With 18 letterwinners returning from a squad that finished 9-7-1 overall last fall, the Centennial High School boys soccer team is eyeing its first City League championship since 2010.

With 18 letterwinners returning from a squad that finished 9-7-1 overall last fall, the Centennial High School boys soccer team is eyeing its first City League championship since 2010.

The Stars went 4-1 to win the City-North Division title last season, but lost to Independence 5-2 in the championship game at Mapfre Stadium.

"Our goal, as always, is to win the City League championship," fourth-year coach Scott George said. "I'm not sure there is a dominant team this year. Independence won it last year, so I'd say they're the favorite. But the North Division is always very competitive."

Centennial opened Aug. 22 against Fairbanks and begins City-North play Sept. 6 at Whetstone.

George still was tinkering with the lineup days ahead of the opener, but was certain of his personnel.

"I know who will be starting, but I'm still working on their positions because we've got some versatile guys and we want to make sure we've got the right combinations," he said. "Those decisions will be based on finding guys who can create shots and guys who can mark best on defense."

Seniors Omar Shehata and Sam Benson and junior Chris Darlington are competing at forward.

Benson and Darlington also are in the midfield mix, along with senior Alijah Coale, junior DeWayne Scott and freshman Harold Deanda.

Defensively, juniors Kitano Watkins, Luke Zimmerman and Will Zimmerman could start alongside sophomore Noah Schutte. Darlington also may play defense, and the Zimmerman brothers and Watkins could be moved to the midfield.

Junior Eugene Macarus will start in goal.

"Our greatest strength is our depth at midfield," George said. "We have numerous guys who can possess the ball and be creative with their passing. DeWayne has a high work ethic and is fundamentally sound. He has played club and is very effective at everything he does. He's also our best communicator and leader. He's like another coach out there.

"Sam is high energy (and) explosive. He's always motivated and geared for team success and Chris is by far our most versatile player. He'll do anything we need him to do. He'll play anywhere we need him and give max effort doing it."

Completing the roster are seniors Deon Goins (defender), Eduardo Munoz (midfielder) and Kameryn Wilson (forward/midfielder), junior Jabar Ibrahim (defender/midfielder), sophomores Matthew Bavu (midfielder), Max Lee (midfielder) and Alex Tierney (goalkeeper) and freshman Jeremiah Upchurch (defender).

Girls soccer team possesses depth

The girls soccer team has the depth and versatility that seventh-year coach Barb Melig enjoys seeing in her squad.

The Stars return five starters and four other letterwinners from a team that finished 5-10 overall, but went 2-1 in the City and lost to Whetstone 5-0 in the City championship game at Mapfre Stadium.

"Within the system we will be playing, all my players will be used quite regularly," Melig said. "We have the benefit of having a good supply of hard-working girls who will get quality minutes every game. The starting lineup is very interchangeable and will frequently change."

Returning starters include senior Rachel O'Leary and juniors Katie Briss and Mariah Velez in the midfield, along with sophomore forward Gwen Moran and sophomore defender Morgan Lawson.

Moran, junior Evelyn Beal and freshman Yana Napier are expected to rotate starts at forward.

There is a midfield logjam, where O'Leary, Briss and Velez will share starts with seniors Rachel Massey and Sarah Hangen and freshman Nina Zimmerman.

"Keeping fresh legs in the midfield will be key, so I expect those six will see plenty of starts with six other girls challenging for playing time and potential starts," Melig said. "It will come down to confidence and work ethic in practice."

The challenging midfielders will be senior Wahaj Ali, juniors Emily Boyer and Lauren Reesman and sophomores Noelle Harris, Stacey Leach and Danielle O'Leary.

Lawson and junior Kaylee Beyer lead the defense and are expected to receive help from senior Courtney Hines, sophomores Bella Hoffman, Maggie Roush and Hannah Wolfe and freshman Sarah Thompson. Freshman Sarah Clifton will be in goal.

"Sarah Clifton has already shown signs of being a true competitor in goal," Melig said. "She has a talent for the position already and, with focused practices and game experience, she will take her game to the next level."

The Stars opened Aug. 23 against Licking Valley and begin league play Sept. 6 at home against Whetstone.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

@Brad_ThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 22 -- at Fairbanks

Aug. 23 -- at Dublin Scioto

Aug. 30 -- at Delaware Christian

*Sept. 6 -- at Whetstone

Sept. 8 -- vs. Grandview

Sept. 10 -- at London

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Beechcroft

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Northland

Sept. 21 -- at Whitehall

*Sept. 22 -- at Columbus International

*Sept. 27 -- at Mifflin

Oct. 5 -- vs. Columbus South

Oct. 11 -- at Hartley

Oct. 13 -- at Watterson

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 23 -- at Licking Valley

Aug. 25 -- vs. Worthington Christian

Aug. 27 -- vs. Licking Heights

Aug. 29 -- at Johnstown

*Sept. 6 -- vs. Whetstone

Sept. 12 -- vs. Caledonia River Valley

*Sept. 13 -- at Briggs

Sept. 15 -- at Groveport

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Columbus International

Sept. 22 -- vs. Reynoldsburg

Sept. 27 -- at Columbus International

Sept. 29 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

*League contest

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

CROSS COUNTRY

Aug. 27 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion

BOYS GOLF

*Aug. 30 -- Independence and Columbus South at Raymond Memorial

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Independence

*Aug. 31 -- Home vs. Northland

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Aug. 25 -- At Mifflin

*Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Northland

*League contest