Emily Reincheld is excited to make her debut as girls lacrosse coach at Pickerington High School North.
A 2009 North graduate who served as goalkeeper coach for the Panthers from 2010-12, Reincheld wasn't able to coach last spring after being diagnosed with severe aplastic anemia in May 2012.
She received a bone marrow transplant March 14, 2013, and took over as North's head coach in the offseason.
"It's my dream job," said Reincheld, whose team opens Tuesday, April 1, against visiting Columbus School for Girls. "They liked my enthusiasm and it kind of snowballed from there. Things are looking great, and I could not be more excited."
Reincheld has taken over a program that has won three consecutive league championships, including the last two under Norm Deena, whose contract wasn't renewed after his second season.
The Panthers, who lost to Cincinnati St. Ursula 11-8 in the second round of the Division I South/Central Region tournament to finish 10-6-1 a year ago, have only two seniors.
The top returnees are senior midfielder Regan Hanood, junior midfielder Sarah Dan-kowski and junior defender Spencer Hess.
The other senior is Mary Donnelly, who could see time at attacker and defender.
Junior Krystie Yamamoto and freshman Jessica Pinkerton competed during the preseason at goalie.
Also expected to be at defender are junior Rebecca Mickelson, sophomore Audrey Lane and freshman Kennedy Fry.
Others midfielders are junior Madison Epperly and sophomores Mackenzie Barnes and Julia Robson.
Junior sisters Alexis Snare and Alison Snare and sophomore Alexandra Perrie are attackers.
Caroline Giardina, who was expected to be a key attacker, elected to graduate early and is not playing.
North lost Abbey Paulus (108 goals, 25 assists) and Korri Titus (32 goals) from a five-member 2013 senior class. Paulus is playing for Queens University in Charlotte, N.C.
The Panthers went 7-0 to win the OCC-Central Division last season but now compete in the OCC-Ohio with Gahanna, Pickerington Central, Westerville Central, Westerville North and Westerville South. Their league opener is April 3 against visiting South.
Last season, North beat Central 18-9.
"We're definitely a strong transition team down the field," Reincheld said. "We always need to strengthen our communication. If I can get the girls talking, I'm hoping for another OCC championship."
Central features more experience
After having just one senior a year ago, Central has four among a large group of returning letterwinners.
Because of the increased experience, the Tigers are hoping more wins follow after they went 10-7 overall a year ago and earned a runner-up finish in the OCC-Central at 6-1.
Central won five of six during one late-season stretch but lost its last three, including to Dublin Scioto 15-8 in the first round of the Division I South/Central Region tournament.
"It should be a good season," said third-year coach Christine Miller, whose team opened March 22 by beating Centerville 13-7 and begins OCC-Ohio play April 3 at Gahanna. "We're looking for a lot out of it and we have really high expectations. We should have a very talented, very athletic and high-performance team."
There are 13 new players in the program, including more than half a dozen freshmen, according to Miller.
The returning seniors are Ashley Adams (mid-fielder/attacker), Gabby Johnson (midfielder/attacker), Courtney Jones (defensive midfielder) and Kaeleigh Norvet (defender/midfielder). The other senior is Haley Schreck (defender).
Junior Nessa Petropavlov-skiy returns to lead the attackers. Also at the position are junior Carly Noel and sophomores Aubrey Cernus and Kat Walton.
Playing defender are junior Michelle Barnabei and sophomore Dymin Hagwood, while junior Kayalani Cloe is expected to start in goal.
Freshman midfielder Lauren Morris is another who could contribute.
"In the preseason, we showed up pretty well," Miller said. "We've got a great group of seniors that played club in the summer and also played over the winter. We should be strong on the defensive and offensive side, which gives us depth that we haven't had before."