Although she realizes her team lacks depth, Westerville South High School girls lacrosse coach Allison Neff hopes the Wildcats can continue to make strides.
Last season, South set a program record for wins while finishing 6-10 overall.
Neff believes her team has the potential to finish at least .500 for the first time in its seven-year history.
The Wildcats opened by splitting a pair of OCC-Central Division games, defeating Big Walnut 12-4 on March 22 and losing to Pickerington Central 11-8 on March 23.
"Last year was our winningest season as a program and we're hoping to have at least a .500 season this year," said Neff, who is in her fifth season. "Even with no subs, I really believe it's attainable. I believe in my team."
The Wildcats return senior goalkeeper Isa Rodriguez, who last season had 267 saves and was first-team all-league.
"I love my team," Rodriguez said. "We're small, but we're effective."
Also back is junior midfielder Victoria Husain, who had 20 goals and an assist and was second-team all-league last season.
Senior midfielder Katie Gorman had 14 goals and two assists, and junior midfielder Casey Kusan had 12 goals and one assist.
Kusan's status for the early season was unclear. She is recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury to her right knee suffered during soccer season.
Also back are juniors Kieren Arens (midfielder), McKenna Davis (midfielder), Trista Diersing (defender) and Kayleigh Garcia (defender) and sophomores Anna Marie Lynn (defender) and Tiffany Schafer (attacker).
"We have some really smart and skillful returnees, and they're teaching all of our rookies and they've just progressed so far," Neff said.
Other players are juniors Jackie Mickley (defender) and Danielle Steele (defender), sophomores Amanda Phillips (midfielder) and Olivia Skaates (midfielder) and freshmen Audrey Poissant (attacker) and Becca Rottersman (midfielder).
"We have just enough players ... so that is going to be our biggest concern this season, staying healthy, (as well as) playing really smart and having a really tactful game," Neff said. "We just have to make the ball work for us. We can't be running the ball the whole season down the field, so transition is going to be a key for us."
Last season, the Wildcats went 5-2 in the OCC-Central to tie Pickerington Central for second, behind Pickerington North (7-0) and ahead of Gahanna (4-3), Westerville Central (3-4), Delaware (2-5), Westerville North (2-5) and Big Walnut (0-7).
South defeated Westerville Central 13-9 and Westerville North 11-6.
The Wildcats lost to Toledo Notre Dame 13-7 in the first round of the Division I North/Central Region tournament.
Among four players from a year ago lost to graduation were midfielder Brittany Fandrey, who led the team in scoring with 37 goals and four assists and was first-team all-league, and midfielder Taelor Severing, who had 31 goals and two assists and was honorable mention all-league.
North looking for more wins in 2013
After going 4-12 last season, second-year North coach Chip Walston hopes his team can improve on that record.
"I hope we can do better this year," he said. "The hardest part for us is we have a ton of new girls that have never played before."
Last season, the Warriors lost to Mentor 14-3 in the first round of the Division I North/Central Region tournament.
North split its games with Central, losing 13-7 and winning 14-13 in overtime.
The Warriors open April 4 with a league game at Big Walnut.
The top returnee is senior attacker Katy Williams, who had a team-high 47 goals and was first-team all-league and second-team all-region last season.
Senior midfielder Tricia Gerber had 18 goals and was second-team all-league, and senior defender Rachel Jantzen was honorable mention all-league.
Senior attacker Caitlyn Moreland had 17 goals and sophomore goalie Sarina Tran had 195 saves.
Other returnees are seniors Miranda Goddard (defender), Megan Koleske (attacker), Ashley Legin (defender) and Tori Smith (attacker) and sophomores Megan Boso (attacker), Teresa Chatel (midfielder) and Rachel Long (attacker).
Other players are freshmen Madie Gauthier (midfielder) and Payton Hurl (attacker).
"We're lucky because we have eight seniors and they're all good players and they've been together since they were ninth-graders," Walston said. "They're really taking charge of the team and they have great attitudes this year."
Central looking for further improvement
After finishing 2-11-1 in 2011, Central went 5-12 last season and lost to Olentangy Orange 24-9 in the first round of the Division I North/Central Region tournament.
Second-year coach Rachel Tooker is looking for further progression this spring.
The Warhawks open Tuesday, April 2, with a league game at Gahanna.
"I like what I see so far," Tooker said. "Almost everyone is improved from last year. We have a bunch of new girls and they're already better from the first day of practice stick skills-wise, and they're picking up the game really quickly. We're excited about it."
Senior midfielder Kelsie Malloy had a team-high 35 goals and was first-team all-league last year.
Junior attacker Rachel Schroeder had 29 goals and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior midfielder Andrea Robinson was first-team all-league and junior defender Mackenzie Moushey was second-team all-league.
Sophomore goalie Gabi Conard had 105 saves.
Central lost one player from a year ago to graduation in attacker Sage Marquardt, who had 31 goals and was second-team all-league.
Other returnees are senior Kiki Hall (defender), juniors Sam Abrahamsen (goalie), Gracie Albany (attacker), Karlene Harrison (defender) and Brady Walston (attacker) and sophomore Cydney Fugazzi (midfielder).
Tooker also expects freshman Lauren LaCasse (midfielder) to contribute.
"We won five games last year, so my goal is to win more than that," Tooker said. "Obviously, they want to win every single game. We really want to make this year special for our seniors."