With a senior class that featured several players who have gone on to compete collegiately, the Olentangy Liberty High School girls soccer team overcame a slow start last year to reach a Division I state semifinal for the second time in three seasons.
The formula for success won't necessarily be the same this fall, but new coach Hillary Carter is optimistic about what she has to work with.
There are seven seniors as well as several others who gained experience last season as Liberty went 13-6-3.
"The personalities are different and there are different strengths," said Carter, who was the varsity assistant the past two seasons under former coach Kristen McMahon. "Last year we had Olivia Sensky who provided a great deal of leadership, and we're not asking anybody to be the next Olivia Sensky, but how can we fill the role that she left in a way that's most productive for this team."
Liberty opened by tying Dublin Coffman at 1 on Aug. 17. It then beat Hilliard Bradley 1-0 on Aug. 21 and lost to Oregon Clay 2-1 on Aug. 25.
Senior Riley Cartwright has returned at goalkeeper after making 101 saves last fall.
Seniors Laura Bichsel (forward/defender), Mara Follmer (defender/midfielder), Gia Gaetano (midfielder), Jasmine Hauser (defender/midfielder) and Lyndsey Kijowski (midfielder), juniors Caitlin Curmode (defender), Elise Koshan (midfielder), Emma Lindsey (midfielder/forward) and Addi Moeller (defender/midfielder) and sophomores Rachel Davidson (forward) and Quinn Casey (midfielder) all were contributors last season.
Bichsel finished with five goals and two assists, and Kijowski and Gaetano both had four goals and two assists.
Also on the team are senior Emily Milisavljevich (defen-der/midfielder), juniors Bess Mosier (midfielder), Maddie Kelley (goalie) and Abigail Towne (defender/midfielder) and sophomores Nora Gilger (forward) and Victoria Susi (defender/midfielder).
Sensky, who was second-team all-state, is now at Ohio University along with 2018 graduate Abby Townsend. Also playing collegiately from the 2018 senior class are Abby Jones (Murray State) and Sydney Weaver (Wittenberg).
"We have great upperclassmen and leadership from our returners," Carter said. "They've been there and done that and know what it is and it's really good for them to be able to impart that wisdom on the ones who haven't been here yet."
Volleyball team enjoying depth
The girls volleyball team followed an appearance in the Division I regional in 2015 with a second consecutive district runner-up finish last fall.
Figuring out how to utilize their depth could be the key for the Patriots to get back to that level this season.
Setter Maddie Fogg, who was OCC-Buckeye Division Player of the Year last season and is now competing for Toledo, was among the players lost to graduation after Liberty finished 23-2 overall.
Junior outside hitter/defensive specialist Claranne Fechter, who was first-team all-league, and senior middle hitter Abby Erickson, who was special mention all-league, are among a large group of returnees who contributed last season.
"We have five seniors this year, with seven juniors and three sophomores, so we're carrying 15 on our roster," 16th-year coach Jen Chapman said. "We've got pretty good depth. We've had (most of our roster) getting in and have kind of gone that route to create a competitive practice environment and to kind of push each other to get better."
Sophomore Logan Flaugh, who filled in during parts of the postseason at setter when Fogg was injured, has taken over the role full time.
Senior Grace Clark and juniors Sarah Rausch and Raegan Rosi join Fechter as outside hitters and senior Taylor Karlo is another at middle hitter.
Senior Maile Steckelberg is at libero, with junior Sydney Novy and sophomore Sydney Reed also filling key roles on defense.
Others on the team are senior Camryn Jefferson (outside hitter), juniors Brooke Hammons (defensive specialist), Julia Gomez and Taylor Killen (middle hitter) and sophomore Ali Sebenoler (middle hitter).
Erickson is 6-foot-1 and Sebenoler is 6-0.
Liberty opened with a 25-4, 25-10, 25-12 win over Marysville on Aug. 21 and beat Gahanna 25-14, 25-12, 25-13 on Aug. 23.
The Patriots tied Orange for the league title at 9-1 last season.
