The Watterson girls soccer team produced what is perhaps the greatest season in program history last year.
The Eagles just aren't dwelling on it.
"One of the things we've talked about is the fact that for us, every season is a new journey together," third-year coach Scott Dempsey said. "That was a terrific season last year and we had a tremendous accomplishment for the team and program, but that was last year's team and we're this year's team."
Last season, Watterson finished 18-2-2 overall, won the CCL championship at 4-0 and won district and regional titles before losing to eventual champion Beavercreek 2-1 in a Division I state semifinal.
The Eagles' only other state tournament appearance came in 1998 when they lost in a semifinal.
Watterson had finished 8-8-3 in 2017.
"We're not looking at it as if we're defending regional champions or district champions," said Dempsey, who has coached teams to 10 state tournament appearances, including his time heading the Hilliard boys and Bexley girls programs. "We've raised the bar of expectations and we're going to work as hard as we can to do the same thing this year, but it's our journey this year."
Watterson opened Aug. 17 with a 4-0 loss at Thomas Worthington. The Eagles begin CCL play Sept. 12 at home against DeSales.
Senior midfielder Isabella Ginocchi, a second-team all-state honoree last season, is the top returnee.
The other seniors are Maddie Bogan (midfielder), Megan Eberts (midfielder/defender), Allie Gleason (midfielder/defender) and Rachel Weaver (defender).
Eberts and Weaver were starters last season along with juniors Erin Connors (midfielder/forward), Grace Jenkins (midfielder) and Annie McGraw (goalkeeper) and sophomores Gabriella Rotolo (midfielder/forward) and Katie Youell (defender).
Connors scored the Eagles' goal in the state semifinal.
Sophomore Lexie Francis (midfielder/forward) is another key returnee and junior Julia Flanagan (midfielder) also gained experience last season.
Junior Olivia Frisone (defender) and sophomores Maddy Bellisari (defender) and Brooklyn Scythes (midfielder) are others looking to contribute.
Scythes is a move-in from southern Ohio, according to Dempsey.
The Eagles lost eight players from a year ago to graduation, including Emma Schossler, who had a team-high 21 goals and was named to the United Soccer Coaches High School Scholar All-America team for the 2018-19 school year.
"(Last season) energized our team and our program, no question," Dempsey said. "We're coming together. We've got a good group of experienced kids coming back from last year and a good group of young kids coming in. It's been a good summer so far and we're looking forward to getting underway."
Boys soccer team looking to rebound
From 2010-14, the boys soccer team went 63-34-8 with four Division II district championships and a state runner-up finish in 2013.
Chad Smith, who guided the program during that five-year period, has returned as coach this fall in hopes of helping the Eagles approach their past success.
Watterson went 27-35-8 over the past four seasons, including 3-10-4 overall and 1-3 in the CCL last fall, under former coach Ed Mikula.
The Eagles opened Aug. 16 with a 2-0 loss to Worthington Christian. They begin CCL play Sept. 5 at St. Charles.
"With the staff I hired, we've got several of my former players on staff," Smith said. "That would probably be the first piece of the puzzle. I brought some experience from those teams to assist me and create that winning mentality. It sounds like a coaching cliche, but it's a true collective winning mentality."
Watterson, which has dropped to Division II after having last season end with a 3-1 loss to Dublin Jerome in the second round of the Division I district tournament, has just two seniors in Max Graham and Grant Twombly.
Both players are on defense along with juniors Charlie Kuyers and Marshall Musuraca and sophomores Sean Nyhus, Quentin King and Joey White.
Juniors Liam Brockman and Michael Segreto are at goalie after also splitting time at that position last season.
Trent Maisano is a sophomore forward who should lead the offense along with junior midfielders Anthony Fultz and Colin Robinson and sophomore midfielder Alex Spiers.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Simon DiSabato (midfielder), Nick Isabelle (midfielder), Jake Slyman (forward) and Reed Whetstone (midfielder) and sophomores Johnny Hammerlle (midfielder), Isaac Ohlin (forward) and Ian Walker (midfielder).
"I'm very excited about this group," Smith said. "We're off to a good start. They're working very, very hard. We're pretty young with only having two seniors in the program, so we're looking to gain experience. I'm very excited to watch this season unfold and watch my team develop over the season, watch my youth mature. We've talked about gaining experience every single day."
Below are the coming schedules for the Watterson cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
*Aug. 26 -- At Lancaster
Aug. 27 -- DeSales at Champions
Aug. 26 -- Newark Catholic at The Links at Echo Springs
Aug. 27 -- Delaware at Oakhaven
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township
Aug. 22 -- At Marysville
Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
Aug. 23 -- At Toledo Notre Dame
Aug. 24 -- Eagle Invitational at New Albany
Aug. 28 -- At Pickerington Central
Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Galion