A winner of 300 games for five programs as well as state championships in 1995 and 2011 at DeSales, Gahanna Lincoln High School girls soccer coach Bob McGee still finds it challenging to discern the strengths and weaknesses of his players during his first season with a new team.

A winner of 300 games for five programs as well as state championships in 1995 and 2011 at DeSales, Gahanna Lincoln High School girls soccer coach Bob McGee still finds it challenging to discern the strengths and weaknesses of his players during his first season with a new team.

One thing that's easy for him to notice is when a team has a drive to compete, and he sees that in his latest coaching endeavor.

McGee, who has a career record of 300-63-41 and replaced Natasha Churches in the offseason, has 10 seniors and numerous underclassmen who he believes are worthy of being on the field this fall.

Gahanna, which went 11-4-3 overall and reached a Division I district semifinal last fall, opens Friday, Aug. 19, at home against Athens.

"The majority of our seniors will be able to give us good minutes, but we have a competitive environment," McGee said. "We've got a lot of experience but also a lot of youthful players who are trying to make a name for themselves. The kids know they have to really challenge each other. Everybody has a clean slate and everything is based on talent and work ethic."

The top returnees are seniors Morgan Marquez (center back) and Alison Smitley (midfielder) and juniors Mia Dragich (midfielder), Kaylee Hensley (goalkeeper) and Molly Rose (center midfielder).

Smitley was first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division last season and Hensley, Marquez and Rose all made the second team as Gahanna went 5-1-1 to tie Grove City for second behind Pickerington North (6-0-1).

The other seniors are Annie Alkhimovitch (goalie), Carly Desalvo-Sexton (goalie), Raleigh Flanagan (outside midfielder), Callie List (midfielder), Claire Motsinger (outside midfielder), Emily Sloan (midfielder), Lindsay Stamas (defender/midfielder) and Anna Wengerter (outside midfielder).

Madison Hansen (center back), Jayda Parker (defender), Erin Patterson (outside back), Stephanie Shirey (defender/midfielder) and Kailey Stanisovski (outside midfielder/forward) round out the junior class.

Also on the team are sophomore Mallory Beach (forward) and freshmen Peyton Marquez (outside back), Taylor Molli (position to be determined) and Katie Stafford (forward).

The biggest loss from the 2016 senior class was Remi Eades, who had 22 goals and 11 assists and now is playing for Ohio University.

Junior defender Allison Groves did not return.

Opportunities abound for boys soccer team

What can be heard throughout the boys soccer program year after year are goals such as winning a league title and contending for a Division I district championship.

That has not changed this fall, even though it could be easy for that sort of talk to dissipate.

The Lions lost 17 seniors from last year's team that reached a regional semifinal and went 7-0 in the OCC-Ohio to win at least a share of its 12th consecutive league championship.

Of the 61 goals that Gahanna scored last year, only four were scored by players who were not seniors.

Talent still abounds, according to coach Matt Kovach, albeit unproven talent at the varsity level.

Gahanna opens Saturday, Aug. 20, at Perrysburg.

"From a program perspective, our goals remain the same even though we have a little less experience," Kovach said. "We want to win the OCC and compete for a district championship regardless of our experience. We're going to have to learn on the job a little bit, but the one thing we can control is our effort. They all have the physical skills to be here."

The top returnee is senior Evan Kokales, who will lead the midfield after being a key player last season.

Senior Trevor Smith served as the backup goalie last season and takes over the starting role.

Also back are juniors Sam Polonia (attacking midfielder) and Cole Tysinger (outside midfielder).

The other seniors on the team are Johnny Ayres (defender), Michael Grgurich (midfielder/forward), Andrew Olvera (midfielder) and Kevin Opoku (defender).

Also in the junior class are Imad Faqih (defender), Jordan Foulke (defender), Matt Rudesill (midfielder), Seth Smith (defender), Ryan Taylor (goalkeeper) and Harley Wheaton (midfielder/defender).

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Logan McDonald (midfielder), Javin Singh (midfielder) and Harrison Smith (midfielder) and freshmen Noah Erick (midfielder/defender), Josh Gates (forward) and Jarrett Lukacsko (midfielder).

The Lions went 16-4 overall last fall and lost a senior class that was led by Cole Popelas, the OCC-Ohio Player of the Year, as well as first-team all-league selections Chad Barrick and Nick Christoff.

Lukacsko's brother, Jace Lukacsko, also was among the group.

