Much like a year ago at this time, Upper Arlington High School boys lacrosse coach Kyle Olson is working with a senior-laden team.
The Golden Bears have 17 seniors, one more than last season.
But unlike last year, when UA returned only two starters, none are back this year from a team that went 19-3 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Central Division but fell short of the state tournament for the first time since 2011. That does not mean, however, that the Bears are inexperienced at the varsity level.
"Stepping into being a starter, it's about stepping into being the guy where the ball is on your stick at the end of the game instead of you cheering from the sideline or passing it to the big playmaker," said Olson, whose third season began March 26 against Worthington Kilbourne at Wellington. "It's a different pressure, a different mindset where you have to be the aggressor. You have to be the guy who steps up and makes the play wherever you are. It's this senior class' turn to step up and take the opportunity."
Kilbourne ended UA's season last year, defeating the Bears 8-7 in the Division I, Region 3 final.
Several players saw time last year as backups, including seniors A.J. Achatz (midfielder), Sam Campbell (midfielder), Drew Hellstedt (goalkeeper), Nathan Junk (midfielder), Jack Mason (attacker) and Anthony Pardi (attacker).
Junk will play both football and lacrosse at Kenyon College.
"We did a lot of offseason work this year, more than I've ever had to do and I've been on varsity for three years," Campbell said. "We played more indoor games. We implemented a lot of the drills and structures we're implementing out here into the field game. There wasn't as much of a learning curve (when the preseason started)."
Rounding out the roster are seniors A.J. Borders (midfielder), Sean Byrne (defender), Cooper Ellis (attacker), Michael Kern (defender), Luke Marshall (midfielder), James Schuman (midfielder), Pierce Showe (defender), Alexander Thomson (defender), Luke Tzagournis (midfielder), Joe Winslow (defender) and Jack Wrightsel (midfielder), juniors Cooper Braet (midfielder), Joe DeCapua (attacker), Liam Gillespie (defender), Davis Gillie (defender), Garrett Jepson (goalie), Will Lawless (defender), Duncan MacDonald (midfielder), David Robbins (defender), Jack Tjaden (attacker) and Jackson Weeks (defender), sophomores Garrett Junk (attacker), Shea Keethler (midfielder), Marco Landolfi (midfielder), Evan Lively (midfielder), Grant Miller (midfielder) and MacGuire Scholl (goalie) and freshmen Leo Caine (attacker), Christopher Reynolds (defender) and Charlie Van Aman (attacker).
UA will play five home games at Wellington while Marv Moorehead Stadium is rebuilt as part of construction for the new high school. The Bears have four neutral-site games scheduled, including one at Ohio Stadium on April 20 against Culver (Indiana) Culver Academies that will follow a Big Ten Conference game between Ohio State and Maryland.
UA, which finished second in the OCC-Central last season behind Dublin Coffman (7-0), begins league play April 4 at Pickerington Central.
"We have to stay together as a team and (remember) how important teamwork is, especially with no returning starters," Mason said. "We can't just be individuals."
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington baseball, boys lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
April 1 -- At Dublin Jerome
April 2 -- At Watkins Memorial
April 3 -- At Grove City
March 28 -- At Thomas Worthington
March 30 -- At Indianapolis Cathedral
March 31 -- St. Louis Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School at Indianapolis Cathedral
March 30 -- At Dublin Scioto with Big Walnut
April 1 -- Dublin Jerome at Fred Beekman Park
April 2 -- Watterson at Fred Beekman Park
March 29 -- At Cincinnati Country Day
March 30 -- At Cincinnati Indian Hill
TRACK & FIELD
March 26 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
April 3 -- At Westerville North with Gahanna
*March 28 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*April 2 -- At New Albany