The Grandview Heights girls soccer team has begun a new era as assistant coach Bre Dominach has taken over for longtime head coach Mike Merna.
Dominach was an assistant in the final two of Merna's 15 seasons leading the Bobcats.
"Mike Merna brought me over a couple years ago and when I found out he was stepping down I was excited at the prospect of coaching here," said Dominach, who graduated from Worthington Kilbourne and played at Capital. "Grandview is a great community and it has positive kids. Mike still helps us out and gives us input in several areas. He is still around and very much part of the program."
The Bobcats have won Division III district championships each of the past two seasons. In 2017, they lost to Cincinnati Summit Country Day 3-1 in a state semifinal. Last fall, they fell to Zanesville Rosecrans 2-1 (3-1 shootout) in a regional semifinal to finish 15-3-2 overall.
"We're keeping a lot of it the same (in terms of alignment)," said Dominach, whose team tied Worthington Christian for the MSL-Ohio Division championship at 4-0-2. "They are comfortable with it and the coaching staff hasn't changed much.
"We lost five key seniors from last year, but we have a good core coming back. We still have a good, solid nucleus."
Leading the way are junior forward Tayler Pierce and junior midfielder Tia Thomas. Pierce led the Bobcats in scoring last season with 19 goals and five assists, and Thomas added three goals and one assist. Both were first-team all-district and all-league.
"(The transition) has been great since we're used to (Dominach) because she was an assistant for the last couple of years," Pierce said. "The preseason has been great, and we have been working well together. Our chemistry is the best it has ever been."
Sophomore Zoey Miller (honorable mention all-league; 6 goals, 3 assists) returns to join Pierce up front, and junior Lindsey Bertani is back in the midfield with Thomas. Junior Carlie Orr (honorable mention all-league) also is in the midfield.
Senior Hallie Georskey (second-team all-league) and sophomore Abbie Baxter return to anchor the defense.
"We lost some speed with some of our seniors so we're changing our (scoring) approach," said Dominach, whose team opened Aug. 20 against West Jefferson. "Without (2019 graduates) Whitney (Schaefer) and Olivia (Girardi), we have to change things around and we need to win more 50-50 balls. We're still fast, but Whitney and Olivia were exceptionally quick."
Three-year starting goalkeeper Ruby Gentile also was lost to graduation. Senior Addi Holcomb and junior Layla Slaughter are looking to fill the void.
The Bobcats have a six-player senior class that also includes midfielders Izzy Evans and Emma Hall and defenders Claudette Moul and Georgia Ryan.
"I think the one thing they have going for them is that their chemistry is strong and positive," said Dominach, whose team opens MSL-Ohio play Wednesday, Aug. 28, at Bexley. "They also have better communication on the field. We have a lot of key players who're willing to communicate and direct what's going on."
Rounding out the roster are sophomores Maya Burchfield (midfielder), Simone Chordas (defender) and Sasha Pomerants (defender) and freshmen Maggie Herlihy (midfielder), Riley Lovegrove (midfielder) and Lucia Mastroianni (forward).
New day dawns for boys soccer team
The boys soccer team will need to find scoring if it expects to reach a third consecutive state semifinal and win a sixth consecutive district championship.
The Bobcats finished 16-3-3 overall last season, losing to Miamisburg Dayton Christian 3-2 in a Division III state semifinal. They must replace the 50 goals and nine assists produced by 2019 graduate Manny Day, a first-team all-state performer and Player of the Year in the district and MSL-Ohio who is now playing at Dayton.
"We reloaded last year and we need to do the same this year," said fourth-year coach James Gerdes, whose team tied Columbus Academy for the league title last fall at 2-1-1. "Manny will be difficult to replace, but we're excited to see who can step up this season.
"We're going to have to score by committee and we're already working on that in practice. Last year we had one exceptional player and that changed how we played. This year, we go back to a more team-oriented approach."
The Bobcats return two second-team all-league performers in the back of the field in senior goalie Lance Trares (155 saves) and junior defender Kai Iisaka (8 goals, 5 assists). However, Gerdes said he's moving both up to play forward.
"We're moving Lance to striker because of his physicality and his shooting, and he could be our next-best option," Gerdes said. "We also had an Italian exchange student come in -- Guglielmo Magherini -- who has looked good in goal in the preseason and allowed us to make that switch."
Senior Ross Day (honorable mention all-league; 6 goals, 10 assists) and sophomore Jack Mollette (2 goals) are back at forward, with senior Charlie Ferguson and junior Adam Bechtel (honorable mention all-league; 1 goal, 3 assists) returning at midfielder. Seniors Ravi Kumar and Ethan Page return at defender.
The Bobcats opened Aug. 19 against Fisher Catholic and played Olentangy Berlin on Aug. 20. They begin MSL-Ohio play Wednesday, Aug. 28, at home against Academy.
"I think that there are no individuals on this team and the spirit has been really good," Gerdes said. "We'll try to use that to our advantage. We should have a good, solid team across the board."
Below are the coming schedules for the Grandview Heights cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Granville Invitational
Aug. 28 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Aug. 22 -- Centerburg at National Road
Aug. 27 -- Hartley at National Road
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Summit Country Day
*Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Columbus Academy
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Summit Country Day
*Aug. 28 -- At Bexley
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Academy
Aug. 26 -- At Central Crossing
Aug. 27 -- At Hartley
Aug. 22 -- At Amanda-Clearcreek
*Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Academy
*Aug. 28 -- At Worthington Christian