Third-year Wellington School boys lacrosse coach Patrick Donlon believes his team will benefit from an increase in players.
The Jaguars, who open Wednesday, April 3, at DeSales, have 25 players this season after having 17 last season. Not only do the additional eight players improve the team's depth, they also have impacted its practices.
"This is the largest roster we've had, which is great for a variety of reasons," Donlon said. "The biggest difference is that now we can actually practice 10-on-10 using the full field with two goalies. Last year, we had so few guys that our coaches had to practice with the guys and we used only half the field. This year, we've been able to practice using our full field and our coaches can coach the whole time."
Wellington, which finished 5-13 last season, features five returning senior starters in goalkeeper Russell Fast, defenders Jonathan Robinson and Jordan Tunnell and midfielders Quinten Henricks and Jonathan Taylor.
Last year, Robinson was named second-team all-region and Taylor (24 goals, 18 assists) and Tunnell were honorable mention all-region.
Other returnees are juniors Will Edwards (midfielder) and Max Schmitz (defender) and sophomores Moshen Abdeli (defender), Ricky Mershad (midfielder), Sheridan Shumate (midfielder), Ben Sloneker (defender), Alex Tobin (attacker) and Casey Winkle (attacker).
Rounding out the roster are junior Taff Anderson (defender), sophomore Joey Zallanta (midfielder) and freshmen Henry Bare (midfielder), Nate Beam (goalie), Jack Chester (midfielder), Roth Dehlendorf (long-stick midfielder), George Emery (attacker), Aria Kamian (midfielder), Luke Lui (midfielder), Alex Tannous (attacker), Victor Verdier (midfielder) and Jacob Wobbrock (midfielder).
"We graduated players who accounted for about 85 percent of our goals last year, but we return some strong defensive players, so defense is going to be our strength," Donlon said.
Donlon said his team also is focusing on maintaining possession of the ball so that it can grind out low-scoring victories against the tougher opponents on its schedule.
Last season, Wellington won five of its first 12 games before losing its final six contests, including a 14-5 loss to Watterson in the first round of the Division II Central Region tournament.
"My goal is for our team to average around 25 shots per game and to score about 10 goals, because we feel like our defense is strong enough to hold our opponents to fewer shots and goals than that," Donlon said.
Girls lacrosse team looking to improve
The girls lacrosse team opens Tuesday, April 2, at Dublin Jerome.
The Jaguars, who finished 4-11 overall last season, return seven players in senior Helen Fite (midfielder), juniors Nia Kaudo (defender), Natalie Morse (attacker), Mallory Tannous (midfielder) and Sarah Wakeman (attacker) and sophomores Riley Barnwell (attacker) and Carolyn Faller (defender).
Fite, Kaudo, Morse and Tannous are team captains.
Rounding out the roster are senior Neale Snyder (defender), juniors Lizzie Dvorkin (attacker) and Delaney Perkins (attackers), sophomore Alyssa Cook (attacker) and freshmen Derin Atekoja (goalie), Quinn Coleman (attacker), Julia Doran (attacker), Gwenyth Hughes (midfielder), Lucie Kirk (defender), Abbey Mayne (midfielder) and Regan Price (attacker).
"Our team captains are providing great leadership and they were huge in recruiting new athletes to the team because we weren't going to have any subs at one point," first-year coach Gabby Sinmaz said.
Last season, Wellington went 1-6 in the Central Independent League to tie Granville for seventh, behind Columbus Academy (7-0), Bexley (5-2), Hartley (4-2-1), Columbus School for Girls (4-3), Watterson (3-3-1) and DeSales (2-5).
The Jaguars defeated Dayton Miami Valley 16-2 in the first round of the Division II South/Central Region tournament last year before losing to New Albany 18-5 in the second round.
"The girls are passionate about wanting to change how our team is looked at and we're building off of a lot of new concepts this year," Sinmaz said. "The girls are so eager to learn and they are very hard-working. They're very team-oriented and they take pride in what they each bring to the table."