Coming off a season that was considered below its standards, the Hilliard Davidson High School boys soccer team is looking for a bounce back year in 2018.

The Wildcats finished 8-9-1 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Central Division last season, but hope to contend for league and district titles this fall.

"We were young last year," fifth-year coach Dan Hoover said. "They have another year of seasoning. This junior class is really special. We have a good freshmen class and some of the seniors are stepping up. We'll see."

Hoover earned his 100th career win with a 4-1 victory over visiting Canal Winchester on Aug. 23.

The Wildcats were 2-0-1 before playing Olentangy Liberty on Aug. 28. They begin OCC-Central play Sept. 13 at home against Dublin Coffman.

"We always look forward to playing the Coffmans and the Marysvilles," Hoover said. "Those conference games are the priorities of our season."

Davidson plays host to Darby on Thursday, Aug. 30, looking to win the Hilliard Cup for the second consecutive season. The award is presented to the Hilliard team that earns the most points in the three-game series.

The Wildcats opened Aug. 17 with a 1-0 win over Bradley behind a goal by senior midfielder Alex Larzelere and tied Gahanna at 2 on Aug. 21.

"We've made a couple of mistakes," junior defender Charlie Riddle said. "We let Gahanna go, (it was a) chippy game. We ended up getting out with a tie, which is OK. We have some hard challenges coming up, but we're excited for the season."

Other returnees are seniors Cameron Lilly (goalkeeper), Jacob Manken (defender), Tariq Rasul (defender), Radames Rosales (forward) and Coby Stover (midfielder), juniors Avery Book (defender), Josh Burton (forward), Sean Carrier (midfielder), Carter Ely (defender), Jackson Lightfoot (forward) and Daiki Matsouka (forward) and sophomore Lorenzo Nieves (goalie).

Nieves is a second-year starter.

"Last year was an off year," Stover said. "We definitely have a lot of returning players, which is good. It gives us an advantage over some of the other teams. If we play to our potential, we can pretty much beat any opponent."

Also looking to contribute are seniors Dominic Canestraro (midfielder), Tony Flores (forward), Caleb George (defender), Erick Goya (forward), Evan Hill (defender) and Jesus Martinez (midfielder), juniors Josh Augustine (forward), Cole Donnellon (forward) and Jacob Wells (defender) and sophomore Peter Nash (midfielder).

"We want to win a district title and see what happens after that," Hoover said. "After that, you never know what can happen."

Girls soccer team off to strong start

The girls soccer team was 3-0 before playing Liberty on Aug. 28 as it looks to improve on last season's 8-7-2 record.

Davidson defeated Bradley 2-1 on Aug. 17, DeSales 4-2 on Aug. 21 and Olentangy Orange 2-1 on Aug. 23.

"I think I've learned a little bit every year," third-year coach Heather Coonfare said. "I feel a little bit more prepared. I feel the same way teaching. You just have another year under your belt of what to expect and different circumstances. Just like the kids, I look to grow as a leader and a coach every year."

Among the returnees are junior forward Sonia Vargas (first-team all-league), senior midfielder Sydney Brown (second-team all-league), junior forward Alivia Wile (special mention all-league) and junior midfielder Aidan Everett (honorable mention all-league).

Another key returnee is senior goalie Lauren White.

"I was very lucky to walk into a program with Lauren in there, because when I walked in there three years ago, I had no idea she was a sophomore because she was so mature and graceful with the kids," Coonfare said. "I've been very blessed."

Also back are seniors Christina Gillotti (midfielder), Audrey Kaufman (defen-der), Alexandra Lenko (defender) and Sydney Ryan (forward/defender), juniors Ellie Brorein (defender/midfielder), Erin Kodger (defender), Emily Sculli (defender) and Gretta Syrett (midfielder) and sophomores Megan Harper (defender/midfielder) and Grace Royer (forward).

Rounding out the team are sophomores Kayla Stischok (midfielder) and Sydney Stover (defender/midfielder) and freshmen Audrey Gibson-Zweifel (goalie), Whitney Ho (goalie), Kate Kodger (midfielder/forward/defender), Sydney Thompson (midfielder), Khadija Seck (midfielder/forward) and Elizabeth Wile (defender/midfielder).

Davidson begins OCC-Central play Sept. 13 at home against Coffman. Last season, the Wildcats went 3-1-1 in the league to finish second behind Coffman (3-0-2).

"I believe we can be competitive in most games that we play or we should be is my hope," Coonfare said. "I'm not surprised (by our start), but it wasn't a guarantee."

