Gahanna Lincoln Roundup: Girls soccer team closes season on upswing

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Gahanna's Taylor Marcum (right) is expected to be one of the top returnees for the girls soccer team, which finished 8-9-1 overall and fourth at 2-2-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division.

Moments after it beat 32nd-seeded Logan 2-0 on Oct. 21 in its Division I district tournament opener, the Gahanna Lincoln girls soccer team sat in a large circle and began preparing mentally to face fifth-seeded Pickerington North in the next round. 

One player mentioned that the Panthers wouldn’t overlook the Lions considering the teams had played to a scoreless tie Oct. 13. 

The effort 18th-seeded Gahanna showed during a 2-1 loss in the rematch with the Panthers on Oct. 24 lined up well with what had been taking place over the season’s final few weeks. 

After losing seven of its first 11 games, Gahanna closed on an upswing. 

“We started off (the season) a little rough, but we found what we were struggling in and we fixed it,” junior forward Taylor Marcum said. 

Marcum, who scored both goals against Logan, was among the biggest contributors as the Lions won three in a row before the tournament loss. 

Gahanna finished 8-9-1 overall and fourth at 2-2-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division behind champion New Albany (5-0). 

Leading the senior class was midfielder Alexei Whittaker, who missed much of last season with an injury. A Butler recruit, Whittaker had both assists against Logan. 

“She’s a solid player and very technical on the ball,” coach Nick Eley said. “She’s definitely an awesome player to have for the whole year. We missed her last season, so it’s definitely good to have her for the full season.” 

Defenders Hannah Cumbow and Thalia Johnson and forward Natalie Stewart also were key seniors. 

Marcum leads a junior class that also featured Meredith Clay (defender) and Ryanne Michel (defender). 

Sophomore Emily Marzetz was at goalie and sophomores Dalyn Schepman (midfielder) and Jaeda Whittaker (midfielder) and freshmen Emma Groves (midfielder) and Kylie Lewis (defender) also were among those who stepped up, according to Eley. 

“There’s a lot of leadership on the team and a lot of us (from the junior class) have been on varsity since our freshman year, so we’ve been kind of building up for our senior year,” Marcum said. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Malea Erick (defender), Brooke Reed (midfielder), Jocelyn Wyant (midfielder) and Abby Yandrich (forward), sophomores Elizabeth Dietrich (forward) and Mia Sammons (forward) and freshman Abby Onstad (goalie). 

“We've progressed as a team throughout the year, and (we stayed) true to ourselves and our team throughout the year,” Eley said. “I've been happy with the progression, and I’m excited for what next year brings.” 

Boys soccer team 

losing 12 seniors 

The 21st-seeded boys soccer team lost to eighth-seeded St. Charles 3-0 on Oct. 22 in the second round of the Division I district tournament after a first-round bye. 

It was the final game for a 12-member senior class that featured Harrason Ahn (defender/midfielder), Ty Bentley (forward/defender), Jimmy-Luka Dragich (midfielder), Cooper Solomon (defender) and goalies Jacob Cole and Juan Miranda. 

Team leaders were Dragich in goals (six), Solomon in assists (four) and Cole in saves (68). 

The Lions followed a 4-3-1 start by going 0-7-2 over their final nine games, with ties against Sylvania Southview (1-1 on Oct. 3) and Hartley (2-2 on Oct. 10). 

“I’m really proud of the resiliency of this team,” coach Matt Kovach said. “In the preseason dealing with the uncertainty of having a season and limited contact training was difficult, but our guys really kept a great energy.  

“As the season began, we really faced our fair share of adversity. We had eight of our 22 players who missed time to either injury or needing to quarantine for secondary contacts with (COVID-19 coronavirus). … This group never quit.” 

Juniors Niko Kokales (forward) and Brenton Molli (center midfielder) will be in their fourth seasons next fall, and other key returnees are expected to include juniors Jack Highland (midfielder/defender) and Isaiah Payne (outside back) and sophomores Josiah Benjamin (center midfielder), Kelvin Mkwawa (center midfielder) and Owen Onstad (center back). 

Juniors A.J. Addison (defender), Brendon Dorsett (forward) and Brendon Dorsett (forward) also should be back. 

