After advancing to the Division II state tournament a season ago, the Columbus Academy boys soccer team has its sights set on another postseason run.
The Vikings have returned to Division III after playing in Division II the past three seasons. They lost to Tipp City Tippecanoe 1-0 in a state semifinal a year ago to finish 13-4-5 overall and went 2-1-3 in the MSL-Ohio Division to place third behind co-champions Wellington and Worthington Christian (4-0-2).
Academy lost its first two games this season and began league play Sept. 2 against Bexley.
"The kids are finding themselves," said coach Ron Leach, who is in his 16th season. "They're highly motivated. They're still on a learning curve and once we get off the learning curve, the team can perform well."
The top returnee is senior midfielder Jonah Houston, who was second-team all-league and third-team all-district last season.
The Vikings must replace 2020 graduate Sam Massick, who led the team in scoring last season with 33 goals and 14 assists. He was named first-team all-state, all-district and all-league.
"Going to state is still on my mind, but I'd rather have the guys focused on taking the season one game at a time," Houston said. "It's still not fully clear that we'll have the entire season (because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic), so I want every single guy on the team to treat each game like it's our last, but if we make it to state again that's amazing."
Senior defender Jared Kass was second-team all-league, and senior Luke Budzik returns at goalie.
Also back are seniors Finn Cassady (defender), Grant Edwards (midfielder), Campbell Gwin (defender), Sonari Hart (midfielder) and Ebube Nwoke (midfielder), juniors Max Popp (midfielder), David Wunsch (midfielder) and Zach White (defender) and sophomores Gabe Eribo (forward) and Leo Kass (midfielder).
Other players are seniors Vassar Barney (midfielder), Rowan Hennessy (defender), Josh Tu (defender) and Arie Tuckerman (midfielder), juniors Omar Drissi (midfielder), Arden Preza (midfielder) and Malachy Sullivan (midfielder), sophomore Charlie Tuckerman (forward) and freshman Noah Houston (defender).
Drissi is a transfer from Cincinnati Seven Hills.
Charlie Tuckerman scored both goals in a 3-2 loss Aug. 25 to Grove City, a Division I program.
Girls soccer team has lofty goals
After reaching a Division III state semifinal last fall, the girls soccer team entered the season with high expectations.
Academy lost to Cincinnati Country Day 4-2 in a state semifinal to finish 16-4-2 overall. The Vikings won the MSL-Ohio title at 8-0, ahead of second-place Bexley and Grandview (6-2).
Academy opened the season Sept. 2 against Grandview.
"I'm still trying to determine where all the pieces are going to fit," said coach Matt Thompson, who is in his fourth season. "Last year is behind us. It was a fantastic run, but we have a new team, a new culture, a new set of leaders, so we're trying to move forward."
The returnees are led by senior midfielder/forward Katie Schiano, who led the Vikings in scoring last season with 14 goals and three assists and was first-team all-league.
Junior goalie Sophie Spolter (97 saves) was second-team all-league. Senior defender Hannah Clay and junior forward/midfielder Aniah Crockett were honorable mention all-league.
Also back is senior forward Olivia Archibald, who had 12 goals and two assists.
Other returnees are seniors Allison Bergman (mid-fielder/defender), Ashwini Gunawardena (defender/midfielder) and Maggie Walther (forward/defender), juniors Evie Gee (midfielder/for-ward/defender), Liesel Goldfarb (midfielder/defender), Kennedy Jackson (defender), Mary Kate Prall (mid-fielder/forward), Diana Ulbrich (midfielder/defender) and Emma Yakam (mid-fielder/forward) and sophomores Claire Cahall (midfielder/defender), Jasmine Evans (midfielder) and Georgia Gross (forward).
Also looking to contribute are senior Regina Ortiz (defender), sophomores Noel Sedlock (goalie) and Ashley Tu (midfielder) and freshmen Allison Chen (mid-fielder/defender), Ella Lowrie (midfielder/defender/forward) and Samantha Whitson (midfielder/defender).
"I have some good depth, which is a good problem to have," Thompson said.
"We have the most girls that we've had in the program since I took over, which was part of the goal I had in taking over the program. We'll have to do some things differently than we have in the last few years, but that's OK."
The Vikings lost three players to graduation, including defender Sarah Neltner, who was league Player of the Year and first-team all-state and all-district.