The Thomas Worthington High School boys soccer team is hoping to pick up where it left off last season.
After winning only two of their first seven games, the Cardinals won nine of their final 11 to finish 11-6-1 overall. They reached a Division I district semifinal before losing to Westerville Central 4-1.
The Cardinals open Thursday, Aug. 21, at Dublin Jerome and begin OCC-Central Division play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at Upper Arlington.
"Our goals are to have a winning record, win an OCC-Central Division championship and make a good run in the postseason tournament," second-year coach Carlos Bonilla said. "Our program is a three-time state champion, so that is always our ultimate goal."
The Cardinals, who won state titles in 1991, 1998 and 2001, lost 10 players from last year to graduation but have returned 12 letterwinners.
"It took awhile (last season) for us to come together and learn to trust the system and methodologies I put into place," Bonilla said. "So we need to trust the system and play hard for each other. We want to keep the ball off the ground and move up and down the field as a unit."
Among the key returnees are senior midfielders Andrew Edison and Jordyn Tennant. Last year, Tennant was named special-mention all-league and Edison was honorable mention all-league, as the Cardinals went 5-2 in the OCC-Central to tie Olentangy for second, behind champion Dublin Coffman (6-1).
Other key returnees are seniors Austin Haimerl and Christian Quinn, both of whom will see time in the midfield and at forward. They are captains along with Edison and Tennant.
"Those guys will be our leaders," Bonilla said of the four captains. "They possess skill and experience. One of the juniors who stands out right now is Zeke Morris. He is very mature and a great player. He's also the vocal leader of our team."
Morris is expected to see playing time as a defender and midfielder, as Thomas will utilize a 4-5-1 formation as well as a 4-2-3-1.
"We are working on a new defense and I'm hoping everyone can pick up on it and do the things we're looking for them to do," Bonilla said. "We do have inexperience in some key positions."
Returning to lead the defense are senior defender Alex Medina and senior goalkeeper Alex Nesterov.
Rounding out the expected starters are senior defenders Charlie Hollman and Peter Huedepohl and senior midfielders Camilo Cangrejo and Marlon Giron.
Completing the roster are seniors Sean Hughes (midfielder/defender) and Alec McDonell (goalie), juniors Amar Alnemer (midfielder), Sean Gelin (midfielder), Zach Kettler (forward) and Nathan Rhoades (defender) and sophomores Beelal Hasan (forward) and Kainnan Ramsey (forward/midfielder).
Wolves are 'kind of' in rebuilding year
Even though Kilbourne was a senior-laden team a year ago, some familiar faces are back for 11th-year coach Jon Sprunger.
The Wolves lost seven starters to graduation, but seven letterwinners have returned.
Last season, Kilbourne finished 9-6-4 overall, losing to St. Charles 1-0 in overtime in a Division I district semifinal, and went 5-0-2 in the OCC-Capital to finish second, behind New Albany (6-0-1).
"We are kind of in a rebuilding year," said Sprunger, whose team opened Aug. 19 at Hilliard Bradley and begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Delaware. "We graduated 11 players last season and lost a junior foreign-exchange student."
The returnees are seniors Justin Jiang and James Reymann and junior Carlos Guerra in the midfield, senior Ian Price and juniors Alex Cash and Clark Moats on defense and sophomore forward George Pearon.
Moats was second-team all-league last year and Pearon led the team in scoring with six goals and three assists.
"James Reymann and Justin Jiang are both two-year letterwinners," Sprunger said. "Reymann will play in our center midfield. He sees the field very well. Jiang is a very versatile player who is dangerous on the flanks.
"We've got Moats and Cash as returning defenders who will play in the center of the back line and Pearon was our leading scorer. Although he's only a sophomore, he will be our marquee offensive player."
Among the key players who graduated was goalie Joey Cipicchio, who had a 0.62 goals-against average and was first-team all-district and all-league last year. He now is playing at Brown University.
"We are very young, but (the players) know what is expected at Kilbourne and they'll work hard to fill in those roles," Sprunger said.
Aug. 19 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Delaware
Aug. 28 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 6 -- at Thomas
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 11 -- at Upper Arlington
Sept. 13 -- vs. Hudson
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Sept. 18 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 23 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Sept. 27 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 30 -- vs. New Albany
*Oct. 7 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Oct. 9 -- at Mount Vernon
Aug. 21 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Aug. 26 -- at Upper Arlington
Aug. 28 -- vs. Westerville South
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 6 -- vs. Kilbourne
*Sept. 9 -- at Dublin Coffman
Sept. 11 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Sept. 13 -- at St. Charles
*Sept. 16 -- at Marysville
Sept. 20 -- vs. Worthington Christian
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 25 -- at Westerville North
Sept. 27 -- at Olentangy
*Sept. 30 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Oct. 9 -- vs. Delaware