Despite the loss of its starting defensive unit to graduation, the goals remain the same for the Westerville Central High School boys soccer team.

Despite the loss of its starting defensive unit to graduation, the goals remain the same for the Westerville Central High School boys soccer team.

The Warhawks expect to contend for a title in the new OCC-Buckeye Division and also compete for a Division I district championship.

"Our goal every year is to contend for an OCC title then a district title," said coach Dave Pence, who is in his 14th season. "If you win a Central District championship, you have a chance to go on further."

The Warhawks won district titles in 2007 and 2010 and have played in five other district finals. Last season, they finished 9-6-4 overall with a 1-0 overtime loss to St. Charles in a district semifinal.

The Warhawks, who are seeking their fifth consecutive winning season, went 3-2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal last season to finish third behind Dublin Jerome (6-0-1) and Westerville North (4-2-1).

North and Westerville South will join Central in the OCC-Buckeye with Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty and Olentangy Orange.

The Warhawks lost to Liberty 1-0 in a 2014 district final.

Central opens Friday, Aug. 19, at home against Dublin Scioto and begins league play Sept. 13 at home against North.

The revamped defense is most evident in goal as sophomores Jacob Borcila and David Chambers are competing for the starting goalkeeper position in place of 2016 graduate Zane Hamoui, who was one of seven seniors a year ago.

"We need good goal play and they're both good," Pence said of Borcila and Chambers. "It's a great position for a coach to be in to have two good keepers battling for a starting spot."

Among defenders, juniors Jordan Klapper, Nick Pence and Sam Slocum and sophomore Jonathan Chambers are looking to fill the void left by graduation.

Key graduation losses include Jacob Gates (second-team all-league) and Cole Stephenson (honorable mention all-league).

"Our focus this year is replacing our defense," coach Pence said.

Another big loss to graduation was midfielder Tyler Stills, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district and is playing at Capital University.

The top returnee is junior forward Tyler Arnold, who was first-team all-league and third-team all-district last season.

Other returning starters are seniors Bradley Annis (forward), Nick Brown (forward), Nick Neville (midfielder) and Andrew James (midfielder).

Annis and Stills each scored nine goals last season.

Neville praised the team's chemistry.

"This year it's all about the team," he said. We have each other's backs all the time. Chemistry is one of the biggest things for us this year."

Also back are seniors Aiden Minton (midfielder) and Patrick Zimmerer (midfielder) and sophomore Blake Barna (midfielder).

Rounding out the team are freshmen Chris Boonthawesuk (forward), Aaron Milliren (midfielder), Michael Nguyen (midfielder) and Alex Perrini (midfielder).

Girls soccer team loaded with experience

With 17 returning players, the girls soccer team expects to contend for league and district titles.

The Warhawks finished 8-6-5 overall last season, losing to Dublin Coffman 1-0 in a Division I district semifinal.

Although second-year coach Bobby Weimer was pleased with the record, he said the team needs to find a way to turn the ties into victories.

"I thought we made a lot of progress from the beginning of the year to the end," Weimer said. "We had a lot of trouble scoring goals, so we were probably a better team than our record indicated. We have to learn to win close games. We have to learn to beat high quality teams if we want to be a high quality team."

The Warhawks open Saturday, Aug. 20, at home against Pickerington North and kick off OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 12 at Westerville North.

"The division is loaded," Weimer said. "Liberty, Orange, Olentangy, all of them have a lot of players coming back and they were all pretty good last year. North should be good. South had a lot of young kids last year that are going to be (better)."

Senior defender/midfielder Kennedy Wells was first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season, and senior defender/forward Madyson Burtner was first-team all-league.

"We're more experienced this year and we know how coach wants us to play," Wells said. "We're all together again, which helps. We definitely have better chemistry this year. We know how each other plays."

Also back are senior forward Megan McMenemy (second-team all-league), junior goalie Arianna Kellum (special mention all-league) and senior defender Jackie Rothney (honorable mention all-league).

Other returnees are seniors Sarah Hagglund (defender/midfielder), Quinn Libby (midfielder/forward), Allison South (midfielder) and Lexi Todd (forward), juniors Kayla Dennewitz (midfielder), Sydney Kapral (defender), Toni Kuhns (midfielder), Kristen Nguyen (midfielder), Madison Seabury (midfielder), Brianna Smith (defender) and Leah Wunsch (midfielder/forward) and sophomore Malia White (midfielder/forward).

Other players are senior Emma Dyer (midfielder/forward), sophomore Payton McCarthy (goalie) and freshman Nya Olmsted (mid-fielder/defender).

Dyer played for Central as a sophomore before attending a private school in New Hampshire last year.

The Warhawks lost only one player to graduation in defender Claire Riccobono.

Central went 2-2-3 in the OCC-Cardinal to tie North for fourth behind champion Jerome (6-0-1).

"We were competitive with teams last year," Weimer said. "For us, it's getting over the hump. Are we going to be satisfied with being competitive, or are we going to go out and win?"

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 19 -- vs. Dublin Scioto

Aug. 23 -- at Delaware

Aug. 25 -- vs. St. Charles

Aug. 30 -- vs. Upper Arlington

Sept. 1 -- at Gahanna

Sept. 6 -- at Big Walnut

Sept. 8 -- at Central Crossing

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Westerville North

Sept. 15 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 20 -- at Olentangy Orange

Sept. 22 -- vs. Grove City

*Sept. 27 -- at Olentangy

Sept. 29 -- vs. New Albany

Oct. 4 -- vs. Dublin Jerome

*Oct. 8 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty

*Oct. 13 -- at Westerville South

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 20 -- vs. Pickerington North

Aug. 23 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

Aug. 25 -- at Delaware

Aug. 30 -- at Upper Arlington

Sept. 1 -- vs. Gahanna

Sept. 6 -- vs. Big Walnut

Sept. 8 -- at Hilliard Bradley

*Sept. 12 -- at Westerville North

Sept. 15 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

Sept. 25 -- vs. Ontario

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Olentangy

Sept. 29 -- at New Albany

Oct. 4 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Oct. 6 -- at Olentangy Liberty

*Oct. 12 -- vs. Westerville South

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys golf, girls golf, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 20 -- Cincinnati Moeller Invitational at Walden Ponds

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 18 -- Grove City at Oakhurst

Aug. 23 -- Westerville North at Royal American

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 18 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

Aug. 23 -- At Big Walnut

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 23 -- Home vs. UA