After celebrating a Division I district title a year ago, the Westerville South High School boys soccer team is looking for more this season.
The Wildcats are motivated to compete for OCC-Buckeye Division and district championships.
"Last year was last year. We're really focused on this year," senior midfielder/forward Truman Hutchinson said. "This is a different team -- this is a different season -- and we're ready to prove that we can get to last year, but last year is in the past."
The Wildcats, who were 1-2 before playing Reynoldsburg on Aug. 28, open league play Sept. 13 at Olentangy. South finished 11-5-4 overall last season, including 2-2-1 in the OCC-Buckeye to place third behind champion Olentangy Liberty (4-0-1).
"We want to get better and we have to work on finishing," said coach Wynleux Henderson, who is in his third season. "There are still some things that we're working on. Right now we're working on finding their identity. ... We're a completely different team than we were last year, so if they're hanging their hats on that, we're going to have some rude-awakening games."
The Wildcats also have their annual rivalry games with Westerville North on Oct. 2 and Westerville Central on Oct. 8.
After opening with a 3-0 win over Worthington Christian on Aug. 17, South lost to Hilliard Darby 1-0 on Aug. 21 and St. Charles 2-0 on Aug. 23. Henderson coached at Darby for three seasons, including serving as head coach in 2015.
The Wildcats return a solid group led by senior goalkeeper Russell Montemarano.
"We know what it takes to get to a district championship and it's not easy," he said. "We've been there before, so it's just about us stepping up, filling in the captains' roles and playing our game. We have a different team. We have to figure out a way that works to get us far in the tournament, but I also know we have the components to get as far as we want."
South defeated Liberty 2-1 in a shootout for the district title before losing to Dublin Jerome 4-2 in a regional semifinal.
Also back is senior midfielder Desmond Williams, who was named second-team all-league last season.
Other returnees are seniors Brendan Garcia (defen-der/midfielder/forward), Dylan Gary (defender/midfielder/forward), Ollie Jones (defen-der/midfielder/forward), Desmond Koranteng (defen-der/midfielder/forward), Jack Lovell (defender/midfielder), Reece Marcelain (defen-der/midfielder/forward), Chip McGrew (defender/mid-fielder/forward), Wesley Rancher (midfielder/forward) and Asher Rose (goalie) and sophomore Nick Lovell (midfielder/forward).
Other players are seniors C.J. Esparza (midfielder/forward) and Alejandro Gomez (midfielder/forward), juniors Aidan Braxton (defender/midfielder), Sean Hagan (defender), William Martinez (defender/midfielder) and Anthony Vilardo (mid-fielder/forward), sophomores Tate Marcelain (midfielder/forward), Milo McNabb (defen-der/midfielder) and Thomas Stathulis (defender/midfielder) and freshman Henry Hutchinson (midfielder).
South lost several key players to graduation, including midfielder Malani Lungu, who was first-team all-district and all-league and second-team all-state.
"We don't center our goals around winning," Henderson said. "We just try to focus on the process as much as possible and hope that all the little things result into winning (by) just doing the little things right day in and day out."
Girls soccer team features experience
Having lost no players to graduation, the girls soccer team features depth and experience throughout its lineup.
The Wildcats should be led by seniors Delanie Daugherty (defender), Christina Himes (defender), Grace Livingston (midfielder), Allison Ricker (midfielder) and Jenna Villacres (goalie). All are in their fourth season with the program.
Villacres has committed to Murray State.
South was 0-2-1 before playing Reynoldsburg on Aug. 28 and opens OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 13 against Olentangy. Last season, the Wildcats finished 5-8-4 overall and went 1-3-1 in the league to tie Central for fifth behind champion Olentangy Orange (4-1).
"We're going to try to do our best in the OCC this year and see what we have because some of the ladies have played for me for four years on varsity," fifth-year coach Mark Wise said.
