When the South-Western City Schools levy finally passed last November and reinstated sports in the district, Central Crossing High School boys soccer coach Chas McCutcheon immediately saw an opportunity.

When the South-Western City Schools levy finally passed last November and reinstated sports in the district, Central Crossing High School boys soccer coach Chas McCutcheon immediately saw an opportunity.

Luckily for him, most of the players stuck around and he almost immediately was able to get them working together to drum up interest in the program. The result is a team that has struggled with numbers in the past ended up with more than 60 players during summer workouts.

"We have 13 seniors that spent a lot of time talking to guys and getting guys to come out," said McCutcheon, who is in his second season with the Comets. "We had a lot of guys coming out. We had to cut 22 guys."

What was a young team two years ago is now a seasoned group in terms of age. There are eight players — seniors Michael Bauman, Luke Carmichael, Geoffrey Doherty, Eric Fogle, Ahmed Haji, Matthew McKenzie and Isaac Sakyi and junior Mack Bostard — who return after having played varsity in 2008.

Carmichael, Doherty and Haji are expected to lead the team as well as sophomores Andrew Diemer and Evan Fogle, both of whom join the team with high club-level experience.

In 2008, the Comets finished 2-13-1 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Central Division.

With the experience returning, McCutcheon thinks this could be the year the Comets start building a winner.

"I think this is the strongest team we've ever had at Central Crossing," he said. "We're definitely going to surprise some people this year."

Despite having the numbers, there still was a question at goalkeeper. The Comets were able to fill that void when Bostard transferred back to the district from Gahanna Christian.

Also on the team are seniors Asad Shirdon, Enrique Silva-Revilla and Jose Zuluaga and juniors Abdi Ahmed, Bilaal Ahmed, Mario Alvarado, Sean Fahy, Fuad Haji and Osman Harir.

In 2008, the Comets were seventh in the OCC-Central, behind Worthington Kilbourne (7-0), Upper Arlington (5-1-1), Hilliard Davidson (3-2-2), Dublin Coffman (4-2-1), Hilliard Darby (2-3-2) and Thomas Worthington (3-4) and ahead of Westland (0-7).

That season ended with a 3-0 loss to Mount Vernon in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

•The girls team wasn't as fortunate regarding the number of returnees.

The Comets are hoping to be able to field a varsity and junior varsity team, but a couple of injuries could derail the j.v. season.

"We basically have our 11 starters and two reserves on the varsity," first-year coach Alan Green said. "We're going to have a j.v. team, but if we have injuries we might have to cancel a few games."

Like past Comets teams, this year's squad has players of all different backgrounds. The focus in the preseason has been getting those players to mesh.

"It's just working in practice and playing together," Green said. "We don't have a lot of varsity experience. Our goal this year is to be competitive."

Leading the Comets is senior defender Madison Bostard, who was a key player on the team as a sophomore and is the lone returnee with varsity experience. She stayed at Central Crossing last year, sitting out the season.

Junior defenders Regan Townsend and Marissa Cajigal were in the program as freshmen and are expected to bolster Central Crossing's back line. Leading the midfield is junior Kendyl Green, and freshman Haleigh Cook leads the forwards.

Also on the team are seniors Lena Beckwith and Mikala Shimmel, junior Regina Lynn, sophomores Halle Holcomb, Megan Johnson, Alina Khadzhayev, Kaley Lents, Skyler Lucas, Taylor McConnell, Lillie Plebansanski and Alina Yakhnitskaya and freshmen Renee Beal, Natalie Bolanos-Cruz, Anna Brandon, Olivia Downing, Abra Eggleton, Autumn Jones and Alexis Sam.

In 2008, the Comets were 4-12-1 overall and 1-5-1 in the OCC-Central, placing seventh behind UA (5-1-1), Davidson (5-0-2), Kilbourne (4-0-3), Coffman (3-1-3), Darby (2-3-2) and Thomas Worthington (2-5) and ahead of Westland (0-7). UA has been the top-seeded team in the district tournament the past two seasons.

Schedules

BOYS

Aug. 24 — at Teays Valley

*Aug. 31 — at Dublin Coffman

Sept. 2 — vs. New Albany

*Sept. 7 — vs. Hilliard Darby

Sept. 9 — at Grove City

*Sept. 14 — vs. Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 16 — vs. Groveport

*Sept. 21 — at Upper Arlington

Sept. 23 — at Big Walnut

*Sept. 28 — at Worthington Kilbourne

Sept. 30 — vs. Pickerington North

*Oct. 5 — vs. Thomas Worthington

Oct. 7 — at Northland

Oct. 12 — at Westland

Oct. 13 — vs. Franklin Heights

Oct. 14 — vs. Jonathan Alder

GIRLS

Aug. 24 — at Canal Winchester

Aug. 26 — at New Albany

*Aug. 31 — vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 2 — at Groveport

*Sept. 7 — at Hilliard Darby

Sept. 9 — vs. Grove City

*Sept. 14 — at Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 16 — at Westerville Central

Sept. 18 — vs. West Muskingum

*Sept. 21 — vs. Upper Arlington

Sept. 23 — vs. Big Walnut

*Sept. 28 — vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Sept. 30 — at Newark

Oct. 2 — vs. Teays Valley

*Oct. 5 — at Thomas Worthington

*Oct. 12 — vs. Westland

*OCC-Central game