Possibilities are plentiful for the Grandview Heights High School girls soccer team, and it is coach Mike Merna's job to find the right combination among a deep roster.

Possibilities are plentiful for the Grandview Heights High School girls soccer team, and it is coach Mike Merna's job to find the right combination among a deep roster.

So far, it's been a little frustrating.

"Last year we finished so strong and we thought this year would be a continuation of that," Merna said. "It hasn't been the case. With so many players back, it just hasn't come together yet. Hopefully there will be some clarity in a few weeks."

Grandview finished 12-5-2 overall last season after losing 1-0 in double overtime to Bexley in a Division III district semifinal. The Bobcats went 5-2 in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio Division, finishing behind Bexley (7-0) and Granville (6-1), and ahead of Columbus Academy (4-3), Fisher Catholic (3-4), Lakewood (2-5), West Jefferson (1-6) and Heath (0-7).

Grandview graduated three players but has returned 14 letterwinners.

"We have pretty good players and so many options, which is nice," Merna said. "But we have to find that right combination."

During the preseason, Merna stressed patience to his players, as one player may see 50-70 minutes of action one night and only 20 the next. It is the means to the end, which is a consistent lineup.

Among the Bobcats' key letterwinners are seniors Danielle Clark (midfielder) and Sarah Meier (forward), junior Jordan Fitzgerald (forward) and sophomore Abby Riggs (goalkeeper). Meier led the team with 12 goals last season.

"A lot of our offense will come through the midfield," Merna said. "All of our midfielders are back, so if they're playing well, we'll have more offense and create scoring chances. It'll then be up to our forwards to convert the chances."

Grandview averaged only 1.79 goals a game last season.

"Part of our struggles last season was our midfield couldn't contain and possess the ball enough," Merna said. "I hope we can find combinations that allow us to do that."

On defense, Riggs takes over for Allison Grasha as goalkeeper. Grasha totaled 64 saves last season. Riggs started for the junior varsity and saw limited varsity action.

"She has to take big steps for us to be successful," Merna said. "I'm confident in her with the hard work she put in over the summer."

Also expected to contribute are seniors Tiffany Bauer (midfielder) and Rachel Lewis (forward), juniors Emily Lachey (defender), Rachel Metzler (defender), Caroline Sanders (defender) and Caitlyn Sarich (defender), sophomores Mia Bell (defender), Anna Davis (midfielder), Lauren Jones (midfielder), Julie Menke (defender), Christina Pinney (forward), Lindsey Smith (midfielder) and Alex Toothman (midfielder) and freshmen Halli Bair (forward), Corinne Rase (goalie) and Laura Satterthwaite (midfielder).

"Teams I've had in the past have been easy to define 11 starters," Merna said. "We haven't found it yet this year, but like last year, by the end of the season it should come together pretty nicely."

•The boys soccer team is scaling back its aggressiveness. A year after the Bobcats finished 17-2 overall, which tied the program record for wins set in 1999, and won a ninth consecutive MSL-Cardinal title at 5-0, different personnel is necessitating the change.

"We have a great bunch of kids, quality players, good players, but we did (graduate) 14 guys," coach Brian Neidenthal said. "It'll just take us a little bit longer to get seasoned this year."

Grandview's aggressiveness led to 98 goals in 19 games before the Bobcats lost to Columbus Academy 3-0 in a Division III district final.

"We still need to attack on offense," Neidenthal said. "But we'll probably define ourselves with team defense."

Juniors Ben Mathes (defender) and Brendan Cox (defender) are two-year letterwinners and join senior goalkeeper Mason Golding to highlight the Bobcats' defense, which allowed 11 goals last season.

"Right there in our back line is experience and talent and they all know each other well," Neidenthal said. "Our upperclassmen are more on the defensive side, so that's where our leadership and experience will come from. We're excited those guys will keep us in games and give us a chance to score the ball. Good defense will always keep you in the game."

Grandview returns two four-year varsity players in senior captains Dylan Golding (midfielder) and Mason Golding.

