Losing a player who recorded 52 goals and 27 assists might keep some coaches awake at night trying to figure out how to make up for that production, but Pickerington High School Central boys lacrosse coach Garyck Todd says that wasn't the case for him.
Despite the graduation of attacker Mark Carberry from last year's team that went 8-10 overall and 4-3 in the OCC-Central Division, Todd is hopeful that senior attacker Morgan Morrell, a John Carroll commit who missed all of last season with an injury, and others can pick up the slack or lead a balanced group that can improve on last year's offense.
That wasn't a problem to open the season, as Central racked up 47 goals in winning its first three games. The Tigers were 3-0 before visiting Centerville on March 26.
"We're a very senior-heavy team with some youth sprinkled in," said Todd, who is in his second season. "Mark was an incredible player, but I'm very excited to see what Morgan can bring for his senior year. He's hungry and this team feeds off that."
The Tigers feature four other college recruits in seniors Joey Adornetto-Willhite (attacker, Heidelberg), Travis Allasi (midfielder, Lake Erie), Caleb Casto (defender/long-stick midfielder, John Carroll) and Owen Henry (midfielder, John Carroll). Senior goalkeeper Brendan Chong also returns and will be backed up by sophomore Max Schillig.
Morrell had 11 goals, freshman attacker Ben Hayes scored 10 and sophomore midfielder A.J. Terbovich scored eight through three games. Central opened March 16 with a 13-6 win at Hilliard Bradley and followed that up with a 19-4 victory at Wheeling (West Virginia) Central Catholic on March 19 and a 15-0 shutout of host Wheeling Linsly School the next day.
"We're a hard-working team that never quits and I think we've really embraced this identity as a program," Todd said. "Our team motto this year has been 'The Standard' and our boys really seem to have taken that to heart."
Rounding out the roster are seniors Evan Burgess (midfielder), Dom Lewis (defe-nder), Mike Moore (attacker), Liam Murphy (midfielder) and Nate Shultz (midfielder), juniors Quintin Brown (midfielder), Garret Huffman (defender), Dom Marasco (defender), Anthony Taranto (midfielder) and Kaelin Tran (defender/long-stick midfielder), sophomores Josh Beach (midfielder), Blake Benson (defender), Vince Burre (midfielder), John Goetsch (midfielder), Jacob Kelly (midfielder), Chase Lagore (attacker), Justin Myers (defender), Jacob Poole (midfielder), Alex Rowles (defender/midfielder) and Tyler Turnbull (defender) and freshmen Jason Allasi (midfielder), Jeremiah Hatch (defender), Kaleb Stemm (attacker/midfielder) and Ethan Tressler (defender).
The Tigers' home opener is Friday, March 30, against Wooster. They begin league play April 4 at home against Upper Arlington.
Last season, Central finished fourth in the OCC-Central behind champion Dublin Coffman (7-0) and beat Westerville South 12-9 in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament for its first postseason win since 2011. The Tigers lost to New Albany 15-8 in the second round.
Todd hopes that promising signs in conditioning leads to even more victories this spring.
"I was very excited to see the gains that our boys made in the weight room this offseason," he said. "We had the majority of the team in offseason workouts since September. It's encouraging to see the work ethic trending in the right direction. I couldn't be more proud of the commitment shown to the program."
Girls lacrosse team has depth, experience
With nine starters and 12 letterwinners back from last season, including three of his top four scorers, second-year girls lacrosse coach Brian Walton is excited about his team's experience and the spread of talent throughout his program's 39 players.
Led by junior attacker/midfielder Maddie Morrell, a Rollins College commit who followed up last year's 57-goal season by scoring 15 times in the season's first three games, Central is 3-0 entering its home opener Thursday, March 28, against Chillicothe.
Sophomore midfielder Grace Osborn added 47 goals and sophomore attacker/midfielder Riley Smith scored 16 last season for the Tigers, who went 10-9 overall, 2-4 in the OCC-Central and lost to Dublin Jerome 17-7 in a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal.
"We have the largest roster in program history, which includes a large and talented freshman class. This led to increased competition for positions," Walton said. "The returning players worked extremely hard in the offseason because they knew they would have competition for their positions this spring.
"I expect our offense to be significantly better than last season. Last year, we played more like a group of individuals instead of as a cohesive unit. So far (this season), we've played good 'team' offense."
Central opened March 15 with a 10-9 win at Westerville Central. The Tigers then defeated host Olentangy Orange 16-4 on March 18 and won 20-4 at Bradley on March 20.
In addition to Morrell, Osborn and Smith, seniors Lindy Brobeck (defender), Kelsea Friedheim (attacker), Maddy Shirer (defender/midfielder) and Dylan Smith (attacker/midfielder), junior M.J. Logan (defender) and sophomore Tatum McElwain (defender) are returning starters.
Morrell is one of four players committed or signed to play in college. Brobeck is a Marietta recruit and Shirer and Dylan Smith will play at Capital.
Freshmen Cadence Jobe and Megan Liston are splitting time in goal.
"We don't have many specific goals or lofty expectations. We just want to get better each game and hopefully be playing our best lacrosse in May," Walton said. "Ideally, we will improve upon last year's record and keep the program headed in the right direction."
Rounding out the varsity roster are seniors Maya Matteson (defender), Brooke Morgan (midfielder) and Emily Schenk (defender), juniors Lexy Sheets (defender) and Kennedy Smith (midfielder), sophomore Megan Lang (attacker) and freshmen Jada Easler (defender), Kayla Godwin (attacker), Brooklyn Miller (midfielder) and Brenna Todd (midfielder).
Central, which finished fifth in the OCC-Central last year behind champion and four-time defending state champion Upper Arlington (6-0), begins league play April 4 against the Golden Bears at UA's Tremont Elementary School.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
March 30 -- Home vs. Wooster
April 2 -- Home vs. Westerville South
March 28 -- Home vs. Chillicothe
April 2 -- Home vs. Westerville North
March 28 -- At Groveport
March 29 -- Home vs. Hartley
April 2 -- Home vs. Olentangy
March 28 -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial
March 29 -- Home vs. Waverly
April 2 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
April 3 -- Home vs. Granville
TRACK & FIELD
April 2 -- At Dublin Jerome
*March 28 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
March 30 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy, Northland and Whetstone
*April 2 -- At Dublin Coffman
April 3 -- At Olentangy