After winning the first Division II district title in program history in 2015 and finishing as district runner-up in 2016, the Hartley High School boys soccer team struggled last season.
The Hawks have six freshmen and five sophomores on their roster but are aiming to move closer to their previous form after going 4-11-2 a year ago.
Hartley opened Aug. 18 with a 5-2 loss to Bloom-Carroll, which went 13-2-4 last season, but rebounded to beat Hamilton Township 4-0 on Aug. 23.
"I always have a positive outlook to begin the season," 11th-year coach Chris Kowalski said. "We're very young, but we bring back a core of guys who logged a lot of minutes last season. We have some of the best numbers in the program since I've been coaching and we have a lot of depth and competition for spots inside the squad."
Senior Matteo Agriesti (mid-fielder/forward), who was first-team all-CCL last year, and senior Diego Pena (defender) and junior Carter Bjornson (defender), both of whom were second-team all-league, are the top returnees.
Junior Sean Price also returns at defender.
Senior Eddie Hofherr (midfielder/forward), junior Matthew Nash (midfielder) and sophomores Declan O'Brien (defender/midfielder) and Ryan Hawk (midfielder) also should be key players offensively.
Junior Aaron Vina (defender) and sophomore Ako Nwokolo (forward) are others who gained experience last season.
Junior Caleb Franz returns at goalkeeper. He will be backed up by freshman Emmett Gillies, who also can play on defense.
Others on the roster are seniors Peter Anigbo (defender), Tom Babeaux (wing player), Daniel Barrera (defender) and Michael Knox (wing player), sophomores Nahom Chegen (wing player/midfielder) and Riley Sheehan (midfielder) and freshmen Gabe Clark (defender), Gabe Donaghy (wing player/forward), Tony Epstein (midfielder), Alex Gabriel (midfielder) and Sam Roehrenbeck (forward/wing player).
Football team preps for Pirates
For the third time in program history, the football team will face Wheelersburg when it plays host to the Pirates on Friday, Aug. 31.
The Hawks opened Aug. 24 with a 42-17 loss at Toledo Central Catholic, which was a Division III state semifinalist last season.
Wheelersburg is coming off a 15-0 season that included a 21-14 overtime victory over Pemberville Eastwood in the Division V state final and beat Ironton 28-6 on Aug. 24 to win its 36th consecutive regular-season game.
The only previous times Wheelersburg and Hartley met were the Division V, Region 17 championship games of 2013 and '14 that the Hawks won 42-20 and 45-38 in overtime, respectively.
The Pirates' offense features senior quarterback Trent Salyers and senior wide receiver Tanner Holden. Salyers threw for program-records of 3,483 yards and 35 touchdowns last season and rushed for 11 scores.
Seniors Evan Dahm (LB/OL) and Avery Donini (DB/TE) and junior Evan Horsley (LB/RB) lead the defense.
Hartley, which lost to Central Catholic 35-16 last season, trailed 21-0 at halftime in the rematch. Matteo Agriesti made a 28-yard field goal with 10 minutes, 42 seconds remaining and the Hawks cut their deficit to 35-10 with a 2-yard touchdown run by Jalan January, but the Fighting Irish returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown.
Miles Fleming, who finished 8-for-16 passing for 111 yards, connected with Phillip Cole for a 26-yard touchdown pass to round out the scoring.
"They're as good of an opponent as there is in the state of Ohio," coach Brad Burchfield said. "We've lost some tight ones, won some tight ones against them."
Girls soccer team hopes for good health
After winning just five regular-season games a year ago, the girls soccer team pulled a second-round Division II district tournament upset over third-seeded Jonathan Alder (1-0) before losing in a district semifinal to finish 7-11-1 overall.
Building on that finish is the goal for Hartley, which opened Aug. 21 with a 1-0 loss to Olentangy Berlin and fell to Bloom-Carroll 2-1 on Aug. 23.
"We've had some injuries, so we're trying to just get healthy," second-year coach Andrew Jahahn said.
"We've got about four or five sophomores and we've got a good junior and senior class leading the way. I feel like we had a better offseason as far as our conditioning and working with the girls and how we structure things."
Hartley, which was seeded seventh for last year's district tournament but has moved up to Division I this year, got a goal from midfielder Helena Donaghy and five saves from goalkeeper Sophia Cegledy against Jonathan Alder.
Both players are juniors who should be among Hartley's top players. Donaghy was among the team's leading scorers last season with five goals and three assists, while Cegledy is joined at goalkeeper by sophomore Emily Sanzone.
