Reynoldsburg Roundup: Boys soccer team making adjustments
By the time it took the field Aug. 27 at Westerville South, the Reynoldsburg boys soccer team had played two games but had gotten in only a handful of training sessions.
Fifth-year coach Tony Labudovski believes the Raiders ultimately will be able to compensate for their lack of a preseason, but there could be some growing moments in the meantime after they lost 14 players to graduation.
Last season, Reynoldsburg went 13-2-3 overall and 4-0-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division to capture its first league title since 2002.
This fall, the Raiders have moved to the OCC-Buckeye, where they join Central Crossing, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark and Pickerington Central.
"(The offseason was) weird for everybody with us not knowing what's going to happen and everybody had to adjust," Labudovski said. "The thing is that at least we have a season so let's let the kids enjoy it. We lost 14 seniors, so it's kind of a year where kids have to fill a role and who's going to fill the leadership of what we lost. We've been in pods since June 3 until the middle of August. We haven't really trained much. We've got to mature quickly. We have moments where we look good and just like every other team, we've got to work on things, but we should be OK."
Senior Brady Frydl is starting his third season at goalie for the Raiders, who were 2-2 after beating Westland 3-0 on Sept. 1. The Raiders open league action Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Groveport.
Senior forward Veron Fonegh, senior wing Crofton McDevitt and junior forward Ibby Fall are expected to fill the void offensively following the loss of 2020 graduate Nick Wallace, who scored 22 goals last season.
Rounding out the senior class are Amir Abuka (midfielder/forward), John Hayes (forward), Noah Paas (midfielder), Monty Rollins (defender), Brian Priest (forward), Som Subedi (center midfielder) and Devin Vongsavath (defender).
Sophomore Nic Phanthavong is a returning midfielder.
Others looking to contribute include juniors Abubacarr Badje (midfielder), Nassir Disuki (midfielder) and Abdi Nurr (forward) and sophomore Carson McCroskey (defender).
Junior Nate Bakenhaster, sophomore Brennan Fox and freshmen Anthony Alioto and Landon Miars could be used at multiple positions.
"We've got to build chemistry and come together quickly," Labudovski said. "We're organized, which is traditionally what (has been a strength for) Reynoldsburg."
New girls soccer coach optimistic
After Sam Abate stepped down as girls soccer coach because his job took him out of the area, Reynoldsburg turned to a coaching veteran, Chris Merrick, to lead its program.
Merrick went 50-39-20 the last six seasons as Upper Arlington's girls coach, including leading the Golden Bears to a Division I district title in 2015, and already had worked with the Raiders' top two returnees, seniors Ryanne Buck and Cassidy Collins, at the club level.
Buck is an Ohio Dominican commit who had 20 goals last season, and Collins scored 22 a season ago.
The Raiders got four goals from Buck in a 10-0 victory over Westland on Sept. 1 that improved their record to 2-3 before facing Westerville Central on Sept. 8.
They open OCC-Buckeye action Tuesday, Sept. 15, at home against Groveport.
"Ryanne Buck and Cassidy Collins both play club for me and those are my two captains," Merrick said. "My starting 11 is a pretty solid group. They're probably the best as far as club level playing at the highest level, but I've got a lot of players that have potential. If we can get enough players on the same page, we can be a pretty decent team."
The only other senior is Natalia Cooper, a forw-ard/defender who has been out with an injury.
Juniors Leah Delancey (midfielder), Olivia Dulay (defender), Sydney Frydl (center back) and Baylie Phillips (center midfielder) also are key returnees.
Junior Abby Starkey has taken over at goalie after the Raiders had 2020 graduates Alissa Richmond and Alexis Sheffield split time last season.
Juniors Carly Jones (defender) and Joleigh Robinson (forward), sophomore Maya Johnson (def-ender/midfielder) and freshman Lauren Delancey (defender) also are key players.
Others in the program include juniors Paige Costello (midfielder/forward), Anna Haines (forward), Ellie Hofmeister (midfielder), Alexa Leach (defender) and Evelyn Verplaste (forward), sophomore Cameran Ball (midfielder) and freshman Addison Muck (midfielder).
At a glance
*Coach: Tony Labudovski, fifth season
*Top players: Amir Abuka, Ibby Fall, Veron Fonegh, Brady Frydl, John Hayes, Crofton McDevitt, Nic Phanthavong and Devin Vongsavath
*Key losses: Collin Bradley, Yobiel Fishation, Jackson Harms, Gabe McCarroll, Pawan Rai, Nate Russell and Nick Wallace
*Last season: 13-2-3 overall
*2019 OCC-Ohio standings: Reynoldsburg (4-0-1), Pickerington North (3-0-2), Pickerington Central (3-2), Gahanna (2-3), Grove City (1-3-1), Lancaster (0-5)
*2019 postseason: Defeated Independence 2-1 (OT); lost to New Albany 2-1 (5-3 shootout) in second round of
Division I district tournament
*Coach: Chris Merrick, first season
*Top players: Ryanne Buck, Cassidy Collins, Leah Delancey, Olivia Dulay, Sydney Frydl, Baylie Phillips and Abby Starkey
*Key losses: Maya Carter, Leah Delco, Kayla Ferguson, Olivia Kirksey, Elysia LaPrade, Jessica Ricks and Jillian Straughter
*Last season: 9-7-1 overall
*2019 OCC-Ohio standings: Grove City (4-0-1), Gahanna (3-0-2), Pickerington North (3-1-1), Pickerington Central (2-3), Reynoldsburg (1-4), Lancaster (0-5)
*2019 postseason: Lost to Dublin Scioto 1-0 (OT) in first round of Division I district tournament