The sting of an overtime loss in a Division I regional semifinal last season was somewhat eased for the Upper Arlington High School girls soccer team by the anticipated return of a talented group of players.

The sting of an overtime loss in a Division I regional semifinal last season was somewhat eased for the Upper Arlington High School girls soccer team by the anticipated return of a talented group of players.

However, the Golden Bears' roster will have a much different look this season, as five players, including standout senior forward Michela Paradiso, an Ohio State recruit and three-time ThisWeek Super 12 captain, opted not to return.

Paradiso, seniors Maddy Horner, Olivia Horner and Taylor Stroh and sophomore Chiara Paradiso - Michela's sister - decided to play for the Ohio Premier Girls Soccer Club team.

"I felt a little bit like Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta when he lost all that talent early to the NBA," said third-year coach Mark Wise, whose team opened Aug. 22 at Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. "It's unfortunate, but I still would be surprised if we weren't playing some good soccer by the end of the season."

The decision was an emotional one for Michela Paradiso, who had 20 goals and six assists last season and was named first-team all-state and all-district and the OCC-Central Division Player of the Year.

UA finished 15-3-2 overall last season, losing 1-0 to Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal.

The Bears went 5-1-1 in the OCC-Central to place third, behind Hilliard Davidson (6-0-1) and Coffman (5-0-2) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (3-3-1), Worthington Kilbourne (3-3-1), Hilliard Darby (2-5), Westland (1-6) and Central Crossing (0-7).

"It was a really, really hard decision and it was hard to say goodbye," Paradiso said.

"I thought the best way to prepare for Ohio State would be to train with the club team. High school soccer is great, but I just felt this was the right decision for me."

Paradiso said her decision had nothing to do with her teammates or Wise, whom she called "an awesome" coach.

"Club teams have always had an advantage because coaches don't have the same rules we have to follow," Wise said. "I know Michela wants to pursue a spot on the national team and high school soccer wasn't going to contribute to that effort."

The players who did return are motivated to move forward.

"It's been tough and emotional because these girls were not only teammates, but also friends off the field," senior midfielder Eileen Saunders said. "But we still have a lot of young, great players who are going to get better this year."

Other returnees include sophomore goalkeeper Ashley Copley and senior midfielder Megan Demott. Senior defender Lily Rhodehamel also saw playing time a year ago.

Other postseason wins last season included overtime victories over Olentangy Liberty (2-1 in a district final) and Gahanna (2-1 in a district semifinal).

UA also must replace its second-leading scorer from last year in forward Gena Inbusch, a 2011 graduate who is playing at Vanderbilt, and defender Ali Stone, another graduate who was second-team all-league a year ago.

"It's going to be fun to see which girls step up this season," Wise said. "A lot of these girls have been in the shadows and now those shadows are gone."