Also on defense are freshman Karli Barringer, who is at center back, as well as junior Kaelyn Walther and freshmen Emily Knox and Ellie Morrow.
Seniors Meghan Ballinger and Grace Gill and junior Caroline Leatherman are other midfielders.
Gill also should see time at forward, where she'll join senior Audrey Smith and sophomore Emily Moore.
Freshmen Sydney Collins (midfielder/forward) and Olivia Ralston (midfielder) also are looking to contribute.
Senior Hannah Thompson suffered an injury in late July, leaving her status uncertain for the season.
Volleyball team out to battle for titles
Because the school year didn't begin until Aug. 22, sixth-year girls volleyball coach and athletics director Mike Rahe decided to not have his team play its opener until Aug. 27 against Central Crossing to help his players get acclimated.
The Hawks, though, don't plan to slow down much more this season, which they hope lasts well into November.
After going 18-7 overall and losing in a Division I district semifinal last season, Hartley has dropped back to Division II where it previously has been a state power. The Hawks won the 2011 Division II state title and were state runners-up in 2007, '14 and '16 among six state-tournament appearances.
"Our primary goal is to win the CCL, and DeSales is going to be very good and Watterson is going to be very good, so it's a tough goal," Rahe said.
"Then we'll get to district this year and see what happens in the regional."
Hartley should have one of the top players in Division II in 6-foot-2 senior middle hitter Chiamaka Nwokolo, a University of Pittsburgh commit.
Senior Kayla Malone is a returnee who should see time at outside hitter and right-side hitter. Senior Alexa Wilson (5-11) was on varsity for the final two-thirds of last season and also is at outside or right-side hitter.
Senior Ashley Tipton is moving from defensive specialist to libero this season.
Sophomore Colleen Sweeney (5-10) split time at setter with 2018 graduate Paige Rawlins in a 6-2 offense last season but likely will be the main setter in a 5-1 offense this fall.
The other seniors are Dayna Shoulders (middle hitter) and Ashley Wagner (outside hitter/right-side hitter).
Also looking to contribute are junior Aiva Smith (defensive specialist) and sophomore Katie Heuser (outside hitter/middle hitter/right-side hitter).
Hartley lost five graduates as well as an expected key contributor in outside hitter Maya Hendricks, who transferred to Olentangy Orange for her junior season.
Aug. 18 -- at Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 23 -- vs. Hamilton Township
Aug. 28 -- vs. Centennial
Aug. 30 -- vs. Independence
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Watterson
Sept. 6 -- vs. Bexley
*Sept. 11 -- at Ready
Sept. 13 -- vs. Horizon Science
*Sept. 18 -- at St. Charles
Sept. 20 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 22 -- at Heath
Sept. 25 -- vs. Wellington
Sept. 27 -- at Jonathan Alder
*Oct. 2 -- vs. DeSales
Oct. 9 -- at Granville
Oct. 11 -- at Worthington Christian
Aug. 21 -- at Olentangy Berlin
Aug. 23 -- at Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 27 -- vs. Bexley
Aug. 30 -- at Wellington
*Sept. 6 -- vs. Watterson
Sept. 11 -- vs. Central Crossing
*Sept. 13 -- at Ready
Sept. 15 -- at Big Walnut
Sept. 17 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Sept. 25 -- at Granville
Sept. 27 -- at Westerville South
Oct. 2 -- at Buckeye Valley
*Oct. 4 -- vs. DeSales
*Oct. 6 -- at Columbus School for Girls
Oct. 9 -- vs. Grandview
Oct. 11 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Aug. 27 -- vs. Central Crossing
*Aug. 30 -- vs. Watterson
*Sept. 4 -- at Ready
*Sept. 6 -- vs. DeSales
Sept. 8 -- at Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 11 -- at CSG
Sept. 15 -- at Casstown Miami East
*Sept. 18 -- at Watterson
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Ready
Sept. 22 -- at Circleville Invitational
*Sept. 25 -- at DeSales
*Sept. 27 -- vs. CSG
Oct. 1 -- at Buckeye Valley
Oct. 6 -- London Classic
Oct. 8 -- at Sparta Highland
Oct. 13 -- at Huron
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 1 -- Westerville North Invitational
*Aug. 30 -- At Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 1 -- Bexley Invitational at Westchester
Sept. 4 -- Bexley at Westchester
Sept. 4 -- DeSales at NorthStar
Sept. 5 -- Big Walnut and Pickerington Central at Turnberry
*Sept. 4 -- At DeSales
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Whitehall