Offense is concern for Grove City boys
The Grove City High School boys soccer team didn't worry about offense last season because of a veteran group of forwards.
But those scoring threats were lost to graduation, and the Greyhounds now are looking to the midfield and defense to help improve on last fall's 6-10-1 overall record. Grove City lost to Olentangy 2-1 in the opening round of the Division I district tournament.
Forwards Zach Brenner (10 goals, 1 assist), Sam Coachman (10 goals, 2 assists) and Garrett Salyer (5 goals, 5 assists) all graduated last spring.
"As of now, being able to score is our biggest concern," said coach Jamie Dato, who is in his fifth season leading the program. "All five forwards have never played varsity soccer and it will take them awhile to get used to the speed and physicality of the players they match up against. What they did and were successful with on the j.v. level will not necessarily work on the varsity level. As they understand the flow of play more and the pace of the game, I think the scoring will eventually come."
The Greyhounds have seven returning starters, all of whom play in the midfield or on defense. They are seniors Nick Criss (center midfielder), Zach Crossen (defender), Taisto Laine (goalkeeper), Joey Scarberry (sweeper) and Bryton Wise (stopper) and juniors Tyler Dunn (center midfielder) and Josh Townley (outside midfielder).
Other returning letterwinners are senior Jared Stephenson (outside midfielder) and junior Scottie Luchini (center midfielder).
"I think the strength of the team is the midfield and defense, which includes the goalkeeping, because that's where our returning players are," said Dato, whose team opened Aug. 21 against Marys-ville. "I have seven players who will be playing their third season of varsity and they are all midfielders or defenders."
Rounding out the roster are juniors Ben Colburn (defender), Alex Farkas (goalie), Chandler Heery (forward), Brendan Mountain (outside midfielder), Matt Myers (outside midfielder), Cody Nicholson (defender), Phil Stonerock (defender), Brendan Sullivan (forward) and Tryston Tanner (defender) and sophomore Kevin Hull (forward).
"I kept 17 field players and two goalkeepers," Dato said. "I plan on using each player that is on the bench in every game in a role that best fits his abilities and will benefit the team the most. I tried to do the best job I could at picking players who could all contribute in some way, whether big or small, and not have any players who I could not trust to place on the field."
Grove City opens OCC-Ohio Division play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at home against Reynoldsburg.
Last season, the Greyhounds went 2-5 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Lancaster for fifth, behind Gahanna (7-0), Pickerington Central and Pickerington North (both 5-2) and Reynoldsburg (3-3-1) and ahead of Groveport (1-4-2) and Newark (1-5-1).
Girls team could have growing pains
The girls team lost 10 of 17 players from last season's squad that finished 11-5-2 overall with a 3-0 loss to second-seeded Dublin Coffman in a Division I district semifinal. Grove City had a first-round bye and beat Central Crossing 6-1 in the second round.
The Greyhounds have five starters back in seniors Taylor Bayes (defender) and Paige Linville (forward), juniors Ashley Artrip (forward) and Maddy Kruki (midfielder) and sophomore Megan Farr (defender).
Grove City finished fourth (4-2-1) in the OCC-Ohio last season, behind Gahanna (7-0), Pickerington North (5-1-1) and Pickerington Central (5-2) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (2-5), Lancaster (1-4-2) and Groveport and Newark (both 0-5-2).
Artrip was named first-team all-district and all-league after scoring 19 goals with nine assists. The next top scorers back are Kruki (6 goals, 3 assists), junior midfielder Kendra White (5 goals) and sophomore forward Makenna Allmon (3 goals, 2 assists).
"Our forwards are the strength of the team," fourth-year coach Josh Keller said. "It didn't show in our three scrimmages, but I know we can put the ball in the net. That's where our experience is."
Senior forward Lexi Paas, who had 10 goals with 13 assists last season and was named third-team all-district and first-team all-league, now attends Central Crossing. Another senior, midfielder Breleigh Bias, now attends Chillicothe Zane Trace.
Another returning letterwinner, senior goalkeeper Gabby Rodriguez, steps in for 2012 graduate Nicole Sprow, who was second-team all-league.
"Gabby has paid her dues and is ready to step in goal," Keller said. "She looked good all summer and I think she will be strong between the pipes."
Rounding out the roster are juniors Cierra Coonrod (forward), Grace Monhemuis (midfielder/forward) and Marie Mayers (defender), sophomore Hannah Davis (midfielder) and freshmen Riley Bowyer (forward), Lindsay Jones (midfielder), Andrea Luchini (defender), Tyler Ryan (defender) and Rachel Townley (midfielder).
The Greyhounds opened Aug. 21 against Marysville. They begin league play at Reynoldsburg on Tuesday, Aug. 28.