When the Hilliard Darby High School girls soccer team met at the end of last school year, members of the 2019 senior class developed a theme for the coming season: Unfinished business.
After winning the program's first district title a year ago, the Panthers are hoping to advance even further in the postseason this season.
Darby reached a Division I regional semifinal last season, losing to Olentangy Liberty 3-2 to finish 13-4-3 overall.
"We thought about what we wanted the motto to be this year and we just decided on that because it was something where we could say, 'Focus on each game at the time, but look at the main goal at the end,'" senior midfielder Sophia Roberts said. "We're not done here. We still have more to do and more to show everybody."
Having returned 13 players, including eight starters, Darby appears ready to challenge for its goals. The Panthers are off to a good start, as they were 3-0 before opening OCC-Cardinal Division play Aug. 28 against Delaware.
"The girls' expectations are they want to go further (in the postseason) than (last year)," fourth-year coach Dan Brady said. "It's just projecting to them and giving them an understanding what it takes, but these kids do have what it takes to reach the end."
Among the returning starters are seniors Emily Schneck (goalkeeper), Cassidy Webber (defender) and Allison Williams (midfielder), each of whom was second-team all-league last season.
Other returning starters are Roberts, seniors Aaliyah Brietic (midfielder) and Natalie Brown (defender) and juniors Zayna Hampton (defender) and Naomi Walters (midfielder).
Also back are seniors Abbey Spencer (midfielder) and Caitlyn Spencer (midfielder), juniors Teddi Coe (defender) and Carli Rigel (midfielder) and sophomore Maddy Leone (forward).
Rounding out the team are juniors Taylor Mahaffey (defender), Lily Reese (midfielder) and Briana Turner (goalie), sophomore Mackenzie Hessick (midfielder) and freshman Sydney Thomas (midfielder).
Last season, the Panthers went 5-1 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish second behind Jerome (5-0-1). The teams meet Sept. 20 at Jerome.
"The last two years, Jerome beat us by one goal each year, so coming in second in our division by one goal leaves a taste and it's not a good taste," Brady said. "That's one of our big goals this year: beat Jerome. Darby has never beaten Jerome.
"I look for this to be a good season for us as long as we stay healthy."
Boys soccer team looks to defend title
The boys soccer team is looking to build on its first district title.
The Panthers defeated Marysville 1-0 in a Division I district final last season before losing to Dublin Coffman 5-1 in a regional semifinal to finish 10-5-6 overall.
"We mention it," third-year coach Kyle Reichle said of the district title. "We have a lot of guys who were on that team last year. We lost six seniors, so we have 14 returners from last year. It's something that we cherish and we enjoy, but I always remind them that your past accomplishments are not going to do anything for you this year. You can't rest on those laurels."
Darby was 2-0 before opening OCC-Cardinal play Aug. 28 against Delaware. The Panthers defeated Westerville South 1-0 in their opener Aug. 21 and beat Westerville North 3-2 on Aug. 23.
"We had a good start to the season, so I told them you have to continue what we're doing," Reichle said.
Among the returnees is senior defender Dan Djelmis, who was named second-team all-league last season.
Also back are seniors Sid Dasaraju (midfielder), Nick Hermosilla (goalie), Jackson Janetski (midfielder), Matt Mills (midfielder), Aaron Muldrow (defender), Matthew Toplikar (defender) and Matt Turner (defender), juniors Trevor Burke (midfielder), Alexis Delarosa (midfielder) and Ethan Hessick (midfielder) and sophomores Zach Jasper (forward), Colin Walters (forward) and Brian Watkins (goalie).
Rounding out the team are juniors Griffin Csiszarik (defender), Luke Lassiter (forward), Brandon Roberts (forward) and Tristan Schlarman (defender), sophomore Moses Jawo (forward) and freshman Wassim Metatla (forward).
Reichle faced a personal battle during the offseason, as he was diagnosed with lymphoma in late December and subsequently underwent six rounds of chemotherapy treatments.
"I beat it. I'm in remission, so it's back to normal life now," he said. "All is good."
Darby went 2-2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to place fifth behind champion Jerome (5-0-1).
"We have a strong league top to bottom," Reichle said. "A lot of teams in our league last year made it pretty far in the (district) tournament. We really don't have an easy league game. It's always a battle, especially with Jerome."
Reichle said his players also are looking forward to their game against Davidson on Thursday, Aug. 30, and their contest against Bradley on Oct. 9.
"The boys team has never beaten Davidson, so we're looking to make a little bit of history," Reichle said.
Aug. 21 -- at Westerville South
Aug. 23 -- at Westerville North
*Aug. 28 -- vs. Delaware
Aug. 30 -- at Davidson
*Sept. 4 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 6 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 11 -- at Olentangy
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 18 -- vs. Big Walnut
*Sept. 20- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 25 -- at Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 27 -- vs. Grove City
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Oct. 4 -- vs. St. Charles
*Oct. 9 -- at Bradley
Oct. 11 -- vs. Marysville
Aug. 17 -- at DeSales
Aug. 21 -- vs. Westerville South
Aug. 23 -- vs. Westerville North
*Aug. 28 -- at Delaware
Aug. 30 -- vs. Davidson
Sept. 1 -- vs. Watterson
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 11 -- vs. Olentangy
*Sept. 13 -- at Dublin Scioto
Sept. 18 -- at Big Walnut
*Sept. 20 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 27 -- at Grove City
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Bradley
Oct. 11 -- at Marysville
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby cross country, boys golf, girls golf, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 1 -- Asics Hot Summer Bash at Davidson
Aug. 30 -- Dublin Scioto at Darby Creek
Sept. 5 -- Davidson at Heritage
Aug. 30 -- OCC-Cardinal at Cooks Creek
Sept. 5 -- OCC-Cardinal at Mentel Memorial
*Aug. 30 -- At Olentangy Berlin
*Sept. 4 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
Sept. 4 -- At Berlin