If the Upper Arlington High School boys soccer team is to ride a roster with 15 seniors to its first Division I district championship since 2008, it will do so with no returning starters.
At least, that is how first-year coach Kevin Donovan sees things.
Although the Golden Bears brought an older roster into this season, which began Aug. 18 with a 1-0 home loss to St. Charles, they are short on key contributors from last year's team that went 10-5-4 overall and 3-1-1 in the OCC-Central Division.
Junior forward Fernando Dapino came on late, scoring four of his five goals in the team's final two games, and senior defender Evan Turner is a returning honorable mention all-league selection.
"This is my first season with the team, so to be fair, no one is really a returning starter," Donovan said. "We have 15 seniors on this year's varsity roster, and some very capable underclassmen that fill out the rest of the roster spots. There is no singular focal point in our attack, which I feel is a good thing, and we have no obvious weaknesses in our defense."
UA was 0-2 before playing Westerville Central on Aug. 29.
Donovan succeeded Mic Rogers, who was 32-29-13 in four seasons.
A native of San Antonio, Donovan most recently was an assistant coach for Southwestern University's men team. He also is the Crew SC Player Development Program's director of coaching.
Donovan's wife, Michelle, is from Worthington. The family moved to central Ohio in May.
"We wanted to be near family as we raise our two kids (son Gavin and daughter Michelle)," Donovan said. "She said if I could hand select a public school coaching job in Columbus that Upper Arlington would be on the very short list. The boys job came open, I applied, and here we are."
Donovan singled out several seniors he expected to contribute, including defenders Ryan Burke and Aidan Cooper and midfielder Matt Marsh.
"Matt Marsh adds some creativity and poise in the midfield. Aidan Cooper offers some grit and leadership, as does Evan Turner," Donovan said. "Ryan Burke will be asked to share some of the goal scoring load, while also being deployed as a center back at times. ...
"I expect our guys to be defensively organized and fiercely competitive. You can make up for a lot of soccer deficiencies by being difficult to play against."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Andrew Baumgartner (defender), Joey Eubank (defender), Ashton Gaupp (goalkeeper), Nathan Hellstedt (defender), Bobby Lynch (midfielder), Noah Mitchell (midfielder), Callan Patel (midfielder), Jacoby Ryan (defender), Ameen Seck (defender), Nico Slattery (midfielder) and Adam Wade (midfielder), juniors Jeremy Boyaka (goalie), Pete Edwards (goalie), Richard Jinschek (defender), Diego Ly (midfielder) and Tristan Moore (midfielder) and sophomore Joe Cannon (defender/midfielder).
UA, which also lost to Olentangy Liberty 4-0 on Aug. 22, begins OCC-Central play Sept. 12 at Central Crossing.
The Bears fell just short of the league title last year, losing 1-0 at Dublin Coffman in the league finale for both teams to finish second behind the Shamrocks (5-0).
UA lost to Dublin Jerome 3-1 in a district semifinal, the third consecutive year the Bears' season has ended in that round of the postseason.
Girls soccer team
hoping for offense
Although the girls soccer team went just 4-9-4 overall last year, memories of a Division I district championship in 2015 still linger for fourth-year coach Chris Merrick and most of his 13 seniors.
Merrick hopes this team returns to that form, and he is optimistic that could be the case after the Bears displayed some offensive punch to start the year.
UA, which averaged only 1.9 goals per game a year ago, scored 10 goals in starting 3-0 before playing Westerville Central on Aug. 29.
"It's a good group, a very skilled group and very fast," Merrick said. "We are creating more opportunities and we've really had a focus on things inside the box. When we are inside the box, are we putting good shots on goal? Are we making the right runs? We are focused on that part because we had so many close games last year and, if we'd scored one or two more goals, we'd get a different result.
"We have a new attitude because of what we didn't accomplish last year. We had a taste in 2015 with a district title, so we are looking to get that back."
Forward Molly Morgan, who scored a team-high seven goals last year, leads a senior class that also consists of Zoe Bellot (forward), Zanovia Criss (defender), Ava d'Herete (defender), Hannah Dible (forward), Alyssa Dunsizer (midfielder), Rawlins Moore (midfielder), Abbie Morris (forward), Brenna Smith (midfielder), Brooke Smith (midfielder), Jenna Timmons (midfielder), Amanda Ventresca (defender) and Abby Wild (defender).
Rounding out the roster are juniors Jenna Poling (defender) and Sarah Poling (forward), sophomores Sydney Lape (forward/defender), Rachel Ooms (midfielder), Katerina Regules (midfielder) and Carolyn Stehle (goalie) and freshman Hailie Clark (forward).
Stehle also started in goal as a freshman.
"She's cleaned up a lot of her play," Merrick said. "She gives us a nice little comfort blanket back there. We can rely on her."
UA opened with a 4-0 win at Thomas Worthington on Aug. 18 and defeated Canal Winchester 3-1 in its home opener Aug. 22 and visiting Westerville North 3-2 on Aug. 26.
