The Bexley girls soccer team is thrilled that last fall is a thing of the past.
The Lions had only four returning starters and finished 4-7-7 overall and 1-2-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division. But what they learned along the way can only help this season under first-year coach Scott James.
"These girls are really adaptable," said James, who spent the past eight seasons as an assistant with the Bexley boys program and replaced Ryan Leven after two seasons. "We have been throwing a lot of things at them and they have really responded to our coaching and what we are trying to do."
James led the Franklin Heights girls program for eight seasons and also led the Falcons baseball program for two seasons. He teaches health in South-Western City Schools.
"(James) is a really good coach, and he understands us as players and our strengths and weaknesses," said junior forward Aly Cox, who is the team's top returning scorer with five goals. "It's nice to have that experience because we all understand the game better. I think we all have good chemistry."
James expects the Lions to get their scoring from seniors Caroline Bunker (forward; first-team all-district and all-league), Claire Heilman (forward) and Laney Hoehnke (midfielder; second-team all-district, first-team all-league) and sophomore forward Grace Heilman.
Seniors Anne Clubb, Joanie Dunker (third-team all-district, honorable mention all-league) and Julia Miracle and junior Sammi Nack will anchor the defense.
Senior Quinn Kane, junior Maddy Young and sophomore Sydney Tyler also will play in the midfield.
"We have been a very good possession-oriented team," James said. "They have played a lot since they were young and they have played together. They know where everyone is going to be as well as their strengths and weaknesses."
Sophomore Katie Jude (36 saves) takes over at goalkeeper for 2019 graduate Makayla Burzynski.
Bunker scored as the Lions opened Aug. 16 with a 3-1 loss to Westerville Central. They begin MSL-Ohio play Wednesday, Aug. 28, against visiting Grandview.
"We need some consistency," James said. "We haven't had that every day. Once we get that consistent effort, we could be very good."
Boys soccer team looks for repeat performance
The boys soccer team will attempt to repeat as a Division II district champion.
The Lions finished 13-7 overall last season, losing to Cincinnati McNicholas 3-2 in a regional semifinal after winning their first district title since 2013.
Bexley returns six starters led by senior goalie Ben Ziegler, who had 115 saves to earn second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league honors.
"We have a good core group from last year," fourth-year coach Jay Scott said. "They have a high energy level and high work rate, and the older guys are really strong leaders. They are doing a great job of bringing up the young guys. They want to do well and are a driving force for us."
Senior forward Miles Goldman (5 goals, 2 assists), junior midfielder Will Fletcher and junior forward/midfielder Charlie Breyfogle (5 goals, 2 assists) also return. Senior Fred Cowan (4 goals) has moved from midfielder to defender with junior Grant Nguyen.
Senior midfielder Miles Joseph (second-team all-league) would have been the team's top returning scorer with seven goals and three assists, but he's out for the season after having hip surgery.
"We have a lot of little injuries early," Scott said. "Charlie has some problems with shin splints and Grant has a foot injury. We're moving guys around right now, but I think we have a talented crew if we get through the early bout with injuries."
Bexley has three freshmen who expect to contribute in defender Grayson Fletcher and forwards Liam Kauffman and James McCann.
Goldman scored twice as the Lions opened with a 4-0 win over Hartley on Aug. 16. Breyfogle and Kauffman both had one goal.
Bexley starts MSL-Ohio play Aug. 31 against Whitehall.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Dan Reid Invitational at Whitehall Community Park
Aug. 28 -- Canal Winchester Invitational
Aug. 24 -- Home vs Kettering Fairmont
*Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Hartley
Aug. 22 -- Columbus Academy at Westchester
Aug. 27 -- Teays Valley at The Players Club at Foxfire
*Aug. 22 -- Academy at Blacklick Woods
*Aug. 26 -- Worthington Christian at Blackhawk
Aug. 24 -- At St. Marys Memorial
Aug. 22 -- At Bloom-Carroll
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Chillicothe Unioto
*Aug. 28 -- Home vs. Grandview
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Whitehall
Aug. 26 -- At Dublin Scioto
Aug. 28 -- At Gahanna
*Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Whitehall