District title remains focus for girls squad
Although the Columbus Academy girls soccer team lost several key players from a year ago to graduation, the program has a new standard to match.
The Vikings finished 17-2-1 last season, the best record in program history. They lost to Middletown Fenwick 6-2 in a Division III regional semifinal.
Academy won its first MSL-Ohio/Cardinal Division championship, sharing the title with Bexley and Granville at 7-1.
The Vikings also won their first district championship, defeating Ready 3-2 in the final. Top-seeded Academy, which had a first-round bye, defeated Tree of Life 9-2 in the second round and Johnstown 7-0 in a semifinal.
Third-year coach Kelly Snead, whose team opens Saturday, Aug. 25, at Hartley, believes the Vikings have potential.
"I would definitely like to see us repeat as district champions," she said. "I would definitely like to see that."
The Vikings begin defense of their league title at home against Heath on Aug. 30.
Junior midfielder Kat Weikert, who had 13 goals and 19 assists last season, has been asked to help lead the way after being a first-team all-league and third-team all-district selection.
"Kat is definitely our playmaker in the middle," Snead said.
Also back are senior defenders Emily Carlin and Melanie Knopp, who will share captain duties with Weikert.
Other key returnees are junior defender Margaret Sutton and sophomore midfielder Jenna Berlet, who were second-team all-league, and sophomore midfielder Annie Meacham, who was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Maria Mullin and freshman Neve Adler are competing for the starting goalkeeper position in place of 2012 graduate Maggie McGuire, who was second-team all-league last season with 114 saves.
Other players are senior Aziza Corbett (defender), juniors Caitlyn Halsey (forward) and Annie Mampieri, sophomores Kelly Brown (midfielder), Ella Ransom (defender), Riley Ransom (midfielder) and Julia Rizk (forward) and freshmen Brianna Abell (forward), Savannah Cofer (midfielder), Miriam Knopp (midfielder), Christina Lee (forward), Nida Pervez (midfielder), Lily Rizk (forward), Louise Rosler (midfielder) and Metty Schroeder (midfielder).
The biggest loss to graduation was Erin Simmons, who had 38 goals and 26 assists last fall and was named Player of the Year in the league and district. Simmons now is a freshman forward at Marshall University.
Other key losses were Logan Berlet (10 goals, 23 assists; first-team all-league and all-district) and Alisha Ho (20 goals, 10 assists; first-team all-league).
Last season in the league, Academy, Bexley and Granville finished ahead of Grandview (4-3-1), Fisher Catholic (3-3-2), Lakewood (3-5), Heath (1-6-1), Liberty Union (2-5) and West Jefferson (0-7). The game between Liberty Union and West Jefferson wasn't played.
Snead expects her team to contend for the league title, but she said the Vikings have bigger goals.
"In the grand scheme of things it's nice to win the league, but the tournament means more to me because Bexley and Granville are Division II schools, so we never see them again," Snead said. "The league is nice and it's kind of the icing on the cake, but to me to win district means more."
Boys soccer team pursuing another title
The boys soccer team begins defense of its back-to-back MSL-Ohio titles when it visits Licking Valley on Sept. 6.
The Vikings opened against DeSales on Aug. 21.
"It's hard to know," coach Ron Leach said of his team's chances to repeat as league champion. "We lost a lot of seniors. We were very senior-laden last year, some really quality players. But the boys we have out there know what needs to be done, so we're going to look for them to be able to develop, be patient with each other, get ready and, hopefully, we're in contention."
Last season, Academy finished 13-4-2 overall after losing to Grandview 1-0 in a Division III district final.
The Vikings, who had a first-round bye, defeated Village Academy 2-0 in the second round and Fisher Catholic 2-0 in a semifinal.
Key players back are senior John Long (defender/midfielder) and junior Jack Lint (midfielder), who were second-team all-league, and seniors Dominic Facciolla (midfielder) and Thomas Nolan (goalie), who were third-team all-league.
Also back are senior Johnston Allinder (defender), juniors Gavin Rackoff (defender) and Jake Tuckerman (forward) and sophomore Marcel Knopp (defender).
Seniors Grant Hansell (defender), Kevin Spence (midfielder) and Alec Wuorinen (midfielder), juniors Daniel Kennedy (midfielder), Gavin Koerner (forward), Tyler Kohman (defender/goalie) and Zach Shepelak (midfielder) and sophomore Tim Leathery (midfielder) played on junior varsity last season.
"We have a lot of new boys on the team," said Leach, who is in his eighth season. "It's going to depend on them being able to play at the same pace. They need to play at varsity pace. Players individually have to realize their team goals on the club and be able to work together as one unit. Hopefully, that will take place."
The Vikings lost several key players from last year to graduation, including Tim Eldridge (17 goals), who was first-team all-league and all-district, and Roshun Sankaran and Matt Tamarkin (18 goals), who were first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Last season in the league, Academy (6-0) finished ahead of Bexley (4-1-1), Granville (4-1-1), Heath (3-3), Whitehall (2-4), Lakewood (1-5) and Licking Valley (0-6) for its third league title.
Football team to open on road
The football team opens Friday, Aug. 24, at Zanesville Maysville.
The teams met for the first time last season, with the Vikings winning the opener 49-27 at home.
Academy, a Division V program, began the season 4-1 but lost four of its final five to finish 5-5. Maysville began the season 4-2 but lost three of its final four to finish 5-5.
The Panthers, a Division III program, compete in the Muskingum Valley League. Last season, Maysville and New Lexington tied for fourth (4-3) behind co-champions Dresden Tri-Valley and Thornville Sheridan (both 6-1).
"On the road, they are capable of beating us if we beat ourselves," coach Jim Collis said. "They have a good system in place much like what we are doing on both sides of the ball. They are playing harder and running to the ball better than a year ago. We can't commit first-game mistakes. We have to take care of the ball, win the turnover ratio, play solid defense and execute offensively. I think our guys will be ready to play. We have done well in our two scrimmages and are working on cleaning up a lot of things on both sides of the ball."