New Albany High School boys soccer coach Ben Arthurs has an issue, and he doesn't necessarily want help.
Eleven returning seniors have Arthurs convinced the Eagles can improve on last year, when they won five of their final six games to finish 9-9 overall and tied for second in the OCC-Capital Division.
"This (senior) class has been exceptional and we have young guys who have blossomed," Arthurs said. "Above everything else, we have a ton of guys who are versatile. If we can jell and play our game, our best should be pretty good."
Four-year starting goalkeeper Anthony Flowers and defender Tristan Lyles lead the senior class that also includes defenders Frankie Boscarillo, Jacob Katz, Will Rogers, forwards Garrett Greco and Alex Zbinovec, midfielders Yuval Greenshtein and Zag Kawari and forward/midfielders Loren Albritton and Jorge Rosas.
While New Albany returns its top two scorers from last year in Zbinovec (7 goals) and Greco (6 goals), Arthurs had effusive praise of his goalie.
"I haven't come across a more experienced athlete than my keeper," Arthurs said of Flowers, whose three penalty-shot saves lifted the Eagles to a 1-0 victory over host Upper Arlington in the first round of the Division I district tournament last year. "He has the attitude, the work ethic, the athleticism and the all-around know-how to get things done. He's gotten bigger, better and stronger. Our expectations for him are pretty far up there."
Also on the team are junior midfielder/defenders Devin DeHaar and Shaan Diwaanji, junior utility player Matt Gordon, sophomore defenders Cameron Campbell, Jared Gerlacher and Brian Woo, sophomore goalie Will Somers and sophomore utility players Jack Driscoll and Zach Judis.
DeHaar is a transfer from Millersburg West Holmes.
The Eagles opened Aug. 17 with a 2-1 loss to Hilliard Bradley. They begin league play Tuesday, Aug. 27, at home against defending champion Olentangy Orange.
"I'm excited about the depth and versatility with all our guys," Arthurs said. "We might have 13 or 14 guys who obviously can start, but the next six or seven sure deserve to be on the field, too."
Girls soccer team returns six players
Despite losing seven players from a year ago to graduation, fourth-year girls soccer coach Chad Schuler thinks there are more certainties about his team this year than there were the past three seasons.
The Eagles, who finished 11-5-2 overall and won the OCC-Capital championship last year, have installed a new formation that Schuler hopes will help his team take advantage of the entire field when it has possession.
New Albany opened Aug. 17 with a 2-0 loss at Bradley and begins defense of its league title Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Orange.
"We just want to utilize the width (of the field) this year and (increase) the combination play between our top girls," Schuler said. "This year, more than any, I feel we're going to have girls in really set positions. The last couple years, we've moved girls around a lot and we're not going to do that. They're going to play one or two positions unless we have a ton of injuries, so that's going to help them learn the girls around them a little bit better. That's going to be a strength."
New Albany has six returnees in seniors Danielle Dixson (midfielder), Vanessa Eastwood (forward) and Kelci Winters (defender) and juniors Megan Glass (midfielder), Ashton Shearer (goalie) and Kyra Zuiderwig (defender).
Eastwood had four goals last year and Dixson and Glass each scored three.
Dixson, Glass and Winters all were named second-team all-league a year ago and Zuiderwig was honorable mention all-league to help lead a defense that recorded 10 shutouts.
"We're not losing everything (to the point) where we have to totally go from scratch and take a bunch of (junior varsity) players up who have never played at the varsity level with this intensity," Schuler said. "The young girls coming in all realize if they have the talent and they have the work ethic, they have a chance to make varsity. But the talent has to be there."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Jessica Brand (defender) and Kaylynn Cline (forward), juniors Sam Damante (midfielder), Ellie Lavon (forward), Julia Rothstein (midfielder) and Alison Wenner (defender), sophomores Kiana Kawari (defen-der), Kiana Khorrami (defender) and Chloe Sekulovski (defender) and freshmen Amy Brand (def-ender), Nikki Constantino (midfielder), Emily Sayre (forward) and Elaine Susi (midfielder).