Experience and talent usually are two ingredients for success. At least that's what the Pickerington High School North boys soccer team is counting on.

Experience and talent usually are two ingredients for success. At least that's what the Pickerington High School North boys soccer team is counting on.

The Panthers return eight starters from last season. They finished 13-3-2 overall and 5-1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place second behind Gahanna (5-0-2) and ahead of Grove City (4-2-1), Pickerington Central (4-2-1), Reynoldsburg (2-1-4), Lancaster (2-4-1), Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-6-1).

North opened the Division I district tournament with a 7-0 win over Independence in the second round before losing to Dublin Coffman 1-0 in a district semifinal.

"We have pretty high expectations," said coach Darrin Monhollen, whose team opened against Upper Arlington last Tuesday and plays today at Westerville South. "We have a lot of returning two-year letterwinners who will be working on their third, and we have a lot of strong players."

Leading the way for North will be senior forward/midfielder Keegan Ross, who was the team's leading scorer last season with 13 goals and two assists and made first-team all-district and all-league.

Other two-year letterwinners include seniors Jared Haggit (midfielder), Scott Hartley (midfielder), Nick Justus (defender/midfielder), Zack Justus (forward), Pat Lynch (midfielder) and Blake Monge (defender).

Other returnees are seniors Sean O'Neill (stopper), Moses Stephens (forward) and Drew Whitcomb (defender) and junior Tony Boerio (midfielder). O'Neill was second-team all-league and Boerio had nine goals and four assists.

Rounding out the team are juniors Colin Beemiller (goalie), Colin Combs (defender/midfielder), Tyler Swanson (defender) and Jake Wickline (defender) and sophomore Zach Monhollen (forward), the coach's son.

Beemiller replaces graduate Anthony Evans, who was a two-year starter.

"We have had some injury problems from club soccer with Keegan nursing a broken bone in his foot and Tony has had some ankle problems," coach Monhollen said. "They are getting better, but it also has given some opportunities to younger players in the preseason to get valuable experience.

"We're looking forward to the season because we return a great deal of experience. It's a rarity to have so many two-year letterwinners and we think that will be a good opportunity for the kids. They have the willingness to work hard and that's always a good thing."

North opens OCC-Ohio play Tuesday at home against Groveport. Grove City is not in the league this season because of the South-Western City Schools' levy failure Aug. 4.

ēThe girls team returns six starters from last season. The Panthers when it finished 12-7 overall and won its sixth consecutive OCC-Ohio championship.

North went 6-1 in the league, finishing ahead of Gahanna (5-1-1), Grove City (5-1-1), Reynoldsburg (4-2-1), Pickerington Central (3-3-1), Lancaster (2-5), Newark (1-6) and Groveport (0-7).

The Panthers defeated Hamilton Township 11-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament last year and beat Thomas Worthington 4-0 in the second round before losing to fourth-seeded Watterson 2-0 in a district semifinal.

The returning starters are seniors Abby Fannin (midfielder), Nadja Kolliesuah (forward), Morgan Hendrickson (midfielder) and Ali Prestifillippo (forward) and juniors Allyson Baldwin (goalie) and Shelby Olszewski (midfielder). Also back are senior Becca Russell (defender) and junior Zena Kolliesuah (midfielder).

"We have a lot of girls back and they are jelling well right now," said coach Greg Van Kannel, whose team opens today at home against Westerville South. "We're also pretty deep bench-wise, so we don't miss a beat when we make substitutions."

Other returning letterwinners are senior Andrea Castle (midfielder), junior Kimmy Bentley (forward) and sophomore Becca Glenn, who moves from the midfield to defender.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Bry Ducey (defender), Sara Kageorge (midfielder) and Courtney Potts (midfielder/forward), juniors Shelby Lozan (defender) and Crisa Thatcher (forward), sophomore Ashley Luckasko (defender) and freshmen Ashlynn Jones (forward) and Heather Laeufer (goalie).

"We have a lot of speed and we want to use the whole field to take advantage of that speed," Van Kannel said. "We don't have a superstar, so it's tough for defenses to key on one player. We're equal and it just depends on whose night it is. That will probably be different in each game."

Laeufer expects to split playing time with Baldwin.

(Baldwin and Laeufer) both have done good things in the preseason and both are deserving of playing time," Van Kannel said. "We've split their time during games at the beginning of the season and see how it plays out."

The Panthers play host to Medina on Saturday before opening OCC-Ohio play Tuesday at Groveport.

Schedules

BOYS

Aug. 25  -- vs. Upper Arlington 

Aug. 27  -- at Westerville South  

*Sept. 1 -- vs. Groveport  

Sept. 3 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty  

*Sept. 8 -- at Pickerington Central

Sept. 10 -- at Watkins Memorial 

*Sept. 15 -- at Reynoldsburg

Sept. 17 -- vs. Watterson 

*Sept. 22 -- vs. Gahanna 

Sept. 26 -- at Northland

*Sept. 29 -- vs. Lancaster 

Oct. 1 -- vs. Delaware 

*Oct. 6 -- at Newark 

Oct. 10 -- vs. Logan

Oct. 13 -- vs. Big Walnut  

Oct. 15 -- at Thomas Worthington 

GIRLS

Aug. 27 -- vs. Westerville South    

Aug. 29 -- vs. Medina    

*Sept. 1 -- at Groveport   

Sept. 3 -- at Westerville Central 

*Sept. 8 -- vs. Pickerington Central

Sept. 12 -- at Ashland 

*Sept. 15 -- vs. Reynoldsburg

Sept. 17 -- at DeSales

*Sept. 22 -- at Gahanna 

Sept. 24 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson 

*Sept. 29 -- at Lancaster 

Oct. 1 -- at Dublin Coffman

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Newark 

Oct. 8 -- vs. Upper Arlington 

Oct. 13 -- at Big Walnut 

Oct. 15 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne 

*OCC-Ohio game