Coach Josh Keller could not have been prouder of his Grove City High School girls soccer team.
The 12th-seeded Greyhounds went toe-to-toe with third-seeded Dublin Jerome for much of their Division I district semifinal Oct. 23 before losing to the host Celtics 2-0.
"I'm incredibly proud because we gave them all they could handle," said Keller, whose team finished 9-5-4 overall. "We only have three seniors and we have eight freshmen who dressed on our tournament roster. We played great with a young team."
Jerome senior forward Lindsay Agnew, who played for Canada in the 2012 FIFA U17 World Cup for part of the fall season, scored in the first five minutes of play. The Greyhounds also gave up an own goal.
"We came in wanting to stop Agnew and we were able to hold her in check after the quick goal," Keller said. "We could have crumbled after that early goal, but we didn't."
After a first-round tournament bye, the Greyhounds defeated Hilliard Darby 2-1 in overtime Oct. 18 in the second round of district play.
Grove City finished second (5-1-1) in the OCC-Ohio Division behind Pickerington North (7-0) and ahead of Gahanna (5-2), Pickerington Central (4-3), Reynoldsburg (3-3-1), Lancaster (1-5-1), Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-6-1).
Junior forward Ashley Artrip was first-team all-district and all-league after leading the Greyhounds with 17 goals. Senior goalkeeper Gabby Rodriguez was third-team all-district and first-team all-league with 150 saves and an 88.8 save percentage.
Senior forward Paige Linville was second-team all-league with three goals and six assists. Senior defender Taylor Bayes (1 goal, 1 assist) and junior forward Kendra White (2 goals, 2 assists) were second-team all-league.
Junior midfielder Maddy Kruki (4 goals, 3 assists) was special mention all-league and sophomore defender Megan Farr was honorable mention all-league.
Seniors Bayes, Linville and Rodriguez "were my originals," said Keller, who completed his third season. "They were sophomores when I got here and they had missed their freshman season because of the levy failure. It's going to take some time to replace those three."
Juniors expected back are Artrip, Cierra Coonrod (forward; 2 assists), Kruki, Marie Mayers (defender), Grace Monheimus (midfielder; 3 goals, 1 assist) and White.
Others expected to return are sophomores Makenna Allmon (midfielder; 4 goals, 6 assists), Hannah Davis (midfielder; 3 assists) and Farr and freshmen Riley Bowyer (forward; 6 goals, 3 assists), Xochitl Cajigal (goalkeeper), Natalie Cooper (forward), Lindsay Jones (defender), Anna Lilly (midfielder), Andrea Luchini (defender), Tyler Ryan (defender) and Rachel Townley (midfielder; 3 assists).
Comets looking for improvement
Central Crossing finished 3-13-1 overall, losing to top-seeded Dublin Coffman 10-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. Both teams had a first-round bye.
The Comets tied Westland for seventh (0-6-1) in the OCC-Central behind Coffman (6-0-1), Hilliard Davidson (6-1), Olentangy Liberty (5-2), Thomas Worthington (3-3-1), Marysville (2-2-3) and Upper Arlington (2-4-1).
Seniors were midfielder Kathy Chatfield, defender Megan Johnson and forward Lexi Paas, who was third-team all-district and first-team all-league.
"We had a very strong group of seniors and their leadership on and off the field made a huge impact on our team," said coach Amy Williams, who completed her second season in her second stint with the program. "The girls were always positive and encouraging, and they kept the team's spirits up through some tough games.
"Two of the seniors, Lexi Paas and Megan Johnson, were ball girls of mine when they were younger, so it was very special to be their coach during their senior seasons. They are a great group of young women and all have bright, successful futures ahead."
Two offensive threats expected back are junior forward Haleigh Cook (second-team all-league) and junior midfielder Stephanie Karnes (honorable mention all-league).
Others expected to return include juniors Alexis Bachstetter (defender), Anna Brandon (midfielder/defense), Olivia Downing (defender), Autumn Jones (midfield) and Alexis Som (midfielder), sophomores Leyshka Soto (goalkeeper) and Dana White (midfield) and freshman Breana Smith (forward).
"This will be our third season together, so we have had time to work and grow together as a team," Williams said. "The girls work hard and are motivated to improve their offseason participation and work on our ball skills and footwork in the months ahead."