At least early in the season, the New Albany High School girls lacrosse team will bear little resemblance to the squad that won the Division II state championship last year.
Four all-Americans were among seven players lost to graduation, and fourth-year coach Dave Ferguson spent some of the preseason shuffling personnel following a season-ending knee injury to junior midfielder Maisey Bango.
Sophomore Liza Hernandez and senior Abby Manning, both of whom played pivotal roles as attackers on last year's team that went 15-4-1 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division, have moved to midfielder, leaving the attacking unit without much experience.
"We're testing a lot of girls early on," Ferguson said. "We have some girls who definitely need to step up and be leaders. We should be very competitive."
Hernandez, Manning and goalkeepers Grace Anthony and Kathleen Schell are New Albany's returning starters entering its opener April 5 against visiting DeSales. The Eagles now are in the OCC-Capital, and their league opener is April 10 at home against Olentangy Orange.
New Albany also will not get a chance to defend its title, as it moved up to Division I.
The biggest hole for the Eagles is replacing the 173 goals lost to graduation with Elaina Enich (87 goals, 6 assists), Morgan Fee (52, 34) and Katie Hernandez (34, 57). Enich and Fee, who now play for Cincinnati and Ohio State, respectively, were first-team all-state and first-team All-American.
Hernandez was second-team all-state and academic All-American, and 2013 graduate Morgan Breen, an attacker, was academic All-American.
"We could read each other so well," said Manning, who scored the winning goal in the state final last year as New Albany defeated then-league foe Worthington Kilbourne 11-10. "That will be hard to replace, but it's not irreplaceable."
Other midfielders are sophomores Hannah Karzmer and Sophia Young and freshmen Molly Berend, Deryn Murphy, Gracie Pine, Amanda Schockman and Elaine Susi.
"We're trying different people at the midfield," said Liza Hernandez, a starter last year who has verbally committed to Ohio State. "I think we'll be fine."
Attackers are junior Emily Manning, sophomores Megan Breen, Chaney Clapham and Alyssa Edwards and freshmen Abby Burgdoerfer and Addie Hamilton.
Defenders are seniors Lakyn Goff and Kaylia White, juniors Francesca White, Anna Wolfe and Gabi Zappitelli, sophomores Madison Pine, Mary-Jane Rogers and Caitlin Smith and freshman Emily Leathermen.
Ferguson did not name a favorite to start in goal between Schell, a junior, and Anthony, a sophomore.
"They're interchangeable," Ferguson said. "It depends on who is ready (and) who is playing well. They've come so far compared to what they were last year."
New Albany, which finished second in the OCC-Buckeye last year behind eventual Division I state champion Upper Arlington (5-0), is in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Delaware, Olentangy and Orange.
Veteran boys team overcoming injuries
Considering the boys lacrosse team returns all of its attackers and second-team all-state goalie Doug Collins from last year's Division II Central Region runner-up team, third-year coach Chris Brown was pleased at the Eagles' progression before their March 26 opener against Thomas Worthington.
"Things have looked much better than I expected. The guys are picking up things a lot quicker," said Brown, whose team was 10-11 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Ohio last year. "The ball movement has been a lot better. But there's still a lot to find out."
Junior attacker Ryan Dunn is expected to lead the offense after recording team highs of 50 goals and 13 assists last year. Junior Garrett Greco, who has moved to midfielder from attacker, added 20 goals and three assists. Collins, a senior who saved 202 of 348 shots (58 percent) last year and was first-team all-region, is expected to miss the first few weeks of the season with a broken right hand.
Dunn and Greco were second-team all-region a year ago.
Brown hopes two other season-ending injuries are not too detrimental. Junior midfielder Christo Semertsidis tore a knee ligament in football, and junior midfielder Jack Burgdoerfer still is recovering from concussions sustained during football season.
"It's definitely left some holes in the midfield, and hopefully it gives other people the opportunity to step up," Brown said.
Other attackers are returning starters Cooper Pewitt, a junior, and Sam Reader, a senior, along with juniors Noah Berks and Patrick Curley and sophomore Ryan Pursh.
The rest of the midfielders are seniors Grant Fortner and Jackson Kallner, juniors William Huff, Robby Serafin, Evan Schroeder and Mark Widman, sophomores Michael Brendle, Colin McCullough and Brandon Yoho and freshmen Noah Bressler and Andre White.
Defenders are seniors Drew Little and Trevor Lambert, juniors Anthony Carioti, Maxwell Linscott, James Parr and Nick Wolff and sophomores M.J. Jones and Nathan Oehler.
Junior Jackson Beckman is the backup goalie.
New Albany's league opener is Wednesday, April 2, at Gahanna. Dublin Scioto and Marysville have replaced last year's champion and runner-up, Olentangy (6-0) and Olentangy Liberty (5-1), in the OCC-Ohio.
March 26 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
March 29 -- at Bexley
*April 2 -- at Gahanna
April 4 -- vs. Pickerington Central
April 5 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 9 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
April 11 -- vs. Watterson
April 12 -- at Westerville Central
April 14 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
April 16 -- vs. Pickerington North
April 19 -- at Westerville North
*April 23 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*April 30 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
May 3 -- vs. Granville
*May 7 -- vs. Marysville
May 9 -- vs. Wellington
*May 14 -- at Olentangy Orange
May 15 -- at Hilliard Davidson
April 5 -- vs. DeSales
April 8 -- vs. Pickerington North
*April 10 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
April 12 -- Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington
April 15 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*April 17 -- at Big Walnut
April 19 -- at Mason
April 21 -- vs. Cincinnati Sycamore
April 22 -- at Columbus Academy
*April 24 -- vs. Delaware
April 26 -- vs. Massillon Jackson
April 26 -- vs. Medina
April 29 -- vs. Upper Arlington
*May 1 -- at Olentangy
May 3 -- at Okemos (Mich.)
May 4 -- Grand Rapids (Mich.) East Grand Rapids at Okemos (Mich.)
May 6 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
May 8 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne