Hilliard Davidson boys soccer player Josh Burton has put last year's disappointing season behind him.
The senior defender's focus is on helping lead the Wildcats to a turnaround after finishing 6-11-2 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Central Division last fall.
"I love it. I look forward to (the season) every year," said Burton, who earned special mention all-league honors last season. "It's my last go-round. They say that time flies and they weren't kidding. We have high standards. We have a lot of young guys fighting for spots and a bunch of hungry seniors. The expectations are pretty high this year. I have a good feeling about this year."
Davidson opened Aug. 17 by tying host Bradley at 2 and begins league play Sept. 10 at home against defending champion Dublin Coffman.
Senior forward Carter Ely and senior midfielder Sean Carrier each scored against the Jaguars and senior goalkeeper Caleb Doutt had three saves.
"I look forward to it," sixth-year coach Dan Hoover said of playing Bradley. "It's a community thing. It's a great way to start the season. A lot of them played together coming up through the years. It's a celebration of their hard work and what they've brought to the soccer field."
The Wildcats visit Darby on Aug. 29.
Among the key returnees is senior defender Charlie Riddle, who had a team-high seven goals last season and was named first-team all-league and third-team all-district in Division I.
Ely was second-team all-league and Carrier was honorable mention all-league last year.
Other returnees are seniors Josh Augustine (forward), Cole Donnellon (defender), Daiki Matsuoka (forward) and Jacob Wells (defender) and juniors Peter Nash (midfielder) and Lorenzo Nieves (goalie).
"We're looking pretty good," Hoover said. "We have some experience. A lot of our juniors who started last year, they're now seniors. We have some good senior leadership. We're looking to do some damage."
Also on the team are seniors Christian Lopez (defender) and Matthew Potts (forward), juniors Marco Perez Jr. (defender) and Omar Shaaban (forward) and sophomores Lucas Baker (defender), Sam Holden (forward), Carson Puhl (midfielder), Owen Smallwood (midfielder), Dylan Syvilayrack (midfielder) and Yusei Tsunematsu (midfielder).
"This is probably one the deepest teams I've ever coached," Hoover said. "There's going to be a lot of minutes for a lot of guys. One of our strengths is our depth. We have a really good sophomore class and a good freshmen class. We should be OK.
"I love this time of the year. It's what I live for. We have to keep working hard, but we have all the tools to put a very successful season together. It's just going to come down to our leadership, our captains, our mental discipline and just playing our game."
Girls soccer team has high goals
Fourth-year girls soccer coach Heather Coonfare is optimistic about her team given that it returns 13 players after finishing 12-4-2 overall last season.
Davidson opened Aug. 16 by tying Bradley at 1 as sophomore midfielder/forward Khadija Seck scored and sophomore goalie Audrey Gibson-Zweifel had three saves.
"We have high expectations, but we're going to take it one game at a time," Coonfare said.
The Wildcats begin OCC-Central play Sept. 10 at Coffman. Last season, they went 4-1 in the league to finish second behind the Shamrocks (4-0-1).
"Coffman has been our downfall the last couple of years in the OCC," Coonfare said. "It's been the same story, coming in second to Coffman. We know that's a must-win game for us."
Among the returnees is senior forward Sonia Vargas, who was named first-team all-district and all-league and second-team all-state last year despite missing the latter part of the season with a knee injury.
Other key returnees are senior forward Alivia Wile (second-team all-league), sophomore forward Sydney Thompson (special mention all-league) and senior defender Ellie Brorein (honorable mention all-league).
Also back are seniors Aidan Everett (midfielder), Erin Kodger (defender/midfielder) and Gretta Syrett (midfielder), juniors Megan Harper (midfielder), Grace Royer (forward), Kayla Stischok (forward) and Sydney Stover (defender) and sophomores Kate Kodger (forward) and Elizabeth Wile (defender).
Also looking to contribute are sophomores Kayleigh Doherty (defender) and Kierstyn Liming (forward) and freshmen Emma Wells (midfielder) and Ella Wickham (goalie).
Liming is a transfer from Teays Valley.
"I can't believe my seniors were freshmen the first year I was here, so it's definitely a little bittersweet," Coonfare said. "They're a really good group and they've played together for a long time."
Below are the coming schedules for the Davidson boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 26 -- Darby at Darby Creek
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Central at Apple Valley
Aug. 22 -- Olentangy at Oakhaven
Aug. 27 -- Darby at Mentel Memorial
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Central at Mental Memorial
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Chillicothe
Aug. 27 -- At Olentangy Liberty
Aug. 22 -- At Dublin Jerome
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Liberty
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Aug. 26 -- At Westerville Central
*Aug. 27 -- At Upper Arlington
Aug. 22 -- At Olentangy Orange
Aug. 24 -- Home vs. Darby, Pickerington Central and Watkins Memorial in Sharon Huesman Memorial Quad
Aug. 27 -- At Liberty