For several reasons, New Albany High School girls soccer coach Chad Schuler has enough trust in this year's team to make some considerable changes.
Schuler has installed a quicker offense in the hopes of maximizing his players' abilities. The Eagles return their top scorer in senior midfielder Megan Glass as well as senior goalkeeper Ashton Shearer, among others, from last year's team that went 9-9 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Capital Division.
"We're going to move the ball around a lot quicker," said Schuler, who is in his fifth season. "We only lost five girls from last year, and with the maturity and skills they bring back, I think this is the way to get the most out of them. I think this style will suit us better than we played the past three years."
Glass, a first-team all-league and all-district honoree, had a team-high 14 goals in 2013. Other prominent returnees include senior midfielder Sam Damante (second-team all-league), junior defender Kiki Kawari (special mention all-league) and sophomore forward Emily Sayre (honorable mention all-league).
New Albany opened Aug. 16 with a 2-all tie against Hilliard Bradley. Sophomore midfielder Nicky Costantino and Damante scored, and Shearer made four saves.
Schuler said he has several options for replacing the 11 goals lost to graduation with first-team all-league and third-team all-district forward Vanessa Eastwood.
"I think Sam will score 10 goals. Megan should be good for at least 10," Schuler said. "(Kawari) will need to score. The nice thing is in our (preseason) games, we've had goals from a lot of different girls. It takes the pressure off Megan. All that, and we didn't have one practice with everyone out for quite a while. Hopefully our opponents won't have an easy time if they're able to take Megan out of the game."
Shearer is the program's only goalie, but Schuler said he is working with a few underclassmen to become backups this year and starters once Shearer graduates.
The rest of the roster consists of senior defender Kyra Zuiderwig, senior midfielders Elli Lavon and Allison Wenner, junior defender Chloe Sekulovski, junior forwards Jordan Burdick and Haley Lyles, junior midfielder Kiana Khorrami, sophomore defenders Nicole Donahue and Cara Dovell, sophomore forward Brooke Isabel, sophomore midfielders Amy Brand and Elaine Susi, freshman defender Maria Miller and freshman midfielder Mary Elizabeth Schuppenhauer.
The Eagles won OCC-Capital championships in 2010 and 2012, and finished second in 2011 and 2013. Last year, New Albany tied Worthington Kilbourne for second behind Olentangy Orange (6-0).
New Albany's league opener is Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Orange.
"It's a tough start for us," Schuler said. "We start with four games in seven days, and with Orange it'll be five games in 11 days. We'll need to get in the winning habit pretty early."
Boys soccer team looking to grow
Results on the scoreboard are taking a back seat to daily improvement as the boys soccer team seeks to replace the 11 players lost to graduation from last year's OCC-Capital champion and Division I district runner-up squad.
Of the 43 goals New Albany scored last year as it went 14-2-3 overall and 6-0-1 in the league, only three were scored by returning players in senior midfielders Ethan Billisits and Shaan Diwanji and junior midfielder/defender Brian Woo.
"Last year, we went on an unbelievable run. Will this team be able to do that again in my lifetime? Let's hope. But this year, probably not," fifth-year coach Ben Arthurs said, noting the Eagles' only two losses came in their season opener and the district final, both against Bradley. "I am willing to go 8-8 this season to prepare these guys for the tournament. I am excited. The future is bright for the program."
New Albany opened with a 2-1 loss at Bradley on Aug. 16. Junior midfielder/defender Cameron Campbell scored, and junior goalie Will Somers made six saves.
Somers is succeeding second-team all-state honoree Anthony Flowers in goal. Flowers now plays at Wright State.
The starting lineup consisted of Billisits, Campbell, Diwanji, Somers, Woo, senior defender Karl Peterhaensel, junior midfielder/defender Colin McCullough, sophomore midfielder/defenders Amit Greenshtein, Remy Rodney and Logan Wiest and freshman defender Ian Campbell.
"(We will have) dramatically different formations," Arthurs said. "We played three in the back last year and honestly, I have 15, 16 midfielders on this team. We need to create defense for this season and the future. Guys are responding well. We need role players."
The rest of the roster consists of senior defender Jackson Beckman, senior midfielder Matt Gordon, senior for-ward/midfielder Joseph Tannenbaum, junior midfielder/def-enders Hunter Cohn, Jared Gerlacher and Colin Ryan, junior forward/midfielder Zach Judis, sophomore midfielder/defenders Jared Daly and Nick Iavino and sophomore goalies Ben Hudson and Andrew McCarthy.
Aug. 16 -- at Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 19 -- vs. Bexley
Aug. 21 -- at Westerville South
Aug. 23 -- vs. Watkins Memorial
*Aug. 26 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Franklin Heights
*Sept. 9 -- at Delaware
Sept. 11 -- vs. Grove City
Sept. 13 -- at Pickerington North
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Olentangy
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 25 -- at Westerville Central
*Sept. 30 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Oct. 4 -- at Gahanna
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Mount Vernon
Oct. 9 -- vs. Westerville North
Aug. 16 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 19 -- at Upper Arlington
Aug. 21 -- vs. Westerville South
Aug. 23 -- at Watkins Memorial
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 6 -- at Gahanna
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Delaware
Sept. 11 -- at Grove City
Sept. 13 -- at Pickerington North
*Sept. 16 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 20 -- at Bexley
*Sept. 23 -- at Big Walnut
Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Oct. 7 -- at Mount Vernon
Oct. 11 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson