Led by its top scorer from a season ago, the Westerville Central High School boys lacrosse team expects to improve on its 8-10 record from last spring.
Central was out to a good start, as it was 2-1 before playing Crestwood (Kentucky) South Oldham on March 27.
The Warhawks open OCC-Buckeye Division play April 4 at Olentangy Orange.
"We want to be above .500 and be above .500 consistently, and getting off to a hot start is definitely the first step towards that," second-year coach Jeremy Schocken said.
Senior attacker Dawson Kindall has been the driving force behind the Warhawks' offense. He matched a career high with seven goals in a 20-4 win over Buckeye Valley on March 19.
Last season, Kindall led Central with 39 goals and 15 assists.
"This team more than any is a lot closer," he said. "We've been playing with each other all our lives, so that definitely helps in the long run."
Also against Buckeye Valley, senior attacker Mitchell Bury, junior attacker Cole Peck, junior midfielders Jack Lammert and Sam Shoemaker and sophomore attacker Jake Schorling each added two goals.
Sophomore goalkeeper Logan Moore had five saves. Moore replaced 2018 graduate Brandon Farley, who had 144 saves last season and was honorable mention all-league.
Central opened with a 9-5 win over Hilliard Darby on March 15 as Kindall scored five goals. The Panthers ended the Warhawks' season a year ago, winning 10-7 in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament.
Central lost at Thomas Worthington 8-7 on March 25 as Kindall scored five goals and Schorling added two.
Other returnees are seniors Connor Burtner (defender), Jon Gentil (midfielder), Avery Kuhr (midfielder) and Zach Rush (defender) and juniors Tyler Beckel (defender), Mikey Cole (midfielder/faceoff specialist), Jeremy Gellner (midfielder), Heath Jeffers (midfielder), Gabe Muccio (defender) and Lance Wyatt (midfielder).
Sophomore Jimmy Glaser (defender) rounds out the roster.
"The seniors are really buying in to what I'm selling as a team," Schocken said. "They're getting onboard, they're getting the younger guys onboard and you can see it trickling down. Having 17 seniors last year was great, but a lot of habits were from past coaches, so to have all these guys under my umbrella feels really good and we're putting up great results."
Central went 3-4 in the OCC-Buckeye last season to finish fifth behind champion Olentangy (7-0), and Schocken hopes to improve on that mark.
"We're in a pretty tough division," he said. "Especially being in central Ohio, there are a lot of good teams condensed in a very small area. We have a tough schedule, especially towards the middle of the season. We play three, four games against some real high-caliber opponents. If we can get through that and get close to .500, if not over, we can look really good."
Central will look to maintain possession of the Westerville Cup when it visits North on April 16 and South on April 30. Last season, the Warhawks defeated North 7-3 and South 14-3.
Another key loss to graduation was midfielder Jax Looby, who had 38 goals and 11 assists last season.
Girls lacrosse team under new leadership
The girls lacrosse team has a new coach as Abby Schmitz has replaced Cara Hernandez, who stepped down after one season.
Schmitz has served as an assistant coach in the area but is in her first season as a head coach.
The Warhawks are 0-4 and open OCC-Buckeye play April 4 against Orange. They have played well on offense, scoring 48 goals.
"They're doing well. They're meshing as a team," said Schmitz, who is a 2006 graduate of Wooster High School. "We just have to work out a few kinks."
Schmitz played lacrosse at Wooster and Buffalo State College.
Senior midfielder Sophie Misiuk and sophomore attacker Meili Tanzillo each scored four goals in a 17-16 loss to Delaware on March 21. Sophomore attacker Emma Fantine and freshman midfielder Kira Shepherd each added three goals, and junior goalie Rachel Kidd had 10 saves.
Fantine, Shepherd and freshman midfielder Bailee Shepherd each scored two goals in a 19-9 loss to Dublin Scioto on March 18.
Central also lost to Pickerington Central 10-9 on March 15 and Watterson 19-14 on March 23.
Last season, Misiuk was second-team all-region after leading Central with 57 goals.
Also back are seniors Leah Sharifi (midfielder) and Sienna Szymanski (attacker), juniors Aubrey Julian (defender) and Lucy West (defender) and sophomores Lauren Manton (defender) and Jenna Pallaci (midfielder).
Other players are sophomores Nina Dominik (midfielder), Lex Jacobson (defen-der) and Kaitlyn Williams (defender) and freshmen Stella Carpenter (midfielder), Ashley Kerscher (defender) and Izzy Muccio (defender).
"We have a lot of good leaders," Schmitz said. "It's a very young team."
Last season, the Warhawks finished 4-16 overall and went 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye to place sixth behind champion New Albany (7-0).
"Our goal is to have a winning season," Schmitz said. "We want improvement overall. We'll get better as the season goes on."
Below are the coming schedules for the Central baseball, softball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis and track & field teams:
March 29 -- Patriotes De Mortagne (Quebec) in Cocoa Beach, Fla.
March 29 -- At Louisville (Ky.) Christian Academy
April 2 -- Home vs. Gahanna
March 28 -- Painesville Riverside in Grand Strand Softball Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
March 29 -- Williamsport (Pa.) Loyalsock in Grand Strand Softball Classic
April 2 -- At Teays Valley
April 1 -- Home vs. Mount Vernon
April 2 -- At Pickerington Central
April 3 -- At Hilliard Bradley
TRACK & FIELD
April 2 -- Home vs. Big Walnut