“We believe we have a strong core returning for next season,” Kovach said. “We had several underclassmen play big roles and get good minutes for us this year.” 

Noel Perkins, a freshman setter, helped the girls volleyball team finish 9-8 overall and went 5-1 in the OCC-Ohio.

Volleyball team to 

return strong group 

After beating 30th-seeded Westerville South 25-23, 25-12, 25-17 on Oct. 19 in the first round of the Division I district tournament, the 12th-seeded girls volleyball team nearly rallied from a 2-0 deficit but fell 25-16, 25-15, 23-25, 19-25, 15-9 on Oct. 21 at 11th-seeded Olentangy in the second round. 

The Lions, who were forced to quarantine for two weeks in early October and weren’t able to complete four OCC-Ohio matches, finished 9-8 overall and went 5-1 in the league. 

Westerville Central finished 8-1 and Pickerington North went 7-2 in the league. 

“It was hard being down 0-2 against Olentangy,” coach Ashanti Slone said. “Especially in our last game, they fought hard – the way they wanted to all season.” 

Gahanna is losing a six-member senior class, led by outside hitter Kortney Grimm and defensive specialists Kelsey Cripe, Caitlyn Monaghan, Hani Sampson and Alex VanHorssen. Team leaders were Cripe in digs (181), Sampson in serves received (257) and Grimm in kills (169). 

Juniors Alivia Dials (right-side hitter), Kendall Washington (middle hitter) and Kendall White (setter) and sophomore Audrey Worthington (middle hitter) should be the top returnees. 

White finished second on the team in digs (133) and first in assists (401). 

Others eligible to return include juniors Julianna Grubich (defensive specialist) and Mia Hill (defensive specialist), sophomores Aubrey Carr (utility), Audrey Cotner (outside hitter/right-side hitter), Lindsay Earnheart (right-side hitter/outside hitter) and Jillian Sanders (middle hitter) and freshman Noel Perkins (setter). 

“I don’t think it was the glory season we imagined, but there’s growing pains with every season,” Slone said. “The girls learned a lot and will be ready to learn from each other moving forward.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

BOYS SOCCER 

•Record: 4-10-3 overall 

•OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1), Westerville Central (3-2), Grove City (2-3), Gahanna (1-4), Westland (0-5) 

•Seniors lost: Junior Acosta, Harrason Ahn, Ty Bentley, Destin Carr, Jacob Cole, Alex Couch, Jimmy-Luka Dragich, Phillip Fallon, Kyle Gutridge, Mustapha Kinteh, Juan Miranda and Cooper Solomon 

•Key returnees: Josiah Benjamin, Jack Highland, Niko Kokales, Kelvin Mkwawa, Brenton Molli, Owen Onstad and Isaiah Payne 

•Postseason: Lost to St. Charles 3-0 in second round of Division I district tournament 

GIRLS SOCCER 

•Record: 8-9-1 overall 

•OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Pickerington North (3-1-1), Grove City (3-2), Gahanna (2-2-1), Westerville Central (1-4), Westland (0-5) 

•Seniors lost: Lily Coates, Hannah Cumbow, Thalia Johnson, Caitlyn Monaghan, Alyssa Redmond, Cali Smith, Natalie Stewart and Alexei Whittaker 

•Key returnees: Meredith Clay, Emma Groves, Kylie Lewis, Taylor Marcum, Emily Marzetz, Ryanne Michel and Dalyn Schepman 

•Postseason: Defeated Logan 2-0; lost to Pickerington North 2-1 in second round of Division I district tournament 

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL 

•Record: 9-8 overall 

•OCC-Ohio standings: Westerville Central (8-1), Pickerington North (7-2), Gahanna (5-1), Grove City (4-5), New Albany (2-7), Westland (0-10) 

•Seniors lost: Kelsey Cripe, Kortney Grimm, Hani Sampson, Emily Schweitzer and Alex VanHorssen 

•Key returnees: Kendall Washington, Kendall White and Audrey Worthington 

•Postseason: Defeated Westerville South 25-23, 25-12, 25-17; lost to Olentangy 25-16, 25-15, 23-25, 19-25, 15-9 in second round of Division I district tournament