- vs. Marion Franklin
*Sept. 16 -- at Madison Christian
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Delaware Christian
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Granville Christian
Sept. 27 -- vs. Fairfield Christian and Gilead Christian
Sept. 29 -- vs. Mount Gilead
*Sept. 30 -- at Delaware Christian
Oct. 6 -- at Columbus International