Opponents of the Worthington Christian High School boys soccer team might find themselves facing an even more explosive offense this fall compared to the one which won the Division III state championship a year ago.

Opponents of the Worthington Christian High School boys soccer team might find themselves facing an even more explosive offense this fall compared to the one which won the Division III state championship a year ago.

First and foremost, the Warriors return their leading scorer from last year in junior forward Brett Elder, a second-team all-state player who finished with 34 goals.

They also bring back senior midfielder Trent Smith, junior midfielder Alex Lombardo, sophomore midfielder Albert Miller and sophomore forward Quinn Miller.

Smith scored the winning goal with 7 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first overtime of the state final as Worthington Christian beat Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy 2-1 in Crew Stadium.

Albert Miller, who is the twin brother of returning defender George Miller, is not related to Quinn Miller.

"We have Brett and the sophomores back on offense, and all of our midfield is back, so we have a lot of guys on offense with experience," coach Dan Roads said. "Defensively, we have a lot of new guys, but we're also pretty excited about what they can do."

Senior Sam Willer is taking over as goalkeeper for 2010 graduate Alex Scott (60 saves), who was among the key players for a defense which posted 13 shutouts last year. Josh Petrel returns as sweeper and is joined in the senior class by midfielder Conor Holland and defenders Alex Richards and Matt Rickly.

Also looking to contribute are juniors Grant Dingess (midfielder), Kalen Kress (defender), Ben McKenzie (defender), Nick Miller (forward), Reid Smith (midfielder), Ben Tjoelker (midfielder) and Brooks Weygandt (defender).

Last season, the Warriors finished 18-4-1 overall and second in the CCL at 4-1, behind Division II state champion DeSales (5-0) and ahead of St. Charles (2-2-1), Hartley (1-2-2), Watterson (1-3-1) and Ready (0-5). Worthington Christian is no longer in the CCL but kept Hartley, St. Charles and Watterson on its schedule.

The Warriors beat Heath 11-0, Fisher Catholic 9-0 and Fairbanks 2-0 to win a district title, Columbus Academy 1-0 and South Webster 2-1 to capture a regional title and Cincinnati Seven Hills 1-0 in a state semifinal. It was their fifth consecutive season of reaching state.

Their only loss was a 4-1 setback to DeSales.

Caleb Palumbo, a 2010 graduate who made ThisWeek Super 12, is playing for Mount Vernon Nazarene. Others lost to graduation included Scott (Cedarville), Collin King (Capital), Blake Miller (Denison) and Michael Williams (Cedarville).

"Our guys have been pretty busy," Roads said. "A lot of them took it upon themselves to lift weights and get bigger. Some of these guys' offseason efforts have put them on the squad. We have some really good examples of guys that have set the tone pretty early with how we'll work."

•Because of second-year coach Sarah Wiechman's focus on increasing her team's fitness level, the girls soccer team believes it should continue the improvement that saw it win six more games a year ago than in 2008.

The Warriors have a 10-player senior class that features forward Mackenzie Clapper, center-midfielder Jessey Cermelj and sweeper Tobie Weston. Junior Allie Custer (outside-midfielder) and sophomore Katie Feusse (center-midfielder) also bring speed to an offense which averaged three goals a year ago. Clapper made it to the Division III state track meet in the 800 meters, and the 1,600 relay of Clapper, Custer, Feusse and Weston also advanced to state.

Others expected to start are freshman Taylor Klass at outside-midfielder, seniors Sarah Beum and Nena Lamonte at outside-back, junior Kayla Canady at stopper and senior Molly Landis in goal.

Also on the team are seniors Emily Englehart, Josie Miller and Brittany Wicker, sophomore Bailey Strick and freshman Madison Safer.

"We had a little tournament in July that we won and we've had a lot of scrimmages that we did well in," Wiechman said. "We actually have all of our starters back. We have a lot of seniors this year, and I'm pretty heavy on fitness. Especially with us not having many subs, they have to be fit."

After going 3-14 in 2008, the Warriors finished with a 9-6-3 record last season. They beat Tree of Life 3-0 in the first round of the Division II district tournament before falling to Fisher Catholic 4-0 in the second round.

In its final season in the CCL, Worthington Christian went 1-2-2 to place fourth, behind Watterson (5-0), DeSales (4-1) and Ready (2-2-1) and ahead of Hartley (1-3-1) and Columbus School for Girls (0-5). The only senior was backup outside-back Madison Mikhail.

"Obviously, I want us to go further in the tournament this year," Wiechman said. "We've never really been successful in the tournament. As long as everybody stays healthy, we're hoping to make it further this year."


Schedules

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 24 - at Hilliard Bradley

Aug. 26 - at Marysville

Aug. 28 - at Cincinnati Summit Country Day

Aug. 31 - vs. Hartley

Sept. 2 - vs. Hilliard Davidson

Sept. 11 - at Bexley

Sept. 13 - vs. Watterson

Sept. 18 - at St. Charles

Sept. 23 - vs. Westerville South

Sept. 25 - vs. Columbus Academy

Sept. 28 - at Grandview

Sept. 30 - vs. Wellington

Oct. 2 - at Bloom-Carroll

Oct. 7 - at Delaware

Oct. 9 - vs. Olentangy

Oct. 14 - vs. Dublin Coffman

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 24 - at Hilliard Darby

Aug. 26 - vs. Columbus School for Girls

Aug. 28 - at Bloom-Carroll

Aug. 31 - at Northland

Sept. 7 - vs. Centennial

Sept. 11 - vs. Madison Christian

Sept. 14 - vs. Amanda-Clearcreek

Sept. 16 - at Hartley

Sept. 18 - vs. Ready

Sept. 24 - at Wellington

Sept. 25 - vs. Marysville

Sept. 30 - at Fairbanks

Oct. 5 - vs. Columbus Academy

Oct. 7 - vs. Delaware

Oct. 12 - vs. West Jefferson

Oct. 14 - at Buckeye Valley


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Worthington Christian boys and girls cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Saturday - Boys, girls: At Newark Catholic in opener

GOLF

Last Friday - Finished third (335) in 11-team Warrior Invitational at Medallion, behind Mount Vernon (302) and Granville (326)

Last Monday - Finished 10th (350) at 14-team Columbus Academy Shootout, behind champion Kettering Alter (301)

Today - Hartley at TBA

Tuesday - Ready at Glenross

BOYS SOCCER

Last Tuesday - Played Hilliard Bradley in opener

Today - At Marysville

Saturday - At Cincinnati Summit Country Day

Tuesday - Home vs. Hartley

GIRLS SOCCER

Last Tuesday - Played Hilliard Darby in opener

Today - Home vs. Columbus School for Girls

Saturday - At Bloom-Carroll

Tuesday - At Northland

TENNIS

Last Friday - Defeated Olentangy 4-1 in opener

Today - Home vs. Bloom-Carroll

Friday - Home vs. Wellington

Monday - Home vs. Marion Harding

Tuesday - Home vs. Ready

VOLLEYBALL

Saturday - At Fisher Catholic in opener

Monday - At Whetstone

Tuesday - Home vs. Buckeye Valley