Few, if any high school girls soccer teams in central Ohio, have been more successful than Hilliard Davidson over the past several years.

Few, if any high school girls soccer teams in central Ohio, have been more successful than Hilliard Davidson over the past several years.

Davidson has reached at least a Division I district final in each of the past four seasons, and it has reached a regional final the past two seasons.

Because of the tradition the Wildcats have established, they can approach a season like this one, when they have a relatively inexperienced team, without lowering their expectations.

'Our goal is always to win a state championship, so that still stays our goal," coach Joe Divida said. "They're young. They're a little bit less experienced than what we usually have, but at the same time, they've kind of inherited quite a bit of tradition, and a lot of them helped build that tradition."

The Wildcats do have some players with significant varsity experience to lead the way. Still, it will take some time before they find their identity the way previous teams have.

They open the season Tuesday at home against Delaware.

"This year, this group will find its own niche," Divida said. "There will be something that will make them special and allow them to win games, and win close games."

Last season, Davidson finished 16-2-3 overall. The Wildcats advanced to a regional final before losing to Upper Arlington 1-0.

Davidson won the OCC-Central Division title at 5-0-2, finishing ahead of UA (5-1-1), Worthington Kilbourne (4-0-3), Dublin Coffman (3-1-3), Darby (2-3-2), Thomas Worthington (2-5), Central Crossing (1-5-1) and Westland (0-7). For all the recent success, it was the program's first league title.

Central Crossing and Westland will not field teams this year.

Experienced players are spread throughout the field for the Wildcats. Offensively, senior Jamie Caton leads the forwards after starting much of last season, and junior forward Katie Holland is back as well. Also expected to contribute at forward are junior Olivia Pabisinski, sophomores Courtney Hall and Monica Lince and freshman Lauren Bates.

In the midfield, seniors Jessica Baran and Alyssa DePaola and junior Kaitlyn Reynolds are all expected to be key contributors. DePaola is in her fourth year as a starter, and Reynolds started last season. Also seeing action in the midfield will be Holland, Bates, juniors Mallory Sodders and Stephanie Varn and sophomore Kelly Grinter.

Defensively, senior Heather Coonfare and junior Tessa Kilgore both return after starting last season. Lince, DePaola, Coonfare, Reynolds, Sodders and junior Ashley Weethee all could see action on defense.

•After a year of dealing with the pressure of following up a state championship, the boys team is looking much more comfortable as it heads into this season, according to coach Terry Smith.

"Our goal is to get (to the state title game) and to win it," Smith said. "But the minor goals and the small goals that help you get to the state championship are the ones that we have to focus on more season-to-season, game-to game, year-to-year. I think that's a change that the kids have seen this year: setting goals that are beneficial for this group, not last year's group."

The Wildcats also have a much more experienced team than they had last season, including several veterans who played on the 2007 championship team as well as plenty of other players who got their first taste of varsity action last year. Smith said he's been happy with the leadership he's seen from the sizeable senior class.

"The experience of them being through this process, the seniors who were part of that state championship run and were actually on the field, thats really, really a big experience for everybody," Smith said. "And also, the disappointment of how they finished last year. That taste that they had in their mouth isn't something they want to have again."

Last season, Davidson finished 11-5-3 overall and went down to Upper Arlington 2-0 in a Division I district final. The Wildcats took fourth in the OCC-Central at 3-2-2, behind Worthington Kilbourne (7-0), Upper Arlington (5-1-1) and Dublin Coffman (4-2-1) and ahead of Darby (2-3-2), Central Crossing (1-6) and Westland (0-7). Central Crossing and Westland will not field teams this year.

The Wildcats' defense should be particularly strong this season. Senior Adam Black returns for his third year on varsity and his second as the starter. And seniors defenders Jimmy Caudill, Ryan Osselborn and Luke Pugno are all in their third year on varsity. Caudill started on defense the past two seasons, and Osselborn has started in the midfield for two seasons before moving to defense this year.

Also expected to see action on defense are seniors Nate Hardin and Matt Sonick and sophomore Ethan Heisler. Senior Evan Robinson and junior Jacob Costin will back up Black at goalie.

The midfield should be solid as well, led by seniors Duncan Campbell and Brent Harmanis and juniors Tyler Schoener and J.D. Detmer. All four are in their third season on varsity, and Campbell is a two-year starter. Seniors Andy Grinter and Drew Haas, junior Derek Cox, sophomore Chris Martin and freshman Alex Bumpus are also expected to contribute.

At forward, the Wildcats use a combination of senior Michael Stephens and juniors Cory Yant and Tommy Mesewicz.


Schedules

BOYS

Aug. 27 -- vs. DeSales Aug. 29 -- vs. Bellbrook Sept. 1 -- at Delaware Sept. 5 -- at Marysville Sept. 8 -- vs. Thomas Worthington Sept. 12 -- vs. Worthington Christian Sept. 15 -- vs. Lancaster Sept. 19 -- at Sidney Sept. 22 -- at Worthington Kilbourne Sept. 26 -- at Bexley Sept. 29 -- vs. Dublin Coffman Oct. 3 -- at Dublin Jerome Oct. 6 -- vs. Upper Arlington Oct. 13 -- at Darby Oct. 15 -- vs. Reynoldsburg Oct. 17 -- vs. Westerville South

GIRLS

Sept. 1 -- vs. Delaware Sept. 3 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty Sept. 5 -- at Lexington Sept. 8 -- at Thomas Worthington Sept. 10 -- vs. Westerville North Sept. 12 -- at Gahanna Sept. 15 -- at Lancaster Sept. 17 -- vs. Westerville Central Sept. 19 -- at Xenia Sept. 22 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne Sept. 24 -- at Pickerington North Sept. 26 -- vs. Beavercreek Sept. 29 -- at Dublin Coffman Oct. 6 -- at Upper Arlington Oct. 8 -- vs. DeSales Oct. 13 -- vs. Darby