The Westerville Central High School girls soccer team has the experience to make this a special season.

The Westerville Central High School girls soccer team has the experience to make this a special season.

How well the team adapts to new coach Adham Schirg could be the key to a championship run. Schirg replaces former coach Michael Conover, who coached the Warhawks for five seasons.

Conover resigned in the offseason because of new time commitments arising in his day job.

Schirg, who most recently was an assistant at Johnstown, takes over a Warhawks team that returns 13 letterwinners. Central was 12-5-2 overall last season and 4-1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.

"We have quite a bit of experience at the varsity level, and all of our players bring specific talents," Schirg said. "It's going to be about coming together as a team and working for each other."

Central could have a strong attack led by senior midfielder Dominique Brown, a first-team all-OCC selection last season.

In the midfield, the Warhawks return junior Taylor Wells, who was second team all-OCC last season, and senior Meredith Lineberry.

The other midfielders are seniors Erin Fitzpatrick, Megan Martin and Kayla Schlatterbeck and sophomore Morgan Johnson.

Seniors Aubrey Schirtzinger and Mackenzie Spicer, junior Ariel Wiley and sophomore Abby Rothney play both the midfield and forward positions. Junior Kendra Terry also is a forward.

Leading the defense is senior April Tausch, who was special mention all-OCC last season. It's a unit that also includes seniors Courtney Jones, Kat Kelley and Ellis Wallinger and juniors Cara Parrish and Sara Persaud.

Junior Mary Stump is the goalkeeper.

The players also have to adjust to playing on a turf field for home games.

"The transition is difficult because the pace of the game is so different," Schirg said. "You have to check a little bit harder for the ball on grass, and on turf you have that little bit of extra time where that ball will come to you."

The Warhawks finished third last year in the OCC-Cardinal, behind Olentangy Liberty (6-0-1) and North (5-1-1). The Warhawks finished better than Dublin Jerome (3-2-2), Dublin Scioto (1-3-3), Marysville (1-4-2), Olentangy (1-4-2) and South (1-6).

Last season ended with a 3-0 loss to DeSales in a district semifinal.

•The turf field is going to change the way the boys soccer team plays this season.

"We can play more of a possession game," said ninth-year coach David Pence, whose team was 10-7-1 overall and 3-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal last season. "Last year with the field, the grass was chewed up and to play a possession game, it was hard to pass."

To compensate for past field conditions, Central focused on playing the ball down the sidelines and then centering it in front of the goal.

The new style of play coincides with a Central team trying to make up for the loss of eight starters.

The lone returning starters are seniors Emmanual Appiah, Marc Simonds and Jake Marburger. Appiah, a forward, was first-team all-OCC last season. The other forwards are seniors Omar Kamarra and Danny Kruk, junior Jon Krempsky and sophomore Aaron Smith.

Simonds and seniors Alex Ferrara and Zach Ross are leading the midfield. They all received extensive playing time last season. The other midfielders are junior Nate Gallup, sophomore Curtis Baker and freshman Hunter Robertson.

Marburger returns to a defense which also includes seniors Drew Enscoe and Alex Holtom and junior Joel Sutphin, who also could play midfield.

Junior Connor Johnson plays goalkeeper with junior Blake Mund backing him up.

Central was fifth in the OCC-Cardinal last season. The Warhawks finished behind Dublin Jerome (6-0-1), Olentangy Liberty (6-1), Dublin Scioto (4-1-2) and North (3-2-2), and ahead of Marysville (2-5), Olentangy (1-6) and South (0-7).

"We have a whole different mentality," Pence said. "I think our work rate has been unmatched. It's different playing on turf. The boys expect it can do something for us and people don't have a lot of expectations for us, which is kind of the way we like it."

At a glance

BOYS

Aug. 23 - vs. Upper Arlington

Aug. 25 - vs. St. Charles

*Aug. 31 - at South

Sept. 2 - at Dublin Coffman

*Sept. 7 - vs. North

*Sept. 14 - at Marysville

Sept. 16 - at Gahanna

*Sept. 21 - vs. Dublin Scioto

Sept. 23 - at Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 28 - vs. Olentangy

Sept. 30 - at Hilliard Bradley

*Oct. 5 - at Olentangy Liberty

Oct. 7 - vs. New Albany

Oct. 9 - at Crew Stadium vs. Reynoldsburg

*Oct. 12 - vs. Dublin Jerome

Oct. 14 - vs. Olentangy Orange

GIRLS

Aug. 24 - vs. Hilliard Davidson

Aug. 26 - at Worthington Kilbourne

*Aug. 30 - vs. South

Sept. 2 - at Pickerington North

*Sept. 7 - at North

Sept. 9 - vs. Gahanna

*Sept. 14 - vs. Marysville

Sept. 16 - vs. Central Crossing

*Sept. 21 - at Dublin Scioto

Sept. 23 - vs. Watterson

*Sept. 28 - at Olentangy

Sept. 30 - at Dublin Coffman

*Oct. 5 - vs. Olentangy Liberty

Oct. 7 - vs. New Albany

*Oct. 12 - at Dublin Jerome

Oct. 14 - at Olentangy Orange

*OCC-Cardinal game