Upper Arlington girls soccer coach Chris Merrick hopes to lose count of how many of his players touch the ball during any given possession this season.
"I want to play a possession(-based) game," Merrick said. "I want to have a solid link from our defenders to our midfielders, and then they can play it up to the forwards. It'd be nice to connect five, six, seven solid passes instead of just booting the ball and running up the field. I want us to move through (opponents) to find the best chances to attack."
Merrick succeeded Bob McGee as coach. McGee was hired in January to replace Mark Wise, who resigned after five seasons and now coaches Westerville South. McGee won 292 games at UA from 1998-2008, but his second stint with the Golden Bears was short-lived, as he resigned for personal reasons just a few weeks after being hired.
Merrick was hired in late March. A 1996 graduate of Worthington Kilbourne, he coached Watterson's junior varsity from 2001-06.
"It took me a few weeks to get situated here, but I'm excited," said Merrick, whose team opened Aug. 19 at home against New Albany. "We have 10 varsity players back. That's a good number to have."
UA finished 7-8-2 overall last year, losing to Watterson 2-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The Bears went 2-3-2 in the OCC-Central Division to place sixth, behind champion Dublin Coffman (6-0-1).
UA, which begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Thomas Worthington, returns its top scorer from a year ago in senior midfielder Maddie Miller, who had 16 goals, and junior goalkeeper Hannah Ewing.
The other returnees are senior defenders Alex Beery and Hannah Peale, senior midfielders Julia Klebe and Rachel Piscopo, junior defender Madeline Fleming, junior midfielder Megyn Morgan, sophomore defender Olivia Dado and sophomore forward Mary Bridget Ginn.
The remainder of the roster consists of junior forwards Logan Moore and Colette Young, junior midfielder Maeve O'Brien, junior forward/midfielder Mary Nicole Scott, sophomore midfielders Claire Mitchell and Olivia Schildmeyer, sophomore mid-fielder/defender Anna Piscopo, sophomore defender Lauryn Willmarth and two freshmen in Ava D'Herete, a utility player, and Abby Wild, a defender.
The Bears scored 44 goals last year.
"This team has a lot of potential to be competitive and successful, not just in the OCC, but maybe in the (district) tournament, too," Merrick said. "If we can pull off a few wins (in the postseason), we'll be pretty pleased."
Boys soccer team looking for scorers
The boys soccer team returns its starting goalie from a year ago in junior goalie Will Collis, but it must replace its top two scorers in its second year under coach Mic Rogers.
Collis recorded or contributed to seven shutouts last season as UA finished 8-8-1 overall and went 4-3 in the OCC-Central to finish fifth, behind champion Coffman (6-1).
Eleven of the Bears' 17 games were decided by two goals or fewer.
UA lost 11 players to graduation, including Juan Barros, a forward/midfielder who had seven goals and five assists last year and was named first-team all-league and second-team all-district in Division I, and Joey Jentgen, a forward who had seven goals and two assists and was second-team all-league.
The Bears, who opened Aug. 19 at Pickerington Central and begin league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Thomas Worthington, have seven seniors in forwards Graham Anderson, Owen Auch and Jack Strahm, defenders Doug Bannon and Will Myers, forward/midfielder Billy Hansen and midfielder Austin Russell.
Also on the roster are junior forwards Santiago Barros and Jack Minnery, junior defenders Nikolas Grotewold, Nathan Martyn and Kellen Turnbull, junior midfielders James McCombs, Reid Sochereau and Jack Stummer, sophomore forwards Matthew Beery and Quinn Hendrix, sophomore defender Alec Holden and sophomore goalie Jack Schoedinger.
Aug. 19 -- at Pickerington Central
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Aug. 30 -- at Gahanna
*Sept. 2 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 4 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 9 -- at Central Crossing
Sept. 11 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 13 -- vs. Perrysburg
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 23 -- at Marysville
Sept. 25 -- vs. Watterson
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Westland
Oct. 2 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Oct. 4 -- at Worthington Christian
*Oct. 7 -- at Dublin Coffman
Oct. 9 -- at Westerville Central
Aug. 19 -- vs. New Albany
Aug. 23 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Aug. 26 -- at Thomas Worthington
Aug. 30 -- vs. Chillicothe
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 6 -- at Pickerington Central
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 13 -- vs. Newark
*Sept. 16 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 20 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Marysville
Sept. 25 -- at Chillicothe Zane Trace
Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 30 -- at Westland
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Oct. 9 -- at Westerville Central