"(Orange has) everybody back, Olentangy will be competitive and I think Westerville Central will surprise some teams this year," Chapman said. "Ideally we'd like to win our conference outright and get past the district finals again. I always like to bring as many kids up in tournament time so they have that environment and they're seeing what it's all about from year to year."
Boys soccer team returns deep nucleus
Second-year boys soccer coach Marc D'Auteuil couldn't wait to get started this season.
The Patriots spent time last fall being ranked No. 1 in the Division I state poll and even at the top of the national rankings but had their season end with a loss in a district final.
Several key players return from that team, which went 14-2-2 overall and won the OCC-Buckeye at 4-0-1, including junior Tyler Harris, a first-team all-league defender who is also playing forward this year, and sophomore defender Blake Collins, who was second-team all-league.
"We got to the district finals last year but we only lost two games," D'Auteuil said. "Even though a lot of the kids played substantial roles, it's a younger team. We're excited about the process and excited about going through the season. On the flip side we do return a really good amount of experience. Even the kids that we're going to be counting on to step up did play some last year."
The Patriots opened with a 2-0 win Aug. 21 at Upper Arlington and beat Gahanna 2-1 on Aug. 23.
Joining Collins in the back are seniors Ethan Blessing and Nathan Meeker, juniors Greyson Follmer and Nate Logozzo and freshman Parker Cameron. Logozzo was special mention all-league last season.
Also at forward are seniors Ash Rajmahon and Nathan Rothert and juniors Jaggar Brooker and Ludwig Conrad. Rothert had 11 goals last season and scored both goals against UA.
Junior Luke Sensky, who has club experience but is new to the program, is a key center midfielder along with junior Liam Garcia and sophomore Jack Cruise. Junior Theren Handlon is at goalie along with senior Kevin Cummins.
Also on the team are senior midfielders Ethan Blessing, Sam Bonanno and Nick Stack.
The biggest loss to graduation was Colin McCort, a first-team all-state honoree who is playing for Marshall after totaling 16 goals and eight assists last season.
"A lot of times teams don't have enough attackers, and this year it's almost like we have a surplus, so that's a great thing to build on," D'Auteuil said. "We've been encouraged so far."
Aug. 21 -- at Upper Arlington
Aug. 23 -- vs. Gahanna
Aug. 28 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 30 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 4 -- vs. Newark
Sept. 6 -- vs. St. Charles
Sept. 8 -- at Mason
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 15 -- vs. Cincinnati Moeller
Sept. 18 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 20 -- at Westerville South
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville North
*Oct. 1 -- at Westerville Central
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Olentangy
Oct. 13 -- vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius
Aug. 17 -- vs. Coffman
Aug. 21 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Aug. 25 -- vs. Oregon Clay
Aug. 28 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 30 -- at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 1 -- at Centerville
Sept. 4 -- at Newark
*Sept. 13 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 15 -- vs. Liberty Township Lakota East
Sept. 18 -- at Granville
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Westerville South
*Sept. 25 -- at Westerville North
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Westerville Central
Oct. 4 -- vs. Gahanna
*Oct. 9 -- at Olentangy
Oct. 11 -- Watterson at Otterbein
Aug. 21 -- at Marysville
Aug. 23 -- vs. Gahanna
Aug. 28 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 30 -- vs. Newark
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 6 -- at Westerville South
Sept. 11 -- at New Albany
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Westerville North
Sept. 15 -- Worthington Kilbourne Invitational
Sept. 18 -- at Big Walnut
*Sept. 20 -- at Westerville Central
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Olentangy
*Sept. 27 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Westerville South
*Oct. 4 -- at Westerville North
Oct. 6 -- at Hilliard Darby with DeSales and Jonathan Alder
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Oct. 11 -- at Olentangy
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty cross country, girls golf, field hockey and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 1 -- Asics Hot Summer Bash at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 5 -- Gahanna and Lancaster at Jefferson
*Sept. 5 -- At Dublin Jerome
*Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 4 -- At Westerville Central