Thanks to added depth, Columbus Academy boys lacrosse coach Derek Lichtfuss is feeling optimistic heading into his second season.
The Vikings finished last season with 26 players, with that number increasing to 37 as they prepare to open Sunday, March 31, against Glenelg (Maryland) in Baltimore.
Lichtfuss expects Academy to improve on last spring's 5-9 finish.
"The expectations are a little higher this year," he said. "We've gone from 26 guys to 37 in the program, so now we have two full teams: a full j.v. and a full varsity schedule. We expect next year to pick up again. We have another 14 eighth-graders that are going to be coming up and only seven guys graduating. The numbers are increasing every year, which is a great thing."
Junior midfielder/attacker Andrew Swartz led the Vikings in scoring with 37 goals and four assists last season. Junior midfielder Charlie Yaw had 24 goals and seven assists, and senior attacker/midfielder/def-ender Keenan Bellisari had 23 goals and two assists.
Senior midfielder Gunnar Geiger won a team-best 191 face-offs, and junior goalkeeper Philip Soderberg made 102 saves.
Academy should be boosted by the return of senior midfielder Malcolm Klingbeil, who missed most of last season with a right knee injury.
"We have a real promising year ahead of us," said Klingbeil, who noted he is at full strength. "Last year was pretty smooth. (Lichtfuss) is such a good coach that he came in and we all meshed with him really well. This year now that we all know him, it's going to be even better and it's going to be a good year with him."
Also back are seniors Dalyn DeCree (defender) and Oscar Giller (midfielder).
Senior attacker David Barren, who played as a freshman and sophomore before focusing solely on track and field last season, will compete in both sports this spring.
"I'm thrilled to have David back," Lichtfuss said. "He's a good player and he's a good kid."
Other players are senior Jacob Beck (goalie/midfielder), juniors Blake Chiovaro (midfielder) and Michael Hoffman (midfielder), sophomores Vassar Barney (defender), Matthew Derzon (defender), Lakes Florey (attacker), Campbell Gwin (midfielder), Graham Mallory (defender/midfielder), Robert Mills (midfielder) and Chris Sugar (midfielder) and freshmen Drake Bellisari (midfielder), Charles Stoner (defen-der/midfielder) and Zachary White (attacker).
"We have a really unique group of kids," Lichtfuss said. "They're a lot of fun. They're very attentive. They're hard workers. They're definitely passionate about the sport, so that makes it fun to coach. ... We're expecting to be competitive with everybody in at least the Division II level."
Girls lacrosse team motivated by loss
The girls lacrosse team enters the season still lamenting a 16-7 loss to DeSales in the Division II, Region 7 final a year ago.
It was the Vikings' second consecutive loss to the Stallions in a regional final, as they lost 14-4 in 2017.
"That is not behind us," coach Anne Horton said of last season's loss. "The kids are still bitter about having such a great season, but then such a lackluster performance in that regional final has really motivated our kids to come back pretty strong. We have a very challenging schedule -- there's nothing easy about it -- and the kids are ready to see what we have."
Academy opens with a pair of games in the Baltimore area, as it plays Baltimore Mercy on Friday, March 29, and Owings Mills (Maryland) Garrison Forest on Saturday, March 30.
The Vikings begin Central Independent League play Tuesday, April 2, against visiting Bexley.
Last season, Academy finished second (6-1) in the league behind DeSales (7-0). The teams meet April 25 at DeSales.
The top returnees are senior midfielder Lexie Leader, who was named first-team all-state, all-region and all-league last season, and senior attacker Tani Obikunle, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-region.
Junior midfielder Lauren Bernacki was second-team all-region and all-league, and junior midfielder Abby Yakam was second-team all-league and honorable mention all-region.
Senior midfielder Sydney Hill was second-team all-league and senior defender Aiyana Taylor was honorable mention all-league.
Also back are seniors Sidney Derzon (attacker), Jenny L'Hommedieu (midfielder/defen-der), Megan Schmitz (midfielder/attacker) and Avie Smith (attacker), juniors Emma Belford (attacker), Alex Phelps (defender) and Mackenzie Smith (attacker) and sophomores Charlotte Adams (defender/midfielder), Suzy L'Hommedieu (defender/midfielder) and Ashley Reynolds (goalie).
Other players are junior Riley Hennessy (defender), sophomores Marin Henry (goalie) and Sarah Klingerman (defender) and freshmen Evie Gee (midfielder), Claudia Klingbeil (midfielder), Avery Mitchell (attacker) and Gurby Vaziri (midfielder).
"We have a very solid senior class of eight girls, so those kids have really stepped in and taken ownership and are ready to right the wrong from last year," said Horton, who is in her 25th season. "We have some depth this year and the kids need to be tested. We need to use our regular-season play to get the kinks out before we start to eye the postseason run."
Junior Kiersten Thomassey, who was first-team all-region and all-league last season, has decided to compete in track.
Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus Academy baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and track & field teams:
March 28 -- Elmhurst (Ill.) Timothy Christian at Ripken Experience in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
April 1 -- At Reynoldsburg
April 2 -- At Franklin Heights
March 31 -- Glenelg (Md.) at Tierney Field in Baltimore
April 2 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
March 29 -- Baltimore Mercy at Tierney Field in Baltimore
March 30 -- At Owings Mills (Md.) Garrison Forest
*April 2 -- Home vs. Bexley
March 28 -- At Jacksonville (Fla.) Bolles
April 3 -- At Hilliard Darby
TRACK & FIELD
March 29 -- Bexley Invitational
April 2 -- At Worthington Christian