"We have good senior leadership," Neidenthal said. "Even though we graduated 14 players, we have at least seven starters who are upperclassmen. We can use that and it won't take long. It's not necessarily a rebuilding year for us."

Grandview needs to replace offensive leaders Sam Stull and Mario Fortin. Stull led the Bobcats with 35 goals last season to finish his career with a program-record 74. Fortin was a four-year varsity player who started at forward the last three seasons.

Junior Connor Phillips, a two-year letterwinner, is expected to start his first season at forward and classmate Erza Baker returns to the midfield after serving as backup goalkeeper last year.

"These current players got to play with a bunch of talented soccer players last year," Neidenthal said. "That helped them improve as they competed in practice every day."


At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Grandview Heights boys golf, boys soccer, cross country, football, girls soccer, girls tennis and volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 9 - Finished eighth (373) at nine-team Jaguar Early Bird Invitational, behind champion Bexley (331)

Aug. 10 - Finished ninth (372) at 12-team North Union Invitational, behind champion Wellington (292)

Aug. 11 - Finished 13th (373) at 16-team Fairbanks Invitational, behind champion Springfield Shawnee (318)

Aug. 12 - Tied for fourth (375) with Haviland Wayne Trace at eight-team Grandview Invitational, behind champion Hartley (346)

Aug. 16 - Finished 11th (404) at 16-team Port Clinton Invitational, behind champion Avon Lake (333)

Aug. 17 - Finished second (353) at seven-team MSL-Cardinal Preseason Invitational, behind champion Liberty Union (334). Connor Sarich (84) finished third.

Last Friday - Finished sixth (356) at 11-team Heath Invitational, behind champion Heath (317)

Last Wednesday - Competed against West Jefferson

Today - Licking Heights at TBA

Tuesday - Liberty Union at TBA

BOYS SOCCER

Saturday - At Jonathan Alder in opener

CROSS COUNTRY

Saturday - At Newark Catholic Invitational

FOOTBALL

Friday - At Utica in opener

GIRLS SOCCER

Today - Home vs. Jonathan Alder in opener

Tuesday - Home vs. Liberty Union

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 17 - Defeated Marysville 3-2 in opener

Aug. 18 - Lost to Hilliard Davidson 5-0

Aug. 19 - Lost to Worthington Christian 5-0

Last Wednesday - Played Canal Winchester

Today - Home vs. Circleville

Tuesday - Home vs. Hamilton Township

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Tuesday - At Ready in opener

Schedules

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 28 - at Jonathan Alder

Sept. 2 - vs. Fairbanks

Sept. 4 - at Tree of Life

Sept. 7 - vs. Columbus Academy

Sept. 9 - vs. Northridge

Sept. 11 - vs. Wellington

Sept. 14 - vs. Delaware Christian

*Sept. 16 - at West Jefferson

*Sept. 23 - at Fisher Catholic

Sept. 25 - at Hartley

Sept. 28 - vs. Worthington Christian

*Sept. 30 - vs. Liberty Union

*Oct. 5 - vs. Harvest Prep

Oct. 7 - at Gahanna Christian

Oct. 9 - vs. Whitehall

*Oct. 14 - at Licking Heights

*MSL-Cardinal game

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 26 - vs. Jonathan Alder

Aug. 31 - vs. Liberty Union

*Sept. 2 - at Heath

Sept. 4 - vs. Wellington

Sept. 7 - at Columbus School for Girls

*Sept. 9 - vs. Fisher Catholic

*Sept. 16 - at Lakewood

Sept. 18 - at Circleville

*Sept. 23 - at Bexley

Sept. 25 - at Ready

Sept. 28 - at Fairbanks

*Sept. 30 - vs. West Jefferson

*Oct. 7 - vs. Granville

Oct. 9 - vs. Hartley

Oct. 12 - vs. Whetstone

*Oct. 14 - at Columbus Academy

*MSL-Cardinal/Ohio game