Girls volleyball team features experience

With six players back, 20th-year girls volleyball coach Betty Cameron is optimistic about the season.

The Wildcats opened with a 25-15, 25-17, 25-17 win over Mansfield Madison on Aug. 18 but lost to Lancaster 25-23, 25-22, 25-23 on Aug. 21 and fell to Olentangy Orange 25-14, 25-16, 24-26, 25-13 on Aug. 23. They then went 1-2 in the Sharon M. Huesman Memorial tri-match on Aug. 25, beating Dayton Thurgood Marshall 25-9, 25-3 and losing to Darby 13-25, 25-21, 25-20 and Pickerington Central 25-22, 25-17.

Davidson, which was 2-4 before playing Olentangy Liberty on Aug. 28, begins OCC-Central play Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Coffman.

Among the returnees are senior middle hitter/outside hitter Emilee Fecht, who was first-team all-league last year, and junior right-side hitter/middle hitter India McCruter, who was honorable mention all-league.

Also back are senior Brooke Barrington (setter) and juniors Grace Fry (defensive specialist), Maria Salamony (defensive specialist) and Elyse Simensky (middle hitter).

"We have a lot of experience that should make a difference for this season," Cameron said.

Other players are senior Malia McWherter (defensive specialist), juniors Rachel Balster (setter), McKenzie Heston (defensive specialist) and Sarah Shevelow (right-side hitter), sophomores Ashley Barrington (setter) and Lindsey Buckley (outside hitter) and freshman Madelyn McMillan (outside hitter).

"(The girls) work hard and are getting along with each other," Cameron said. "They are encouraging, helpful and positive with each other."

Last season, the Wildcats finished 8-14 overall and went 7-3 in the league to tie Upper Arlington for second behind Coffman (10-0).

"It's a tough league with Dublin Coffman and Upper Arlington to watch out for," Cameron said. "Those will be the teams to beat."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 17 -- vs. Bradley

Aug. 21 -- at Gahanna

Aug. 23 -- vs. Chillicothe

Aug. 28 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Aug. 30 -- vs. Darby

Sept. 4 -- at Olentangy

Sept. 6 -- at New Albany

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 18 -- vs. Pickerington Central

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Upper Arlington

*Sept. 25 -- vs. Central Crossing

Sept. 27 -- vs. St. Charles

*Oct. 2 -- at Westland

Oct. 4 -- at Pickerington North

*Oct. 9 -- vs. Marysville

Oct. 11 -- at DeSales

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 17 -- vs. Bradley

Aug. 21 -- vs. DeSales

Aug. 23 -- at Olentangy Orange

Aug. 28 -- at Olentangy Liberty

Aug. 30 -- at Darby

Sept. 6 -- vs. Olentangy

Sept. 11 -- vs. Pickerington North

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 18- at Canal Winchester

*Sept. 20 -- at Upper Arlington

Sept. 22 -- vs. Grove City

*Sept. 25 -- at Central Crossing

*Oct. 2 -- vs. Westland

Oct. 4 -- at New Albany

*Oct. 9 -- at Marysville

Oct. 12 -- vs. Pickerington Central

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 18 -- vs. Mansfield Madison

Aug. 21 -- at Lancaster

Aug. 23 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

Aug. 25 -- vs. Darby, Pickerington Central and Dayton Thurgood Marshall in Sharon M. Huesman Memorial tri-match

Aug. 28 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Aug. 30 -- at Olentangy

*Sept. 4 -- at Dublin Coffman

*Sept. 6 -- vs. Upper Arlington

Sept. 11 -- vs. Bradley

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Central Crossing

Sept. 18 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 20 -- at Westland

*Sept. 25 -- vs. Marysville

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 29 -- at Gahanna with Big Walnut

*Oct. 2 -- at Upper Arlington

*Oct. 4 -- at Central Crossing

*Oct. 9 -- vs. Westland

*Oct. 11 -- at Marysville

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson cross country, boys golf, girls golf and girls tennis teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 1 -- Asics Hot Summer Bash at home

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 30 -- Grove City at Hickory Hills

Sept. 1 -- Pickerington North Invitational at Pine Hill

Sept. 5 -- Gahanna at Thorn Apple

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 4 -- Grove City at Oakhurst

Sept. 5 -- Centerburg at Wyandot

GIRLS TENNIS

*Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Central Crossing

*Sept. 4 -- At Westland

Sept. 5 -- At Westerville North

*League contest