Strong trio to lead boys golf team

Knowing they were losing four key players, including three of their top five, to graduation had a positive effect on the focus of the boys golf team's returning players during the offseason.

"All of our returning players were well aware (of the players we were losing) and have come into this season with a lot of tournament experience over the summer," said Judy Ratzenberger, who co-coaches the team with Lori Scott. "They're all demonstrating their improved scoring and (have been) working hard on the most important mental aspects of the game. We have outstanding leadership in our returning lettermen."

The Lions opened Aug. 5 by placing fifth (323) in the 18-team Mike Nesselroad Invitational at Oakhaven behind champion Bexley (306) as two of the team's three returnees, junior Jake Simone (77) and senior Ethan Nix (78), led the way.

Also competing were three players new to varsity in sophomores Drew Bailey and Michael Hahn and freshman Dylan Errington.

The other key returnee is senior A.J. Overstreet.

Sophomores Drew Henry and Sam Moore also are looking to contribute.

Gahanna, which went 24-4 in the OCC-Ohio to finish second behind Pickerington North (28-0) last season, opened league action Aug. 9 at Apple Valley by finishing third (344) behind North (316) and Grove City (325) and ahead of Reynoldsburg (360), Pickerington Central (387) and Lancaster (405).

The biggest loss to graduation was Alex Vegh. He was first-team all-league, was co-medalist in the Division I sectional at Turnberry with a 69 and shot 78 at district to miss advancing to state by two strokes. He also set the program record for 18-hole average (75.04) and is playing for Austin Peay.

Mike Kittel and Kyle Pottorf were the other players lost to graduation who competed at sectional, as the Lions finished fifth to miss advancing to district as a team by one spot.

"Coach Scott and I have a very positive outlook for this season," Ratzenberger said. "Our athletes are very coachable, our parents are supportive and all our players work hard and love the game of golf."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 5 -- Mike Nesselroad Invitational at Oakhaven

Aug. 7 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry

Aug. 9 -- OCC-Ohio at Apple Valley

Aug. 10 -- Granville at Little Turtle

Aug. 11 -- New Albany Invitational at New Albany Links

Aug. 12 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Little Turtle

Aug. 13 -- Hilliard Davidson at Golf Club of Dublin

Aug. 15 -- OCC-Ohio at Darby Creek

Aug. 17 -- Columbus Academy at Little Turtle

Aug. 24 -- Big Walnut at Little Turtle

Aug. 27 -- Reynoldsburg at Blacklick Woods

Aug. 31 -- OCC-Ohio at Turnberry

Sept. 12 -- OCC Shootout at Moundbuilders

Sept. 14 -- OCC-Ohio at Clover Valley

Sept. 17 -- Rodney Butt Classic at Denison Golf Club at Granville

Sept. 22 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Little Turtle

Sept. 24 -- Pickerington Central Invitational at Turnberry

Sept. 26 -- Upper Arlington Invitational at The Virtues

Sept. 27 -- Reynoldsburg at Little Turtle

Oct. 1 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 20 -- at Perrysburg

Aug. 23 -- at Dublin Coffman

Aug. 25 -- vs. Upper Arlington

Aug. 30 -- vs. Westerville South

Sept. 1 -- vs. Westerville Central

Sept. 3 -- at Dublin Jerome

Sept. 6 -- at Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 10 -- at Canal Winchester

*Sept. 13 -- at Reynoldsburg

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Pickerington North

Sept. 22 -- vs. New Albany

*Sept. 27 -- at Grove City

Sept. 29 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

Oct. 4 -- vs. Olentangy

*Oct. 6 -- at Lancaster

*Oct. 13 -- vs. Pickerington Central

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 19 -- vs. Athens

Aug. 23 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Aug. 25 -- at Granville

Aug. 30 -- at Westerville South

Sept. 1 -- at Westerville Central

Sept. 6 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

Sept. 8 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Reynoldsburg

Sept. 15 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Sept. 20 -- at Pickerington North

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Grove City

Sept. 29 -- at Hilliard Bradley

Oct. 4 -- at Dublin Coffman

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Lancaster

*Oct. 13 -- at Pickerington Central

Oct. 15 -- vs. Watkins Memorial

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln girls golf, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 20 -- Midwest Classic at Skyland Pines

Aug. 24 -- Marysville and Olentangy Liberty at Bent Tree

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Westerville South in opener

Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley

Aug. 23 -- At Liberty

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 23 -- Home vs. Westerville South in opener