Fourth-year Worthington Kilbourne High School boys lacrosse coach Drew May believes his team has more scoring depth than it did a year ago.
Among the returnees expected to help lead the Wolves' offense are senior attacker Jake Roberts and senior midfielder Matt Wylly. Last season, Wylly was fourth on the team in goals with 23 and had four assists and was named second-team all-region.
Kilbourne, which finished 15-4 overall last season, lost 13 players from a year ago to graduation, including attacker Charlie Bassani (22 goals, 36 assists) who made first-team all-state and midfielders James Meager (44 goals, 18 assists) and Brian Miller (31 goals, 19 assists) who made honorable mention all-state.
The Wolves opened March 26 against St. Charles and play host to Cincinnati Moeller on Wednesday, April 3.
"Jake and Matt are top-level scorers who should be at the top of score sheets," May said. "But this group has a lot of balance that we haven't had the past couple of years. We have a lot of guys who can put up 20 goals and 10 assists and we will rely on a lot of people this year, which should make us harder to defend."
Kilbourne returns three other players who saw significant playing time in the midfield last season in senior Jon Watson, junior Josh Happ and sophomore Joe Davis. The Wolves also return four starters on defense in senior Ryan Maloney, juniors Dylan Bishop and Taylor Wilson and sophomore Mike Viera.
Also back is senior goalkeeper James Gundling.
Last season, Maloney and Gundling both made honorable mention all-state and first-team all-region. Maloney also was second-team all-OCC-Buckeye Division, as the Wolves went 4-2 in the league to finish third behind Dublin Jerome (6-0) and Upper Arlington (5-1) and ahead of Thomas Worthington (3-3), Dublin Coffman (2-4), Hilliard Davidson (1-5) and Dublin Scioto (0-6).
Also on the team are seniors Sean Baumgardner (defender), Kyle Johnson (goalie), Mike Marrah (midfielder), Brandon Pfahl (attacker) and Mike Turnbull (goalie), juniors Dylan Bishop (defender), Mike Coen (defender), Will Good (defender), Jake Kovacs (midfielder), Matt Lacey (defender), Shawn Lauderman (attacker), Jayce Miller (midfielder), Sam Shaffer (midfielder), Kevin Stovall (attacker), Cameron Watson (midfielder), Cam Watson (midfielder) and Taylor Wilson (defender), sophomores Ryan Agner (attacker), Grayson Biglin (midfielder), Michael Calvert (defender) and John Mack (midfielder) and freshmen Alex Cash (defender) and Jared Happ (midfielder).
"One of our goals is to win the OCC because if we can win it, we should have the potential to win our region and state tournaments," May said.
Kilbourne defeated Gahanna 21-7 in the first round of the Division I Central Region tournament last year before losing to Thomas 8-6 in the second round, marking the first time since 2006 that the Wolves did not advance to at least a state semifinal.
The Wolves, who had beaten Thomas 11-5 in a league contest six weeks earlier, went 6-3 in games decided by one or two goals.
Cardinals look to reload, not rebuild
Thomas lost three-quarters of its roster from last season, when it finished 15-6 overall and placed fourth in the OCC-Buckeye, to graduation.
The Cardinals return seven players in seniors Will Byars (defender), Max King (attacker), Joe Reibel (midfielder) and Evan Smith (goalie), junior Enzo Gianfagna (attacker) and sophomores Henry Karagory (defender) and Michael Schonhiutt (midfielder).
"We lost 22 seniors from last year's team, but we have some good seniors back and some good younger talent, too," said first-year coach Jeff Irwin, whose team opened plays host to New Albany on Thursday, March 28. "When you lose 22 kids, people obviously wonder if you're going to have a rebuilding year, but we expect our kids to perform and make the most of this season."
Also on the team are seniors Will Byars (defender), Ezra Cason (midfielder), Rocky Dendieu (midfielder), Connor Grubb (defender), Connor Haley (midfielder), Brett McCarthy (midfielder) and Chase Norman (midfielder), juniors Kevin Hill (midfielder), Cody Hootman (defender), Justin May (midfielder) and Aiden McCarthy (midfielder), sophomores Michael Hilliard (midfielder), Luke Porteus (attacker), Ethan Reed (attacker), P.J. Shotwell (defender), Ian Westfall (attacker) and Alex Wheat (defender) and freshman Nick Hegarty (attacker).
Among the key players from a year ago who graduated were midfielder Eric Monfort (39 goals, 9 assists), who made first-team all-state and all-region, attacker Kyle Gratz (25 goals, 56 assists), who was honorable mention all-state and first-team all-region, and defender Nick Sharick, who was first-team all-state and all-region.
Last season, Thomas defeated Pickerington Central 14-7 in the first round of the Division I Central Region tournament and defeated Kilbourne in the second round before losing to UA 13-9 in the regional final.
"Our goals are to consistently get better every day and to play for hardware come tournament time," Irwin said. "Making it to the state tournament is always the expectation at Thomas Worthington."