The Westerville Central High School boys soccer team entered the season looking to return to its championship form of 2010.

The Westerville Central High School boys soccer team entered the season looking to return to its championship form of 2010.

Two years ago, the War-hawks reached a Division I regional semifinal before losing to Gahanna 3-2 to finish 12-6-2 overall. Last season, Central went 5-8-5 and lost to Reynoldsburg 2-0 in the second round of the district tournament after beating Groveport 3-0 in the first round.

"Our goal is the same every year," said 10th-year coach Dave Pence, whose team opened Aug. 18 with a 5-0 win over Reynoldsburg. "We want to win the OCC, we want to win a district championship and I'm a firm believer if you win a district championship in central Ohio, anything can happen."

Central returns seniors Curtis Baker (midfielder), Griffen Gordon (goalkeeper) and Aaron Smith (defender) and junior Hunter Robertson (midfielder). Gordon and Smith are team captains.

Last season, Smith was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division. Baker was second-team all-league and Robertson was special mention all-league.

"We have a good amount of experience coming back," Pence said. "We're not real deep this year, but we have some great seniors, not just skilled soccer players, but great individuals as well."

Also on the team are seniors Tyler Bertelsen (midfielder), Matt Hughes (defender), Craig Martin (defender) and Mike Reed (midfielder), juniors Matt Cisneros (goalie) and Sam Sharifi (forward), sophomores Chewy Gordon (forward), Grant Hagglund (defender), Trevor Mack (midfielder), Scott McNenny (midfielder) and Abdi Mohamed (midfielder) and freshmen Nesta Hejduk (midfielder) and Tyler Stills (midfielder).

Last season, Central went 2-2-3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to finish fourth, behind Dublin Scioto (7-0), Olentangy Liberty (5-1-1) and Dublin Jerome (4-2-1) and ahead of Westerville South (2-3-2), Westerville North (2-4-1), Olentangy (1-5-1) and Marysville (0-6-1).

As part of OCC realignment this year, Hilliard Bradley, Hilliard Darby and Worthington Kilbourne have joined the OCC-Cardinal. Liberty, which was the Division I state runner-up last season, and Marysville moved to the OCC-Central and Olentangy went to the OCC-Capital.

Central begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at home against Scioto.

"We're out here working hard," Smith said. "It's a good group of guys playing for each other. We want to beat both Westerville schools, and I think we can win (a) district (title)."

Last season, Central lost to North 2-1 and tied South at 3.

South looking to build on 2011

South is looking to build on last year, when it finished 8-6-5 overall to post its first winning season since 2006.

The Wildcats defeated Zanesville 6-0 and Dresden Tri-Valley 7-0 in the first two rounds of the Division I district tournament before losing to second-seeded Gahanna 3-0 in a district semifinal.

South, which opened Aug. 21 at Worthington Christian, begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at home against Kilbourne.

"We have a good team this year," second-year coach Aaron Linden said. "We can go as far as we want to go. We learned a lot last year and we had to learn how to win. This year we're going into the season knowing how to win a little bit and we're pretty confident. We just don't want to be overly confident this year."

South's roster includes 11 seniors in Nate Abdou (defender), Osas Akora (forward), Alpha Amara (midfielder), David Anane (midfielder), Mohamed Banow (defender/midfielder), Drew Cope (midfielder), Matt Doolittle (goalie), Henry Kunze (defender), Hunter Lyerla (defender), Scott Richard (defender) and Patrick Szymczak (defender/midfielder).

Also on the team are juniors Jackson Bandy (midfielder/forward), Josh McErlean (forward), Cameron Ferguson (defender), Ben Gannon (midfielder), Dexter McNabb (defender) and Ryan Young (midfielder) and sophomores Leland Klein (goalie) and Luke Morais (forward).

McErlean, Richard and Szymczak are team captains. McErlean was second-team all-league last year.

"We have some good senior leadership and we're excited about the year," Linden said. "We're excited about where we're headed and we're excited about our leadership."

Doolittle is expected to replace goalie Ryan McLaughlin, a 2012 graduate who was first-team all-league and all-district last season and is playing for the College of Charleston in South Carolina.

Klein also could see time in goal.

"I'm pretty excited. I think the whole team is," Richard said. "We've been working hard. We're working on defense and we're working on our offense, too. We're just trying to make it a good season."

North coach thinks team on right path

North, which finished 8-8-3 overall last season, opened with a 2-1 win over Canal Winchester on Aug. 18 and begins OCC-Cardinal play Tuesday, Aug. 28, at home against Darby.

Seeded 11th, the Warriors beat Newark 3-0 and 10th-seeded St. Charles 3-2 in double-overtime in the first two rounds of the Division I district tournament last season before losing to fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman 3-1 in a semifinal.

"We're on the right path, but there's still a lot of work to do before we take the program where it needs to be," third-year coach Mark Price said.

Among the players from a year ago who were lost to graduation are midfielder Brandin Crew, forward Ryun Braxton and defender Joey Wilkin. Crew was first-team all-league and second-team all-district, while Braxton was second-team all-league and Wilkin was special mention all-league.

The Warriors return seniors Dominic Charnier (forward), Mike Fragoulis (forward), Ross Pfeil (forward), Jacob Pulliam (midfielder) and Trey Walden (defender) and junior Jimmy Randall (defender).

Fragoulis, who was honorable mention all-league last year, and Randall are team captains.

"We're planning on doing real well this season," Pulliam said. "We just have to be able to play our game and don't let the other team make us change our style. We're always going to be that team that outworks them because we've been training real hard."

Sophomore Tristin Doone is expected to start in goal.

Also on the team are seniors Ellis Angelopoulos (defender), Sid Fragoulis (defender), Drew Hollobaugh (midfielder), Cameron Keysor (midfielder) and Pete Kraft (midfielder), juniors Jarod Brown (defender), Ryan Conner (midfielder), Ian Lybarger (defender/midfielder) and Carter McKinley (defender/midfielder), sophomores Griffin King (defender) and Joey Moler (midfielder) and freshman Matt Roldan (midfielder).

"It's early, but I have 10 seniors and I'm probably going to start eight of them," Price said. "We have a lot of senior leadership, but at the same time, we still have a lot of holes to fill from last year."