By the time the Worthington Christian High School boys soccer team won the 2009 Division III state championship, Brett Elder had emerged as one of the state's premier go-to players.

By the time the Worthington Christian High School boys soccer team won the 2009 Division III state championship, Brett Elder had emerged as one of the state's premier go-to players.

Of the 77 goals the Warriors scored that season, 34 came from Elder despite him being just a sophomore.

His dominance in putting the ball into the back of the net continued last year, when he had 33 of the 71 goals that Worthington Christian scored on the way to a state runner-up finish.

The only returning member of the ThisWeek Super 12 boys team from a year ago, the 5-foot-8 Elder undoubtedly will be the focus of opposing defenses again this season.

The biggest challenge for Elder, according to Warriors coach Dan Roads, is getting his teammates involved with the offense as much as possible.

"He was the district Player of the Year last year, and was all-state and all-region," Roads said. "He's got a target on his back with people wanting to see what he can do. We've got high hopes for him this year."

While Elder is central Ohio's most prolific returning scorer, Dublin Scioto senior Ryan Gibson and Thomas Worthington junior Roscoe Blackburn are among a group of returning forwards also expecting to make their mark this season.

Gibson made first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division last season when he finished with 14 goals and seven assists. He also earned Super 12 honorable mention status for a team that won just five games.

Blackburn scored 14 goals and added five assists last season as Thomas won the OCC-Central for its first league title since 2007 and captured its first Division I district title since 2004.

Other boys who could shine at forward include seniors Matt Cameron (Olentangy), Gavin Craig (Gahanna), Tim Eldridge (Columbus Academy), Tony Grozdanovski (Pickerington Central), Zach Mason (Big Walnut), Zach Monhollen (Pickerington North) and Connor Phillips (Grandview), juniors Jordan Carlson (Delaware), Jacob Cini (Bexley) and Charlie Reymann (Worthington Kilbourne) and sophomore Nate Kohl (Hilliard Darby).

Darby senior Chris Johnson is central Ohio's most decorated returning defender after making first-team all-district, second-team all-state and Super 12 honorable mention last season.

Marysville also has a talented senior on defense in Alex Spaulding (second-team all-district), while Dublin Coffman junior Justin Garcia and Academy senior Roshun Sankaran are other top returnees.

Ryan McLaughlin, a Westerville South senior who has verbally committed to play for the College of Charleston, should be among the top area goalkeepers along with Canal Winchester senior Corey Tomacelli.

A group of seniors that includes Coffman's Zak Leedom, Upper Arlington's Rhodes Moore, Kilbourne's Brett Hanna and Westerville North's Brendin Crew are among those who will fill various roles including midfielder for their respective teams. Leedom and Rhodes each made Super 12 honorable mention last year, Hanna was second-team all-state and Crew was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal.

Other top midfielders should include seniors Matt Burgan (Olentangy), Matt Dagne (Olentangy Orange), Will Shary (Thomas) and David Witkoff (Gahanna) and juniors Alex Bumpus (Hilliard Davidson) and Alex Crognale (Gahanna).

GIRLS STARS - The switch that Upper Arlington senior Michela Paradiso made to playing club full time leaves an opening for a new Super 12 captain after she had earned the honor each of the past three seasons.

The top candidate to replace her entering the season could be Gahanna senior Ashley Gogolin, a midfielder who is the only returnee from last year's Super 12 girls team.

Gogolin specializes in creating. Last year, she scored just five goals but had 17 assists.

"She was first-team all-district last year and is just a fearless type of player," Lions coach Jason Hardin said. "She's just a really smart all-around player."

Gogolin is the leader of a strong group of returning midfielders to central Ohio girls soccer.

Coffman junior Bailey Wilson made Super 12 honorable mention after finishing with 14 goals and 10 assists. Davidson junior Lauren Bates also was Super 12 honorable mention and made first-team all-district in Division I. Dublin Jerome senior Courtney Kobashigawa was another Super 12 honorable mention player.

Coffman has a strong player back in the midfield as well in senior Ashley Stratton, who has verbally committed to play for Duquesne University.

Others looking to make an impact at the position include seniors Tori Bias (Delaware) and Jordan Fitzgerald (Grandview) and sophomore Skylar Fleak (Big Walnut).

Pickerington Central junior Lizzie Awuah might be the area's most versatile player after splitting time last season between forward and goalkeeper. After scoring eight goals and sharing the goalkeeper job last season, she could see more extensive action in goal this season.

Other top goalkeepers are seniors Kayla Angermeier (Westerville North), Alex Hoferkamp (Darby), Shauni Kerkhoff (Orange), Megan O'Donnell (Scioto) and Nicole Sprow (Grove City) and junior Anna Buhigas (Scioto).

Defensively, Thomas senior Megan Insley should be among the top returning players. She contributed seven goals and five assists and made Super 12 honorable mention last season.

Others top players on defense include senior Jill Singer (New Albany) and juniors Amanda Fodor (Hilliard Bradley), Christy Macioce (Pickerington North), Maddy Maxwell (Thomas) and Ashleigh Riddle (Darby).

In addition to Stratton and Wilson, Coffman has a talented player at forward in senior Madison Vellky. She played club soccer last fall but has returned to the program and is a Southern Indiana recruit.

Academy senior Erin Simmons returns after tallying 31 goals and 13 assists while making Super 12 honorable mention last season.

Senior Becca Glenn is back after making first-team all-league last season for eventual Division I state runner-up Pickerington North.

Also at forward are seniors Erin Banaag (Bradley) and Becca Glenn (Pickerington North), juniors Ashlynn Jones (Pickerington North) and Maggie Mayo (Gahanna) and sophomore Ashley Blake (Davidson).