Hartley Roundup: New coach Justin Alexander working to rejuvenate boys squad
Justin Alexander is in his first season as Hartley boys soccer coach, but he believes he has a keen understanding of the roller-coaster ride that sometimes can be involved in playing the sport.
A 2012 Hartley graduate, Alexander was a sophomore starting goalie when the Hawks were Division II district runners-up in 2009.
He then served as a backup for two seasons at Ohio Dominican before moving into the starting role. As a senior, he started 18 games and earned honorable mention all-GLIAC honors.
Alexander then became an assistant at Hartley under former coach Chris Kowalski, who led the Hawks to a district title in 2015 and a district runner-up finish in 2016.
The Hawks then had losing records each of the past three seasons, including going 6-10-1 and falling in the first round of the Division I district tournament last season.
Hartley has dropped to Division II but is playing mostly Division I programs this season. It opened Sept. 8 against DeSales.
"Our attendance has been very good all summer," Alexander said. "We've gone through the highs of winning a district championship to winning four games (in 2017). We're looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish with this group."
Taking over at goalie after serving as center back last season is junior Emmett Gillies, with junior Nick McCloud as the backup.
Senior center midfielder Nahom Chegen, who was one of the team's top offensive players last season, and senior defender Riley Sheehan are leading the way.
Seniors Ryan Hawk (forward) and Declan O'Brien (midfielder), juniors Tony Epstein (wing), Alex Gabriel (defender) and Kieran McJoynt-Griffith (wing) and sophomore Colin Callahan (wing) also are key returnees.
Ako Nwokolo (forward) rounds out the senior class.
Others looking to contribute are juniors Gabe Clark (outside back), Gabe Donaghy (midfielder), Isaiah Gesesse (defender), Jacob Leatherman (defender), Jacob Scurlock (defender) and Tyler Woods (wing).
"It's about putting them in the right spots to excel as a player," Alexander said.
Much of girls soccer team has returned
The girls soccer team has a new coach in Jenn Moore, a 2010 Hartley graduate who served as an assistant the past four seasons. She succeeded Andrew Jahahn, who stepped down after three seasons but has remained in the program as an assistant.
Hartley, which opened with a 1-0 loss to Delaware on Aug. 27, begins CCL action Sept. 17 at Ready.
The Hawks went 5-7-4 overall and 1-2 in the league last season. They lost 1-0 to CCL champion DeSales in the regular season and by the same score in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Hartley is now competing in Division II.
"We have a pretty good returning amount of players and have phenomenal leadership," Moore said. "We definitely have very high hopes for this program, especially since we're now back in Division II. We feel really good about that."
Seniors Emma Bergman (midfielder) and Emily Sanzone (goalie) and juniors Emily Knox (defender) and Olivia Ralston (midfielder) are the top returnees.
Juniors Sydney Collins and Mackenzie Dewitt are leading the forward line, with senior Maddy Smith and sophomore Megan Sheehan serving as key midfielders.
Senior Caitlin Smith provides depth at goalie.
Rounding out the senior class are Emily Casto (midfielder) and Julia Reinker (midfielder/defender).
Others in the program are juniors Karli Barringer (defender), Ellie Morrow (defender) and Josie Zang (midfielder), sophomores Abby Dinardo (midfielder), Morgan Donnelly (defender), Sydney Eads (defender) and Cece Woods (defender) and freshmen Anna Casto (midfielder), Kendall Ramsey (midfielder) and Ashley Velasquez (forward/midfielder).
"I feel like our entire program has shown a bunch of growth and will be a force," Moore said.
At a glance
*Coach: Justin Alexander, first season
*Top players: Colin Callahan, Nahom Chegen, Alex Gabriel, Emmett Gillies, Ryan Hawk, Ako Nwokolo, Declan O'Brien and Riley Sheehan
*Key losses: Carter Bjornson, Caleb Franz, Matthew Nash, C.J. Parnell, Sean Price, Myles Smith, Jason Steward, Juston Steward and Aaron Vina
*Last season: 6-10-1 overall
*2019 CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), DeSales (3-1), Hartley (1-2-1), Watterson (1-2-1), Ready (0-4)
*2019 postseason: Lost to Westerville Central 5-0 in first round of Division I district tournament
*Coach: Jenn Moore, first season
*Top players: Emma Bergman, Sydney Collins, Mackenzie Dewitt, Emily Knox, Olivia Ralston, Emily Sanzone, Megan Sheehan and Maddy Smith
*Key losses: Sophia Cegledy, Helena Donaghy, Caroline Leatherman, Lauren Sauer, Emily Valin and Kaelyn Walther
*Last season: 5-7-4 overall
*2019 CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Hartley (1-2), Ready (0-3)
*2019 postseason: Lost to DeSales 1-0 in first round of Division I district tournament