In a sports world typically dominated by statistics and numbers, soccer always has remained a bit of an outcast. That might be a good thing for the Reynoldsburg High School boys soccer team.

In a sports world typically dominated by statistics and numbers, soccer always has remained a bit of an outcast. That might be a good thing for the Reynoldsburg High School boys soccer team.

Led by 13 seniors, the Raiders finished 8-4-7 overall last season and posted two wins in the Division I district tournament. But the numbers for the 2009 season don't look quite as promising.

Reynoldsburg has just five seniors on a roster that totals 26 players for both varsity and junior varsity. To make matters worse, three of those players will enter the season injured, including promising freshman Alec Everett, who broke a bone in his ankle and will be out 4-6 weeks.

But if any of that bothers coach Carlos Bonilla, he's keeping it close to the vest.

"Every year, we have the same goals," he said. "We want to have a winning season, which allows us to get a good place in the seedings and pairings. We always want to win the OCC, try to make it to district finals and see what happens from there. Every year the goals are the same for any group I have."

The overall roster numbers are down because of a hefty hike to the pay-to-participate fee that Reynoldsburg was forced to enact after the school district's 15.6-mill operating levy failed last May. Last season the fee to play soccer was $30; this season it is $500.

"We've been lucky enough to find 26 families willing to sacrifice for the kids to let them play soccer," Bonilla said. "We're just trying to give everybody a chance."

This year's seniors are goalkeeper Jason Walken, midfielders Ryan Mack and Michael Mullins and defender Ray Bring. Among the young players being counted on are sophomore forwards Trevor Flowers and Troy Marshall.

"The seniors will be very key to our success," Bonilla said. "We're a young team, and with our numbers being down like they are, that's going to mean we have a lot of growing up to do in a hurry. We also have very demanding schedule, and that doesn't make it any easier."

Reynoldsburg opened the district tournament with a 2-1 win over Westerville North and defeated Delaware 2-1 in the second round before falling to Marysville 3-2 in overtime in a district semifinal.

Also last year, the Raiders went 2-1-4 in the OCC-Ohio to place fifth behind Gahanna (5-0-2), Pickerington North (5-1-1), Grove City (4-2-1) and Pickerington Central (4-2-1) and ahead of Lancaster (2-4-1), Groveport (1-6) and Newark (0-6-1).

Grove City is not fielding athletic teams this season because the South-Western City Schools' levy failed earlier this month.

Among the non-league opponents on the Raiders' schedule are Dublin Coffman, Westerville South and Kettering Fairmont.

"That's a really loaded schedule," Bonilla said. "It's going to make us stronger in the long run. We're going to have to deal with some adversity."

ēDespite losing nine players to graduation, first-year girls coach Johnny Ulry doesn't believe that his team is facing a rebuilding season.

Reynoldsburg finished 12-4-3 last year, marking its first winning season since 2003 when it went 14-4 to set the program record for victories in a season and captured its only OCC championship. It shared the OCC-Central title that season with Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.

The Raiders went 4-2-1 in the OCC-Ohio last year to place fourth behind Pickerington North (6-1), Gahanna (5-1-1) and Grove City (5-1-1) and ahead of Pickerington Central (3-3-1), Lancaster (2-5), Newark (1-6) and Groveport (0-7).

Seeded 11th, Reynoldsburg defeated Olentangy 1-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament and beat Big Walnut 1-0 in the second round before losing to top-seeded Upper Arlington 2-0 in a district semifinal.

Ulry, a 2004 Westerville North graduate who spent the last four seasons as a varsity assistant and coach of the junior varsity B team at his alma mater, was hired last month to replace Mark Wise, who stepped down earlier this summer to become the coach at Upper Arlington. Wise compiled a 63-68-10 record in eight seasons with the Raiders.

"Things are going extremely well, a lot better than I thought they would be at this point," Ulry said. "We want to win the OCC championship, then a district title, and then the regional title. With some good luck and some good graces, we can achieve that.

"Last season was really good, but over their history Reynoldsburg hasn't always had a lot of consistency. The biggest thing is we want to make the program more consistent with some of the things we're instituting, and the girls have responded to that."

Among the top returnees are seniors Taylor Jennings-Sargent (forward), Kelsea Corns (goalie), Brittany Berry (midfielder) and Caroline Boone (defender). Jennings-Sargent led the team with 18 goals last year.

"The underclassmen have stepped up, and the seniors have stepped up and taken a leadership role," Ulry said. "It's been exciting to watch and it's a great thing to have."

Schedules

BOYS

Sept. 1 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 3 -- vs. Westerville South

Sept. 8 -- vs. Newark

Sept. 10 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Sept. 12 -- at Westerville North

*Sept. 15 -- vs. Pickerington North

Sept. 17 -- at Hilliard Darby

*Sept. 22 -- at Lancaster

*Sept. 24 -- vs. Watkins Memorial

Sept. 26 -- at Kettering Fairmont

*Sept. 29 -- vs. Groveport

Oct. 1 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Gahanna

Oct. 8 -- vs. St. Charles

*Oct. 13 -- at Pickerington Central

Oct. 15 -- at Hilliard Davidson

GIRLS

Aug. 25 -- vs. CSG

Aug. 29 -- vs. Ready

Sept. 5 -- at Athens

*Sept. 8 -- at Newark

Sept. 12 -- vs. Hartley

*Sept. 15 -- at Pickerington North

*Sept. 22 -- vs. Lancaster

Sept. 26 -- vs. Marietta

*Sept. 29 -- vs. Groveport

Oct. 3 -- vs. Marysville

*Oct. 6 -- at Gahanna

Oct. 8 -- at Delaware

Oct. 10 -- at Wayne

*Oct. 13 -- vs. Pickerington Central

Oct. 15 -- at Watkins Memorial

*OCC-Ohio