The Bears begin OCC-Central play Sept. 12 at home against Central Crossing. Last year, UA went 2-3 in the league, finishing fourth behind champion Hilliard Davidson (4-0-1), before losing to Pickerington North 4-1 in the second round of the district tournament.
New players dot
Three returning letterwinners should help lead the girls volleyball team this season, although fourth-year coach Chris Van Arsdale acknowledges his nine-player roster has its share of youth.
"We have put a lot of emphasis on having a strong team, a team that works together really well. So far, that's been our biggest strength," said Van Arsdale, whose team was 1-3 before playing Westerville North on Aug. 29. "We have players who are committed to each other and players who have been around each other for a long time. Some of them are new; we have only three returning letterwinners, so there are a lot of fresh faces in there. But they are working together really well."
Senior setter Emma Van Arsdale had a team-high 404 assists last year as UA finished 13-10 overall and lost to Hamilton Township 25-18, 25-22, 25-20 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. The other two returning letterwinners are senior Morgan Harrison (middle hitter/setter) and junior Piper Crotty (outside hitter).
The Bears lost a key contributor in junior middle hitter Elizabeth Masters, who led the team in blocks (47) and was second in kills (122) last year but is concentrating on beach volleyball. She has committed to play that sport at Louisiana State University.
Coach Van Arsdale said he expected to tinker with the roster early in the season, saying Crotty might see time as a middle hitter, Van Arsdale could play right-side hitter and that the Bears could run a 6-2 offense with Harrison and Van Arsdale as setters.
"I like the fact that (Van Arsdale) can run the court as a setter, but she's also one of our strongest right-side hitters. When we happen to flex to that 6-2, we get a lot of offense out of her also," said coach Van Arsdale, Emma's father. "We have strong players. We have some versatility. I'm still playing with the lineup. ... We're just trying to find the right combination."
UA opened with a 25-23, 25-22, 25-19 home loss to Westerville Central on Aug. 22.
The Bears then lost to Olentangy 25-19, 25-21, 25-8 on Aug. 24 before splitting a tri-match Aug. 26 at New Albany, defeating the host Eagles 25-16, 23-25, 25-23 and losing to Worthington Kilbourne 25-11, 25-20.
Rounding out the roster are senior Kate Gomez (defensive specialist/libero), juniors Kiersten Grimm (middle hitter/ right-side hitter), Maddi Mardas (middle hitter) and Elizabeth McKenna (outside hitter), sophomore Sammy Ansel (defensive specialist/libero) and freshman Lexy Owens (outside hitter).
UA begins OCC-Central play Tuesday, Sept. 5, at Central Crossing. The Bears went 6-4 in the league last year to finish third behind champion Coffman (10-0), which went on to win a Division I regional championship.
Aug. 18 -- vs. St. Charles
Aug. 22 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Aug. 29 -- vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 31 -- at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 5 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 7 -- vs. Canal Winchester
*Sept. 12 -- at Central Crossing
*Sept. 14 -- vs. Marysville
*Sept. 19 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 23 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 26 -- at Westland
Sept. 30 -- vs. Westerville North
Oct. 3 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Oct. 10 -- at Dublin Coffman
Aug. 18 -- at Thomas Worthington
Aug. 22 -- vs. Canal Winchester
Aug. 26 -- at Westerville North
Aug. 29 -- at Westerville Central
Aug. 31 -- vs. DeSales
Sept. 5 -- vs. Olentangy
Sept. 9 -- vs. Gahanna
*Sept. 12 -- vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 14 -- at Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 19 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 21 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 26 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 30 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Oct. 3 -- at Marysville
Oct. 7 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Oct. 10 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 22 -- vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 24 -- at Olentangy
Aug. 26 -- at New Albany with Worthington Kilbourne
Aug. 29 -- vs. Westerville North
Aug. 31 -- at Westerville South
*Sept. 5 -- at Central Crossing
Sept. 6 -- at Gahanna
*Sept. 7- vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 12 -- at Westland
*Sept. 14 -- vs. Marysville
Sept. 16 -- at Dublin Scioto with Sparta Highland
*Sept. 19 -- at Dublin Coffman
Sept. 21 -- at Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 26 -- vs. Central Crossing
*Sept. 28 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Oct. 3 -- vs. Westland
*Oct. 5 -- at Marysville
*Oct. 10 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Oct. 12 -- vs. Big Walnut
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington cross country, field hockey, girls golf, girls tennis, boys water polo and girls water polo teams:
Sept. 2 -- Boys: Hot Summer Bash at Hilliard Davidson; Girls: Westerville North Classic
Sept. 6 -- At New Albany
Sept. 2 -- Lady Thunderbird Invitational at Lost Creek
*Aug. 31 -- At Westland
*Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Marysville
BOYS WATER POLO
Sept. 6 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
GIRLS WATER POLO
Sept. 1-2 -- Milford Invitational
Sept. 6 -- At Worthington Kilbourne