Although it improved by two victories compared to 2017, the Reynoldsburg boys soccer team still was held scoreless six times last season.
The Raiders, according to fourth-year coach Tony Labudovski, might be an improved offense away from being one of the area's top teams this fall.
On Aug. 16, Reynoldsburg opened with a 5-3 victory over Groveport after the teams played to a scoreless tie last season.
"We've just got to finish goals," Labudovski said. "If you don't score, you don't win. We just want to score goals this year and I was pretty impressed with what we've been doing."
Another of the games in which the Raiders were held scoreless last season was a 1-0 loss to third-season St. Charles in a Division I district semifinal, giving the 18th-seeded squad a final record of 9-4-6. The Cardinals, meanwhile, ended up being a regional runner-up.
There are 10 seniors in the program this season, including first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division honorees Nate Russell (defender) and Nick Wallace (forward).
Senior Pawan Rai (midfielder) was second-team all-league last year, and senior Yobiel Fishation (midfielder) was special mention all-league.
The other seniors are Rogelio Aldaw (midfielder), Collin Bradley (defender), Jackson Harms (defender/midfielder), Gabe McCarroll (forward), Sanjock Poudel (forward) and Kevonn Rayford (defender).
Junior Brady Frydl returns at goalkeeper, with junior Seth Utt as the backup.
Others on the team include juniors Amir Abukar (forward), Veron Fongeh (forward), John Hayes (forward), Crofton McDevitt (forward) and Devin Vongsavath (defender), sophomore Nassir Disuki (midfielder) and freshman Nic Phanthavong (midfielder).
After finishing fourth in the league a year ago at 1-2-2, behind champion Pickerington North (5-0), Reynoldsburg opens OCC-Ohio action Sept. 10 at Gahanna.
"They're hungry to be successful," Labudovski said. "It's been great. Everything I've been asking for they've been doing. Our identity last year and it seems like this year is that we don't give up too many goals. We have a lot of experience in the midfield and offense takes time to adapt, but we're very strong especially with our back line and our goalie. ... Anybody can win this conference, and that's one of our goals."
Girls soccer team looks to take step up
The girls soccer team has a new coach in Sam Abate but many of the same goals of becoming an upper-echelon program in the OCC-Ohio and at the district level after going 39-47-4 over the past five seasons under Jimmy Stevens.
Last fall, the Raiders won their first six games but finished 10-7-1 overall, including losing to Olentangy Liberty 2-0 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
That's the same round in which Reynoldsburg's season end during each season under Stevens, although last year was the only time it posted a winning record during his tenure.
Abate served as an assistant under Stevens and took over after Stevens retired.
"We have a fair amount of girls that are back from last year," Abate said. "Our goal is to do a little bit better than last year, so we'll be working toward that. We want to go farther in the tournament and finish in the top half of our league. We're working on some different formations so it'll take time to get used to that, but when we get used to it, we'll be very competitive."
Reynoldsburg opened with a 13-0 victory over Groveport on Aug. 16 and begins league play Sept. 10 against Gahanna. The Raiders placed fifth in the OCC-Ohio last season at 1-4, behind co-champions Gahanna and North (4-0-1).
The top returnees are senior Isa Fuentes (center midf-ielder/outside midfielder) and junior Ryanne Buck (forward). Buck had 23 goals and two assists and was first-team all-league last season, while Fuentes had seven goals and four assists and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior Kendall Craiglow returns at center back after totaling seven goals and four assists.
Seniors Alissa Richmond and Alexis Sheffield return at goalie after splitting time there last season.
Junior Cassidy Collins (outside midfielder) and sophomores Leah Delancey (center midfielder/outside back), Olivia Dulay (defender/center midfielder), Sydney Frydl (center back) and Baylie Phillips (center midfielder) are other key returnees.
Rounding out the senior class are Polly Antrim (outside back), Caroline Kelly (midfielder), Kristen Vanderhoff (midfielder) and Aliyah Webb (midfielder).
Others looking to contribute include junior Ruby Allender (defender) and sophomores Paige Castello (midfielder), Anna Haines (outside midfielder), Carly Jones (outside back), Alexa Leach (defender) and Abby Starkey (midfielder).
"So far, so good," Abate said. "It's looking positive. We're trying to play at a faster level and practice faster. We'll see how it goes. We're jelling and getting better and better each practice."
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Aug. 22 -- Watkins Memorial at Cumberland Trail
Aug. 28 -- Westerville North at Royal American
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Watkins Memorial
Aug. 27 -- At Westerville South
Aug. 22 -- At Watkins Memorial
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Westerville South
*Aug. 23 -- At Gahanna
Aug. 24 -- Watkins Memorial Doubles Tournament
*Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Grove City
Aug. 22 -- At New Albany
Aug. 26 -- At Whitehall
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Westerville South