Also back is senior forward Deja Edwards, who scored in a 1-all tie against Worthington Christian on Aug. 17. Last season, she scored a team-high 14 goals and was second-team all-league.
Other returnees are seniors Meghan Bame (defender), Claire Guinan (midfielder) and Anisa Thaci (midfielder) and juniors Kayla Kotik (midfielder), Mae Riggs (midfielder), Emma Secrest (midfielder) and Samantha Varney (defender).
Also looking to contribute are juniors Ruthie Curry (midfielder) and Savannah Roush (defender) and freshman goalie Trinity Gonzalez.
"It's been a building time, a challenge," Wise said of his tenure at South. "I'm really enjoying the coaching. We have quality players both on our varsity and our j.v. programs. ... They're a great punch of players, good athletes, they work hard (and are) coachable. I couldn't want any more as a coach."
Girls volleyball team seeking improvement
Girls volleyball coach Veronica Brownlee entered her second season hoping her team can improve on last year's 7-17 record.
South was 0-3 before playing Centennial on Aug. 27. The Wildcats begin OCC-Buckeye play Tuesday, Sept. 4, at Olentangy.
Last season, South went 1-9 in the league to tie North for fifth behind co-champions Liberty and Orange (both 9-1).
"We just have to get better and compete every game," Brownlee said. "We want to be respected as a competitor and that's what I focus on. ... The point is to rebuild the program and it's happening and I'm proud of that."
Senior setter Peyton Guice had a team-high 100 assists last season. Also back are seniors Maria Hays (outside hitter), Jaylen Berdin (right-side hitter) and Anyssa Jones (outside hitter) and junior Melanie Kowalski (right-side hitter).
Junior middle hitter Promise Winston is a transfer from Gahanna.
Other players are seniors Itzia Centeno (defensive specialist) and Hannah Holbrook (libero) and junior Josephine Appiah (middle hitter).
South will play this season without 6-foot-2 junior middle hitter Gabby Hutcherson, who has decided to focus on basketball, according to Brownlee.
Aug. 17 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Aug. 21 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Aug. 23 -- vs. St. Charles
Aug. 28 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Aug. 30 -- at Columbus Academy
Sept. 4 -- at Upper Arlington
Sept. 6 -- vs. Pickerington Central
Sept. 11 -- vs. Marysville
*Sept. 13 -- at Olentangy
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 27 -- at Westland
*Oct. 2 -- at Westerville North
Oct. 4 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Oct. 8 -- vs. Westerville Central
Oct. 11 -- at Pickerington North
Aug. 17 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Aug. 21 -- at Hilliard Darby
Aug. 23 -- at Gahanna
Aug. 28 -- at Reynoldsburg
Aug. 30 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Sept. 4 -- vs. Upper Arlington
Sept. 11 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Olentangy
*Sept. 20 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 22 -- at Buckeye Valley
*Sept. 25 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 27 -- vs. Hartley
*Oct. 1 -- vs. Westerville North
Oct. 4 -- vs. Central Crossing
*Oct. 9 -- at Westerville Central
Oct. 11 -- vs. Newark
Aug. 21 -- at Gahanna
Aug. 22 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Aug. 23 -- vs. Pickerington Central
Aug. 27 -- at Centennial
Aug. 28 -- vs. Reynoldsburg
Aug. 30- vs. Whitehall
*Sept. 4 -- at Olentangy
*Sept. 6 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
Sept. 11 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 12 -- at Big Walnut
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 18 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 20 -- at Westerville North
Sept. 22 -- vs. Newark
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy
*Oct. 2 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*Oct. 4 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Westerville North
*Oct. 11 -- at Westerville Central
Below are the coming schedules for the South cross country, boys golf, girls golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 1 -- Westerville North Classic
Sept. 1 -- Bob Darwin Memorial Invitational at Westchester
Sept. 4 -- Delaware and Olentangy Berlin at Bent Tree
*Sept. 4 -- At North