The Westerville South High School boys lacrosse team is off to a good start under first-year coach Tom Favorito.

The Westerville South High School boys lacrosse team is off to a good start under first-year coach Tom Favorito.

The Wildcats are 3-0 heading into their game against Wheeling (W.Va.) Central Catholic on Friday, April 1.

Central Catholic is the defending state champion in West Virginia.

South opened the season by beating Dublin Scioto 4-3 on March 21. The Wildcats also defeated Gahanna 11-7 on March 24 and Delaware 11-7 on March 25.

Favorito replaced Connor McGowan, who stepped down following last season.

Favorito helped form the Delaware boys lacrosse program two years ago. He coached the Pacers in their first season in 2009 and was as an assistant coach at Olentangy Orange last season.

"The opening was there, I interviewed with them and it seemed like a great group of guys," Favorito said of South. "I wanted to get back into head coaching again. It's been a great experience so far working with everyone involved with Westerville South."

Senior attacker Jeff Haney leads the Wildcats with eight goals followed by freshman attacker Connor McDonald with seven goals and two assists.

Junior midfielder Lucas Gall has four goals and two assists, and senior midfielder Kyle Hoggarth has three goals.

Hoggarth, senior defenseman Alex McCambridge and senior goalkeeper Zeid Rawahneh are captains.

Favorito said the defense is the strength of the team.

Rawahneh, who had 24 saves in the first three games, and McCambridge are joined on defense by senior Nick Snyder, juniors Zack Gordon and Michael King and sophomore Zack Muchlbauer.

Other key players are junior attacker Justin Paselk, sophomore midfielder Jack Dunlope, and freshmen midfielders Kody Dozier and Kane Wollmuth.

"The guys are working extremely hard," Favorito said. "I know this is a hard first week to open up with three games and two on the road, but the guys are coming to work every day. They're getting better every day."

South finished 6-9 last season, an improvement from a 3-15 record in 2009. The Wildcats lost to Upper Arlington 15-2 in the first round of last season's Division I Central Region tournament.

South placed second in the OCC-Central Division. Westerville North won the OCC-Central at 4-0, ahead of the Wildcats (3-1), Pickerington North (2-2), Westerville Central (1-3) and Pickerington Central (0-4).

"We're hoping to win an OCC championship," Favorito said. "North is the defending OCC champion. We're hoping to bring an OCC championship to South. We're hoping to make a good playoff run. This team has experience and it has youth. We have some depth. All the pieces are there. We just have to get better every practice and every game."

North is looking to defend its OCC-Central title.

Last season, the Warriors finished 12-4 overall after losing to Gahanna 15-14 in a play-in game for the Central Region tournament.

"We're using that game to help remind our kids what our ultimate goal is," third-year coach Tom Welsh said. "Our goal is to win throughout the season, but we have begun to put the pieces together for our offense and defense to be there well into late May and early June."

North, which graduated 12 players from last year's team, opened the season by losing to Thomas Worthington 15-9 on March 23. Its game against Orange on March 25 was postponed.

Senior attacker Drew Hathaway led the Warriors against the Cardinals with five goals. Junior midfielder Wesley Werstiuk scored three goals.

"We have a lot of holes to fill this year and Thomas Worthington is one of the top teams in central Ohio," Welsh said. "Being able to score nine goals against their tight defense, we felt very good about it. We're upset because we lost, but we saw so many great things that our team has done."

Other key attackers are seniors Scott Collins and Justin Hairston, junior Danny Bichsel, sophomore Ryan Buck and freshman Jordan Hicks.

Other key midfielders are seniors Steven Cowles, Logan Coyle and Jake Pawlak, junior Eric Eichorn and sophomores Kevin Schaublin, Daniel Touzinsky and Mitch Weisgerber.

Bichsel, Collins, Coyle and Hathaway are captains.

Bichsel and Hathaway each scored 30 goals last season.

Junior Jeremy Schocken is the starting goalie, and seniors Cole Larimer and Eric Vermeire, junior Kory Watson and sophomore Joe Willis are key defenders.

"We have a great group of kids," Welsh said. "Unfortunately, we spent most of our time during the spring

indoors."

Central opened the season by beating Pickerington North 14-9 on March 23 and Pickerington Central 23-8 on March 25.

Last season, the Warhawks finished 13-8 after losing to Worthington Kilbourne 20-4 in the first round of the Central Region tournament.

Central started 9-3 and then lost three in a row and five of its last nine games.

Seventh-year coach Marc Ayle is hoping for more consistency this

season.

The win against North helped Central avenge a 15-14 loss to the Panthers last season.

"We talked about that game and we said we have a little payback," Ayle said. "Pickerington North is a pretty good team. They're a very athletic team."

Through two games, senior midfielder Jake Marburger led the Warhawks in scoring with 11 goals followed by junior midfielder Jalen Liggins and junior attacker B.K. Wagner with seven apiece, and senior attacker Ty Schroeder with six.

Junior goalie Isaac Erkert made 18 saves in two games.

Other returning attackers are seniors Lee Tucker and Michael Nash. Other returning midfielders are seniors Connor Johnson, Asa Plant and Kyle Winston.

Juniors Tyler Crowe and Vince Bradburn return on defense.

Crowe, Johnson, Marburger and Tucker are captains. Bradburn and Marburger are the lone returning starters.

"These guys are great kids," Ayle said. "We have a tremendous group this year. The attitude is surprising me because we lost eight out of 10 starters. We graduated 14 seniors. We were concerned with how will they respond, especially the young kids.

"Any time you get a bunch of sophomores and juniors with a sprinkling of seniors, you think, 'How are they going to respond? How can the younger guys step up and fill those spots because they are going to be questioning what their roles are?'"

Ayle thinks his team can contend for the OCC-Central title.

"We have three goals," Ayle said. "The first goal every year is to win your division in the OCC. Second goal is to eliminate avoidable injuries and our third goal is have an experience that you are part of a team and part of camaraderie that when you leave you've had an enjoyable experience."