If it can continue the progression it has made over the past two seasons, the Reynoldsburg High School girls soccer team could be in for a memorable finish this fall.
After winning just two games in 2010 and six in 2011, the Raiders improved to 9-6-2 overall and 3-3-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division last fall behind champion Pickerington North (7-0).
Reynoldsburg, which has a new coach in Tim Mathias, returns a senior-laden lineup.
Mathias was the junior varsity coach the last two seasons under Dana Ortman, who stepped down after his third season.
"I was the j.v. and assistant coach the last two years and I think everybody was pretty excited when (I was hired)," Mathias said. "This is the senior season for about half of the girls, so I just told the girls what I wanted them to do in the offseason and they did it. We've got about 45 out, so this is the biggest team in program history."
Most of Reynoldsburg's 10 seniors were key players a year ago.
Senior Katie Broehm (10 goals, 8 assists) made first-team all-league last season and is back to lead the midfield. She should be joined there by senior Allison Blackburn, juniors C.J. Rock, Paige Van Horn and Emily Vogelgesang and sophomores Cheyenne Fraley, Ceri Goff and Allison McKenzie.
Senior forward Alex Thorn made honorable mention all-league last season and was the Raiders' leading scorer with 14 goals and three assists. Others at forward are senior Nickie Thatcher, junior Asmara Abraham and freshman Molly Van Horn.
Senior Catherine Gundelfinger was special mention all-league and is back for her third season at goalkeeper.
Senior Kelsey Johnson will lead the defense after making second-team all-league last season. Also at defender are seniors Rachel Hodnett, Isela Kirk, Aimee Ortega and Rachel Streib and sophomores Emma Fuentes and Asja Soza.
"We've got a big corps coming back and a lot of teams lost a lot," said Mathias, whose team opened Aug. 20 against Hartley. "Our expectations are to finish higher than we did last year."
Boys soccer team also has new coach
After losing 11 players to graduation and getting a new coach in the offseason, the boys soccer team will be leaning on a 10-member senior class to help with the transition.
Thomie Timmons is the new coach. His son, Joe Timmons, is a 2013 graduate who played for the Raiders last season.
Timmons replaces Justin Lewis, who went 24-25-8 in three seasons. In 2011, Lewis guided the Raiders to their first district title since 1985.
Timmons is a teacher at Reynoldsburg and is a head coach for the first time since he led the Raiders' program in 1996 and 1997.
Reynoldsburg, which finished 6-10-2 overall a year ago, lost to Westerville Central 4-1 in its opener Aug. 17.
"I have a much larger coaching staff than they've had the last couple years," Timmons said.
"We've got 17 freshmen, so that's a really large class, and we've picked up quite a few players."
Back to lead the way are seniors Nahom Abayneh (defender), Nha Doan (forward), Isaac Kolevski (midfielder) and Antonio Nocevski (forward) and junior John Wallake (goalkeeper).
Expected to join Doan and Nocevski at forward are senior Tenie Akosile, junior Casey Peppers and sophomore Kasey Law.
Other midfielders are seniors C.J. Miller and Elliot Schoolcraft, juniors Nate Bryan and Nick Obednikovski and sophomores Henry Brenya, Caleb Holbrook, Cole Mathias and Victor Voskovski.
Abayneh will be joined at defender by seniors Michael Forchaleke and Ryan Campbell and junior Andy Timmons, another son of the coach.
Junior Alex Klecan is the backup goalkeeper.
Also looking to contribute is senior Michael Essilfie.
Coach Timmons plans to take advantage of the depth he believes he has throughout the program.
"There were a lot of kids in the past that would play the whole game," he said.
"Now I'm telling them, 'Give me all you can give me for 10 to 15 minutes.' Then they need to rest. I think we're getting a better team overall and more people can get involved. We have pretty good team chemistry, and I think that's important."