A year after one of the most experienced boys soccer teams Johnny Ulry has coached at New Albany pulled off an undefeated regular season in which it allowed just six goals, only to suffer a Division I district tournament loss at home, the Eagles will have a new look this season.
With what Ulry called his youngest New Albany team in terms of both age and experience, objectives remain the same for the Eagles, whose quest for a fourth consecutive OCC-Capital Division championship began Aug. 16 with a season-opening 1-0 win at league rival Big Walnut.
"We're very green," said Ulry, who is in his fifth season and was Division I state Coach of the Year last year. "Thirteen of our guys are on varsity for the first time, but they're excited to step in and they're ready to go. They want to continue what we've done here.
"They're hungry to get on the field again and get the season going. We remember how it ended. That memory has stuck around a little bit."
Four starters return from last year's team that went 17-1 overall and 5-0 in the OCC-Capital, outscoring its opponents 73-7 but falling to Dublin Jerome 2-1 (4-3 shootout) in a district semifinal.
Seniors Luke Baily (defen-der), Josh Metcalf (defender) and Thomas Shneker (forward) are back, as is junior midfielder Jakob Bering. Metcalf scored the only goal against Big Walnut in the first minute of the second half.
Among the losses to graduation was Noah Boffo, last year's state Player of the Year who scored a team-high 20 goals.
Gage Weiner, one of 21 sophomores in the program and six on varsity, is the starting goalkeeper.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Brandon Barash (forward), Matavey Bespertov (defender), Collin Helms (forward), Max Malo (midfielder), Joey Schroer (goalie) and Teddy Ypsilantis (forward), juniors Ryan Blackburn (defender), Grant Busch (defender), Will Fischer (midfielder), Nick Fisher (defender), Sean Mankins (goalie) and Kirill Sakunov-Stephanoff (midfielder) and sophomores Ashton Bilow (midfielder), Calvin Creger (midfielder), Derek Harris (forward), Henri Heyes (defender) and Cameron Kist (forward).
"Those sophomores are all new, but they're going to get significant playing time," Ulry said. "With the new guys it's all about the pace of the game and more plays to learn. Everything goes faster. They're picking things up. They're technically sound, very good soccer players."
New Albany's home opener was Aug. 20 against Jerome.
The Eagles continue OCC-Capital play Sept. 10 at home against Newark. They won the league championship last year by one game ahead of runner-up Canal Winchester (4-1).
A rugged schedule includes a neutral site game Sept. 6 at Capital against Louisville St. Xavier, the two-time defending state champion in Kentucky, and a trip to Lexington, Kentucky, for games Sept. 21 and 22 against Paul Laurence Dunbar and Henry Clay.
Henry Clay defeated Dunbar in a regional final last year.
"We've bulked our schedule up a little bit," Ulry said. "We're a young squad but as coaches, we're very excited about the future and our talent. We just have to get the guys up to speed. We're expecting another good season. It will be fun to watch."
Girls team moves on without Harris
Several key contributors return for the girls soccer team, which is seeking its second consecutive OCC-Capital championship and third in four years and also is coming off a Division I district runner-up finish.
Still, third-year coach Jared Dombrowski and his team must figure out a way to replace the production lost with the absences of senior forward Brooklyn Harris, a USC commit who will miss the season after undergoing knee surgery to repair a microfracture, and graduated midfielder Lydia Cornelius.
Harris, who will be sidelined until March, had 23 goals and 13 assists to lead the Eagles to records of 11-4-4 overall and 5-0 in the league last year, ahead of runner-up Big Walnut (4-1). Cornelius, a second-team all-state honoree, now plays at the University of Chicago.
Prominent returnees include seniors Gabby Gabor (midfielder) and Scarlett Tischer (defender), juniors Kelis Brown (midfielder/forward), Madison Cofer (defender), Jordan Conley (goalie) and Morgan Wiest (forward) and sophomore Faith Grisdale (midfielder).
"Replacing (that) output isn't going to be easy ... but I think we have the talent to compensate. We'll tweak some things and move forward," said Dombrowski, whose team opened Aug. 16 with a 2-1 loss at Big Walnut. "We'll place a lot on Kelis and Morgan's shoulders. Faith was a defender but we've moved her up into the midfield. Jordan's in her third year as a starting keeper. These girls have been in big situations before."
Wiest scored the Eagles' goal Aug. 16. Conley made four saves.
The rest of the roster consists of seniors Bailey Burdick (midfielder), Amalie Hoiskar (midfielder) and Hailee Limes (midfielder), juniors Harper Anderson (goalie), Emily Hess (midfielder/forward), Avery Lowden (defender) and Lily Sayre (defender), sophomores Ashley Clinger (defender), Bella Haas (forward), Kate Partridge (defender/forward), Meredith Whitaker (midfielder) and Nadia Yingling (defender) and freshmen Addison Scharver (forward) and Carolyne Young (defender).
Hoiskar is an exchange student from Norway.
"We had some turnover with the injury and new girls on the roster and we're trying to adapt," Dombrowski said. "Some scrimmages, we had a lot of positives. In others, we found things we needed to tweak and fine-tune."
New Albany's home opener was Aug. 22 against Olentangy Berlin. The Eagles continue league play Sept. 10 at Newark.
Their non-league schedule also includes a rematch of last year's district final Sept. 19 at Pickerington North. The Eagles fell to the Panthers 2-1.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North
Aug. 28 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Aug. 23 -- At Dublin Scioto
Aug. 24 -- At Olentangy Berlin
*Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Aug. 26 -- Olentangy Liberty at New Albany Country Club
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Capital at Turnberry
Aug. 24 -- Fall Open at New Albany Links
Aug. 26 -- Lexington Elite Invitational at Westbrook
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Central at Mentel Memorial
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Gahanna
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Berlin
Aug. 27 -- At Gahanna
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Newark
Aug. 24 -- Eagle Invitational
*Aug. 27 -- At Big Walnut
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington and Worthington Kilbourne
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Gahanna