With the nucleus of his team back and only three seniors on the roster, Columbus Academy girls soccer coach Matt Thompson is looking forward to this season and the years to come.
The Vikings opened with a 1-0 loss at Fairbanks on Aug. 16 and begin MSL-Ohio Division play Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Whitehall.
Academy finished 9-5-4 overall and 1-2-3 in the league last season.
"We have a nice group of returning players," said Thompson, who is in his third season. "We have a few more kids than we've had in the time that I've been the head coach, which is good, so we're going to try to play a full complement of j.v. games. I'm looking forward to it."
Junior midfielder/forward Katie Schiano led the Vikings with 17 goals last season and was first-team all-district and all-league and second-team all-state in Division III.
Senior midfielder/defender Sarah Neltner was first-team all-district and all-league, and senior forward/midfielder Annalise Grammel was second-team all-district and all-league.
"Everyone is really motivated," Grammel said. "Everyone is really excited to be a part of such an amazing team. We're going to try to go as far as we can. We'll see how that goes. We're always trying to do our best. Making it as far as we can in the postseason is definitely one of our big goals."
Senior midfielder/defender Emma Belford was second-team all-league, and sophomore forward/midfielder Aniah Crockett was honorable mention all-league.
Sophomore goalkeeper Sophie Spolter, who missed most of last season with a right wrist injury, had four saves against Fairbanks.
"She got to play in the field a little for me (late last season), but she looks good," Thompson said. "I'm excited to have her back."
Also back are juniors Olivia Archibald (forward), Allison Bergman (forward/midfielder), Hannah Clay (defender), Ashi Gunawardena (midfielder/defender) and Maggie Walther (forward/midfielder) and sophomores Zora Brown (midfielder/defender), Evie Gee (mid-fielder/defender), Liesel Goldfarb (forward/midfielder), Kennedy Jackson (midfielder/defender), Isabella Kaswinkel (midfielder/defender), Mary Kate Prall (forward/midfielder), Isabel Robeano (midfielder/defen-der), Diana Ulbrich (midfielder) and Emma Yakam (forward/midfielder).
Other players are freshmen Claire Cahall (defender), Jasmine Evans (forward/midfielder/defender), Georgia Gross (forward), Adelaide Kaufman (midfielder), Noel Sedlock (goalie) and Feesha Slootsky (forward/midfielder).
"We're really excited for the season," Grammel said. "We had a huge freshman class last year. We have a pretty big freshman class again this year, so that's definitely exciting to see all these new faces coming out of our middle school program."
Thompson hopes his team can contend in the MSL-Ohio while also enjoying the overall experience.
"I want the kids to walk away from the season saying that they had an unbelievable year and what that is specifically remains to be seen," he said. "My goal as a coach is for the kids to thoroughly enjoy their experience and walk away thinking they're going to miss playing soccer when the season is over."
Boys soccer team eyes long run
After seeing last season end with a 1-0 shootout loss to Olentangy Berlin in a Division II district semifinal, boys soccer coach Ron Leach hopes to see his team advance further this fall.
Academy opened Aug. 17 with a 3-2 loss at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and begins MSL-Ohio play Wed-nesday, Aug. 28, at Grandview.
Last season, the Vikings finished 11-6-1 overall and shared the league title with Grandview at 2-1-1.
Buckeye Valley and Well-ington have joined the league.
"The league is going to be strong again," said Leach, who is in his 15th season. "Wellington has jumped in. Grandview is always good. Bexley is always good. Worthington Christian should be better this year and Wellington is going to be good. It's definitely an exciting league to be a part of."
A key returnee is senior defender Charlie Mueller, who was first-team all-league and second-team all-district last season.
Junior midfielder Jonah Houston was second-team all-league, and junior defender Jared Kass was honorable mention all-league.
Junior Luke Budzik has replaced 2019 graduate Gunner Geiger in goal.
"Luke is playing pretty well for us right now," Leach said.
Also back are seniors Blake Chiovaro (forward), Ashton Cofer (midfielder), Ezra Johnson (midfielder), Elias Marquez (midfielder) and Josh Murry (midfielder).
Senior forward Sam Massick is in his first season with the program after previously playing for Crew SC Academy. He also is an all-state kicker for the football team.
"This is his last year and he wanted to play soccer as well as kick in football," Leach said. "It's wonderful to have him on the team. He's definitely a good player."
Other players are seniors Evan Farrenkopf (forward) and Mark Naguib (midfielder), juniors Finn Cassady (defender), Grant Edwards (midfielder), Campbell Gwin (defender) and Ebube Nwoke (midfielder) and freshmen Leo Kass (forward) and Jonah Hara (defender).
"We lost a lot of good guys last season and we seem to be moving forward," Leach said.
Below are the coming schedules for the Columbus Academy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
*Aug. 22 -- At Columbus School for Girls
Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Aug. 22 -- Bexley at Westchester
Aug. 28 -- Westerville South at Clover Valley
*Aug. 22 -- Bexley at Blacklick Woods
*Aug. 26 -- Buckeye Valley and Wellington at Oakhaven
Aug. 24 -- At Grove City
*Aug. 28 -- At Grandview
Aug. 24 -- At Watkins Memorial
*Aug. 28 -- At Whitehall
*Aug. 22 -- At Grandview
Aug. 24 -- Watterson at Park of Roses
Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Orange
Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Whetstone
*Aug. 27 -- At Grandview