With several returning players and an influx of several promising athletes, Westerville Central boys soccer coach Dave Pence believes his team has potential.
In fact, he said it's his deepest roster in his 17 seasons guiding the Warhawks.
"We have more depth than we've ever had and it was a very competitive preseason," Pence said. "We still don't have a solid starting 11, but we're going to be playing with a lot more guys than what I normally do. When we sub our play doesn't drop off, which is fantastic. I really do like what I see because we're solid."
The Warhawks, however, got out to a disappointing start by losing 5-0 at Upper Arlington on Aug. 16. Junior goalkeeper Sam Rojanasakdakul had five saves.
Central bounced back by defeating visiting Watkins Memorial 5-0 on April 19.
The Warhawks open OCC-Buckeye Division play Sept. 9 at Westerville North. Last season, the Warhawks finished 12-4-4 overall and placed second (2-1-2) in the league behind Olentangy Liberty (5-0).
The Patriots ended Central's 2018 season with a 6-1 win in a Division I district final. The teams meet Oct. 3 at Liberty.
"That division is brutal," Pence said. "Every game you play in that division is a battle. It doesn't matter if teams are up or down."
The Warhawks have several holes to fill, especially in goal with the loss of 2019 graduate and four-year starter Jacob Borcila, who is now a freshman kicker on the football team at Kansas. Last season, Borcila was named league Player of the Year, first-team all-district and second-team all-state.
Rojanasakdakul and sophomore Jack Fowler should split time in goal this season.
"We've haven't decided on a starter yet," Pence said. "They're both competing every day and the great thing is whichever one starts, they're going to give us a great chance to win."
Senior defender Tyrone Rukoro and junior midfielder Enrique Monzalvo were second-team all-league last season, and sophomore defender Brad Leonard was special mention all-league.
"Brad is very good," Pence said. "That sophomore class is a special class."
Also back is senior forward Alex Perrini, who agrees this could be a special season.
"Our expectations have increased," he said. "The depth of this team is definitely greater. We put 21 (players) on varsity. We don't normally do that. It shows the amount of depth that we have and the guys are very skilled players."
Other returnees are seniors Aaron Milliren (midfielder), Michael Nguyen (midfielder), Nick Schuck (forward) and Zach Smith (defender) and juniors Rollie Crawford (midfielder), Patrick Curran (midfielder) and Kyle Stewart (forward).
Other players are juniors Matt Alloway (forward) and Josh Gontkovic (midfielder) and sophomores Jack Bumbico, Gabe Schuck (forward), Aidan Nowell (defender), Jack Roberts (defender), Nathan Seabury (midfielder) and Trent Wendling (defender).
Girls soccer team opens with win
The girls soccer team opened with a 3-1 win over Bexley on Aug. 16 at home.
Senior forward Kate Schimmel, junior forward Erin Hunley and sophomore forward Megan Schimmel all scored. Sophomore Taylor Hickman (2) and freshman Elena Summanen (5) combined for seven saves in goal.
"We have a lot of things that we need to work on," fifth-year coach Bobby Weimer said. "That wasn't a complete performance, but a win is a win. We have an awful lot of things we need to clean up and work on because we weren't sharp."
Central opens OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 10 against North. Last season, the Warhawks went 10-7-1 overall and 1-4 in the league to tie South for fifth behind champion Olentangy (5-0).
"The OCC-Buckeye is loaded," Weimer said. "Orange is loaded. Olentangy is loaded. Liberty should be really good again. I think our division is probably the best in central Ohio. There's no easy game."
Senior midfielder Maria Givens was special mention all-league last season, and Kate Schimmel was honorable mention all-league.
Other returnees are seniors Anna Bardwell (defender), Nya Olmsted (midfielder/forward), Lindsay Schultz (midfielder) and Kendel Seabury (defender) and junior Margaret Owsiany (forward).
"We have some very experienced players that we're going to lean on," Weimer said. "We have six seniors who have played a lot of varsity minutes."
Junior midfielder Lauryn White, another key returnee, was lost for the season with a left ACL injury.
Other players are seniors Kaitlin Gaines (midfielder/forward) and Morgan Meissner (defender), juniors Nina Domanik (midfielder), Ella Fortin (defender) and Kaycee Johnston (defender), sophomores Ashley Carson (forward) and Tara Will (defender) and freshmen Natalie Koenig (defender) and Rylee Mensel (midfielder/forward).
"This is probably the most athletic team we've had since I've been here, but we're relying on some young kids in spots," Weimer said. "We have three freshmen who are playing some significant minutes and we have to develop some better depth. We don't have a lot of depth right now."
Below are the coming schedules for the Central cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Boys: Pickerington North Classic; Girls: Hartford Twilight Invitational at Hartford Fairgrounds
Aug. 22 -- DeSales at Champions
Aug. 27 -- OCC-Buckeye at Denison Golf Club
Aug. 26 -- Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty and Pickerington North at Oakhaven
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Buckeye at Blacklick Woods
Aug. 22 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
Aug. 24 -- At Thomas Worthington
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
Aug. 24 -- At Thomas
Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Central
*Aug. 22 -- At Westerville North
Aug. 24 -- Wilmington Tennis Tournament
Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Olentangy Orange
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Fairbanks