Second-year Hilliard Davidson High School boys lacrosse coach Adam Beasley and his players are confident they can rebound from a slow start to the season.
With several returnees and an influx of young talent, the Wildcats entered the season with high hopes, but were 0-2 overall before playing Westerville North on March 27.
Davidson opened March 17 with a 14-6 loss to Olentangy in the Ohio Machine High School Showcase at Fortress Obetz before losing 12-3 at Worthington Kilbourne on March 24.
Senior attacker A.J. VanVoorhis had four goals and an assist and senior goalkeeper Sam Backenstoe had nine saves against Olentangy. Against Kilbourne, VanVoorhis had two goals, sophomore attacker Alex VanVoorhis scored one and Backenstoe had nine saves.
"We need to work on the nuances of the game and getting a feel for each other," A.J. VanVoorhis said. "Our midfield needs to grow up, but we'll get there. It's just going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of practice. ... At the end of the day, it's a learning experience and we're going to use this as fuel for the rest of the season."
Davidson is looking to build on last season, when it finished 16-5 overall and went 6-1 in the OCC-Central Division to share the league title with Upper Arlington and Dublin Coffman. The Wildcats open league play April 5 at Coffman.
"We've lost some guys and we've returned some guys who we've had a chance to see what they're made of," Beasley said. "It's so much easier this year. Last year, we had to set the tone and recharge what our culture was. Anytime you take over a team that was consistently a 7-13 team and you have big dreams, you want to try and change it to make it a winning culture."
Alex VanVoorhis said the Wildcats have responded well in Beasley's second season as coach.
"We know how he's going to come in fired up every day for practice ready to go," he said. "We have to match his intensity every day."
Davidson returns several key players, including sophomore midfielder and faceoff specialist Jake Blevins, who was named first-team all-region last season and A.J. VanVoorhis, who had 31 goals and 18 assists and was second-team all-region and all-league.
Another key returnee is junior defender Evan Annis, who was second-team all-league a year ago.
Backenstoe has taken over in goal for 2017 graduate Archie West, who had 151 saves last season.
Also back are seniors Colson Barnett (defender), Max Chapin (midfielder), Owen Connolly (defender), Jarad DiPonio (midfielder), Brady Leiendecker (defender), Connor Lucy (midfielder), Weston Martone (defender), Nick Sabo (midfielder), Logan Sauer (midfielder), Davis Sell (defender) and Kole VanHon-enstein (defender), juniors Hayden Fetty (midfielder), Kalib O'Connor (midfielder) and Matt Ryan (midfielder) and sophomores Adam Gilligan (defender), Kirk Myers (midfielder), Trent Nucce- telli (attacker), Rishi Patel (goalie) and Andrew Woollard (defender).
Rounding out the team are seniors Tanner Griffith (attacker/midfielder) and Nick Kozman (defender/midfielder), juniors Brennan Connolly (defender) and Cullen Smith (midfielder), sophomores Jackson Carter (midfielder), Tyler Nulph (defender/midfielder), Drew Sauer (midfielder) and Chase Williams (defender) and freshmen Ryan Koenig (defender), Dominic Trager (midfielder/defender) and Hayden Van Vleet (midfielder).
"Our guys practice hard and that's the biggest key for us," Beasley said. "We have a lot of guys who can play lacrosse. We have 30-some guys that are dressing for varsity and almost 60 guys in the program. We added almost 20 guys in the program this year."
Girls lacrosse team looking to fill void
The girls lacrosse team was hit hard by graduation, but fifth-year coach Chad Smock is optimistic his team will respond.
The Wildcats, who played a scrimmage, held practices and participated in a clinic during spring break March 19-23 in Orlando, Florida, open the season Thursday, March 29, at home against Bexley.
"We do this trip every other year," Smock said. "This is our third time doing it and it's awesome for team bonding. The girls get to hang out together and, for a lot of them, this is the first time they've been away from their parents on a trip, so it helps them grow up and get a little more independence."
Last season, Davidson finished 6-11 overall and went 2-4 in the OCC-Central to place fifth, behind champion UA (6-0). The Wildcats begin league play April 5 at home against Coffman.
Davidson lost eight starters to graduation, but returns a solid group, led by seniors Kelley Blevins (attacker), Juliana Burdette (defender), McKenna Cowman (attacker), Paige Martin (midfielder) and Kelsey Rader (attacker).
Sophomore Taylor Monturo is the starting goalie.
"Taylor is awesome," Smock said. "Colleges are already asking about her."
Also back are juniors Audrey Clifford (attacker), Taylor Hsu-King (attacker), Quinn Kazmerzak (attacker) and Nora Van Vleet (defender) and sophomore Sally Sell (midfielder).
Rounding out the team are sophomores Macy Boyuk (midfielder), Claire Courter (defender), Riley Ries (midfielder) and Kylie Smith (attacker) and freshmen Leah Craft (midfielder), Sadie Davis (defender) and Mattie Musser (defender).
Davis is the daughter of Ohio Machine coach Bear Davis, who is serving as a volunteer assistant for the Wildcats this season.
Among the 2017 graduates was midfielder Lauren Wehner, who had 60 goals last season and was named first-team all-region and honorable mention all-league. She now is playing for the University of Hartford.
March 17 -- Olentangy in Ohio Machine High School Showcase at Fortress Obetz
March 24 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
March 27 -- vs. Westerville North
March 29 -- at New Albany
April 3 -- at Olentangy Orange
*April 5 -- at Dublin Coffman
*April 9 -- vs. Gahanna
*April 12 -- at Pickerington Central
*April 17 -- at Pickerington North
April 19 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*April 24 -- vs. Upper Arlington
*April 26 -- at Newark
April 27 -- at Westerville Central
*April 30 -- vs. Marysville
May 2 -- vs. DeSales
May 4 -- vs. Bradley
May 8 -- at Thomas Worthington
May 11 -- at Darby
March 29 -- vs. Bexley
*April 5 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
April 9 -- at Chillicothe
*April 10 -- at Gahanna
*April 12 -- vs. Pickerington Central
*April 17 -- vs. Pickerington North
April 19 -- vs. Darby
*April 23 -- at Upper Arlington
April 25 -- vs. Bradley
April 26 -- at Centennial
*May 1 -- at Marysville
May 3 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
May 7 -- at Bellbrook
May 10 -- vs. Whetstone
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson baseball, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 31 -- Home vs. Olentangy Liberty
*April 2 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
April 3 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto
*April 4 -- At Coffman
March 29 -- Home vs. Liberty
March 31 -- Home vs. Darby and Watkins Memorial
April 4 -- Home vs. Bradley
April 2 -- At Darby
April 3 -- At Olentangy Orange
TRACK & FIELD
March 31 -- Wildcat Premier at home
April 3 -- Home vs. Westerville South
March 30 -- Home vs. Olentangy
April 3 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg