Hilliard Davidson High School girls lacrosse coach Chad Smock is hoping to get his inexperienced team up to varsity speed as quickly as possible in his first season leading the program.
The Wildcats lost 11 players from last season to graduation, including their starting goalkeeper in Marie Austin, who was named honorable mention all-region. Last year, Davidson finished 8-9 overall, 1-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division and lost to Cincinnati Ursuline 13-8 in the second round of the Division I South/Central Region tournament.
The Wildcats open Wednesday, April 2, at home against Wellington.
"There is talent (on the team), but not a lot of experience," said Smock, who replaced Anne Bowen as coach after serving as an assistant coach the past two seasons. "We have completely changed the way we do things on offense and defense. That's exciting, but also it's a challenge with having a lot of things to implement in the short time we have before games begin."
Among the eight returnees for Davidson are senior midfielder Christine Kausel, who had a team-high 51 goals and 54 groundballs and made second-team all-region last year, and senior goalie Marisa Smock, who had a .484 save percentage a year ago.
The other returnees are seniors Lane Garrett (attacker), Tre'nique Kingston (defender) and Chelsea Miller (defender), junior Christina Harmon (defender) and sophomores Libby Calland (defender) and Olivia Starcher (attacker).
Also on the team are seniors Vanessa Antivero (attacker), Celeste Hicks (midfielder) and Sam Mirenda (attacker), juniors Asha Basha (attacker), Taylor Gehring (attacker) and Alaine Johnston (midfielder), sophomores Krina Desai (defender), Loryn Dave (defender), Jamie Kuder (midfielder), Selena LaBair (attacker) and Rachel Reinhart (attacker) and freshman Lauren Wehner (midfielder).
"I believe the diversity in our team is our strength," coach Smock said. "The girls are very different from each other but get along amazingly well. The team chemistry is amazing and makes it a very enjoyable coaching experience."
Davidson has moved to the OCC-Central with Dublin Coffman, Olentangy Liberty, Thomas Worthington and defending Division I state champion Upper Arlington. The league opener is April 3 at home against Coffman.
Increased numbers may boost Panthers
Darby is looking to improve on last season, when it finished 2-14 overall, 0-5 in the OCC-Buckeye and lost to Cincinnati St. Ursula 17-4 in the first round of the Division I South/Central Region tournament.
Among the returnees for the Panthers are junior midfielder Nycole Carter, who had 34 goals and 16 assists and made third-team all-league last year, and senior midfielder Kenzie VanCleef, who had 20 goals and 15 assists.
Other key returnees are senior defenders Kendell Klein and Danielle Wheeler and junior goalie Dillon Brown, who had 152 saves last season. Wheeler is expected to miss the early part of the season with an ankle injury.
"Kenzie VanCleef, Nycole Carter and (junior midfielder) Bri Rampi are strong on the offensive end and Dillon Brown is a two-year starter at goalie," said second-year coach Dennis Moore, whose team opens Tuesday, April 1, at Gahanna. "We have great team chemistry because we had a lot of girls in the weight room throughout the offseason, which helped us build a team bond."
Also on the team are seniors Maddie Harmon (attacker), Whitney Jaeb (defender), Ozzria Jagel (defender), Priya Mehra (attacker) and Pareesa Nabi (defender), junior Sarah Hassan (attacker), sophomores Karly Dearth (defender), Natalie Dixon (defender), Julie Green (attacker), Sarah Helenberger (attacker) and Jenna Wendell (defender) and freshmen Ashley Johnson (midfielder), Miranda Large (midfielder), Ashley Parker (midfielder), Michaela Roys (midfielder) and Tori Schmeling (defender/midfielder).
"Last year, we only had a varsity (team) and many of our sophomores got plenty of experience and have made huge gains in their ability to play lacrosse," Moore said. "This year, we have a j.v. team and those younger girls will get a better experience to learn the game as our numbers continue to grow."
Darby has moved to the OCC-Cardinal this season with Bradley, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Marysville and Worthington Kilbourne. The Panthers open league play April 3 at Kilbourne.
'Intense' Jaguars return 12 players
Fifth-year Bradley coach Becky Mottlow said her team has "lots of talent returning" from last season, when it finished 11-4 overall, placed second (5-1) in the OCC-Ohio behind Olentangy (6-0) and lost to Coffman 15-12 in the first round of the Division I South/Central Region tournament.
The Jaguars, who open April 3 at Marysville in an OCC-Cardinal game, have 12 returnees in seniors Tony Catalan (attacker), Malina Hay (attacker), Becca Hunter (defender) and Tieda Ven (attacker), juniors Abby Allen (defender), Alex Anton (midfielder), Hannah Kelley (attacker), Kyra Loughridge (attacker), Libby Rains (midfielder), Sarah Sprague (defender) and Morgan Wareham (goalie) and sophomore Grace Anton (midfielder).
"They are very intense and competitive and take the game very seriously during practice and games," Mottlow said of her players. "We accomplish a lot in practice because they are always giving 100 percent."
Also on the team are senior Kelly Kinser (attacker), juniors Jess Erben (defender), Jazmin Rodriguez (midfielder) and Brienne Walker (midfielder) and sophomores Emma Davis (goalie), Kristen Tucker (attacker) and Brianna Wheatley (defender).
"We always have to work on being a cohesive unit on the field to begin the season," Mottlow said.
"Some girls play shy at the beginning of the season, whether it's because they are either new to varsity or they don't yet have enough confidence in what they bring to the game and the team. That usually goes away once we start competing on a regular basis and the group develops their flow on the field."