Alex Gossard has returned home and is ready to lead the Hilliard Bradley High School boys lacrosse program.
The 2012 Bradley graduate, who played for Wilmington College, is excited to be coaching the Jaguars, who finished 3-15 overall last season and went 1-5 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to place sixth behind champion Dublin Jerome (6-0).
Gossard replaced Hank Lewandowski, who coached Bradley for just one season.
"There was a lot of nerves being an alumnus, and I knew I eventually wanted to come back here," Gossard said. "There were some nerves in the first game (a 12-8 loss to Pickerington Central on March 17 in the Ohio Machine High School Showcase at Fortress Obetz), but they were exciting nerves. I think after the first whistle, everything started falling into place and I was able to reel things in."
The Jaguars have started 1-2 overall. After falling to Central, they lost to Westerville North 10-2 on March 20 before defeating Bexley 9-2 on March 24.
Bradley has six seniors in attacker Nick Saylor, midfielders Eli Bjornes, Thomas Clarke and Kellan Grainger and defenders Colton Pyle and Jake Humphreys, who is a Cleveland State signee.
"Coach came in and kind of kicked us in the butt and told us that it wasn't going to be like last year," Grainger said. "He understands how good the program was and how far we have fallen and he can help us get back where we were."
The Jaguars have a 23-player roster, including seven sophomores and five freshmen. Grainger said the upperclassmen need to set the right example.
"You have to lead by example," Grainger said. "If the young kids see you doing it and you put in heart and effort, that will rub off onto them."
The Jaguars return five starters in Grainger, Humphreys, junior midfielder Nathan Fritchley, junior attacker Drew Whittekind and sophomore midfielder Matt Humphreys.
Junior Colin McClurg was the backup goalie last season but has moved to attacker.
"Colin's hands are his strength and we decided he would be better in the attack," said Gossard, whose team opens league play April 5 at home against Dublin Scioto. "He's been a real leader for us on the field and he's one of the best shooters on the team."
Rounding out the team are juniors Andrew Bell and Will Kinser, sophomores Reis Daniel, Logan Germaine, Colby Gides, Dylan Miller, Trenton Morrow and Mitch Poulson and freshmen Nathan Alting, Liam Kennedy, Paddy Krai, Zach Lehman and Zach Sember.
Given that Bradley's roster includes many young players new to varsity, Gossard must spend time at practice going over the fundamentals of the sport.
"We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, so we have a lot of growing to do," he said. "We need effort, effort, effort and we have to drill the fundamentals of the game. The kids need to learn our system and in a couple years they will know it like the back of their hand."
New coach sizing up girls lacrosse team
The girls lacrosse team is being led by first-year coach Courtney Johnson, who replaced the program's only previous coach in Becky Mottlow.
Johnson, a 2009 graduate of Dublin Coffman, was an all-state performer for the Shamrocks. She coached Centerville the past two years, leading the Elks to a 10-6 record last spring after going 5-14 in 2016.
She takes over a Bradley program that finished 4-15 overall last season and went 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish fifth behind champion Thomas Worthington (6-0).
"It's a fun group of girls (at Bradley) and they get along well," Johnson said. "We're still getting to know them as coaches. They mesh well and have good chemistry and positive attitudes."
Johnson said the Jaguars had three hands-on leaders during the offseason in senior midfielder Casey Mignery, senior defender Callie Rogers and junior defender Emily Siford.
"Casey, Callie and Emily are definitely showing some leadership for us," said Johnson, whose team opened March 27 against Pickerington North and begins league play April 5 at Scioto. "They were able to run things and get things going in the offseason before we were allowed to coach, and they definitely helped the other players."
Emma Donaldson will play in goal for the first time, but Johnson said the freshman is catching on to the position quickly.
Also on the team are seniors Maggie Clingman (midfielder) and Hanna Reker (attacker), juniors Hannah Hubler (defender), Samy Vawter (midfielder) and Payton Williams (attacker), sophomores Najma Abu (defender), Lexy Apollonio (attacker), Kate Hittie (midfielder), Maggie Ullum (defender) and Cate Wagner (midfielder) and freshmen Faith Blackwell (goalie) and Mallory Mauracher (midfielder).
"We have a lot of good players, but we have only had everyone at just one practice," Johnson said on March 22. "We need to work on communication, because when we do that we work together well. Right now, we're fine-tuning our offense and defense."
March 17 -- Pickerington Central in Ohio Machine High School Showcase at Fortress Obetz
March 20 -- vs. Westerville North
March 24 -- at Bexley
March 31 -- vs. Westerville South
April 3 -- vs. Licking Valley
*April 5 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 9 -- at Thomas Worthington
*April 12 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*April 17 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 24 -- at Delaware
*May 1 -- at Darby
May 4 -- at Davidson
May 7 -- at Gahanna
May 8 -- Watterson at Dublin Jerome
March 27 -- vs. Pickerington North
April 3 -- at Wellington
*April 5 -- at Dublin Scioto
*April 10 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*April 12 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
April 14 -- vs. Gahanna
*April 17 -- at Dublin Jerome
April 21 -- Chillicothe and Mentor in Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington
*April 24 -- vs. Delaware
April 25 -- at Davidson
April 28 -- vs. Centerville
*May 1 -- at Darby
May 3 -- at Dublin Coffman
May 8 -- vs. Beavercreek
May 10 -- at Westerville Central
April 11 -- vs. Bexley
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley baseball, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 31 -- Home vs. Big Walnut (DH)
*April 2 -- At Thomas Worthington
*April 4 -- Home vs. Thomas
March 29 -- Home vs. Groveport
*April 2 -- At Thomas
*April 4 -- Home vs. Thomas
April 4 -- At Olentangy Liberty
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at Davidson
April 4 -- At Marysville
*March 29 -- At Thomas