Upper Arlington Roundup: Boys team hopes to reach next goals

DAVE PURPURA
dpurpura@thisweeknews.com
Senior forward Alex Woods is among the top scorers for the Upper Arlington boys soccer team, which returns nine starters from last year's squad that went 13-5-2 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Central Division.

Upper Arlington boys soccer coach Kevin Donovan listed his team's goals for this season like a checklist, and although the Golden Bears fell agonizingly short of a Division I district championship last fall, their objectives for this year haven't changed.

UA's first goal is to win the OCC-Central Division, then to play in a district final and build from there.

With nine starters returning from a team that went 13-5-2 overall and 4-1 in the league, Donovan hopes UA is poised to build on last year's achievements after the season ended with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to eventual state runner-up Olentangy Liberty in a district final.

"Every year our goal is to play to win the OCC-Central. We have yet to do it," said Donovan, whose team was 1-1-1 before facing DeSales on Sept. 3. "The other goal we had last year was to play in a district final, and we achieved that. We think there's enough talent in our program year over year to consistently make that kind of run in the playoffs.

"No one cares what we did last year, though. As I always say, every year is a different dynamic and obviously we have to solve more than just the soccer stuff this year. How disciplined we are away from the field might just determine how far we go."

Two of the Bears' top four scorers return in senior forwards Perry Stevenson (8 goals) and Alex Woods (5 goals) as well as the entire defense, which allowed 10 goals in 18 games excluding two losses to Liberty.

UA's leading scorer, 2020 graduate and second-team all-state honoree Joe Cannon, had 14 goals.

The Bears' other returning starters are seniors Matthew Acock (forward), Nate Erre (defender), Alex Kennedy (defender), Sergio Ly (midfielder), Sam Milburn (defender) and Mac Scholl (goalie) and junior Evan D'Herete (defender). Erre was first-team all-league a year ago.

UA opened Aug. 21 with a 1-all tie at Grove City and lost 1-0 to Dublin Jerome at home on a late goal Aug. 27. The Bears picked up their first victory by defeating Westerville Central 2-0 on Sept. 1 behind goals from Erre and Stevenson.

"We have 15 seniors and these guys have worked harder away from the field than any group I've had," Donovan said. "(Offensively), we will replace those goals (lost to graduation) by committee, with a lot of guys capable of filling the net."

Rounding out the roster are seniors Tyler Grimm (midfielder), Ian McLaughlin (defender), Nick Mitchell (defender), Joshua Shepherd (forward), Duke Takanashi (midfielder) and Alex Trifelos (defender/midfielder), juniors Luke Bracken (defender), Max Collier (forward), Theo Constantinides (forward), Ethan Howe (forward/midfielder) and Zac Yoakam (defender/midfielder) and sophomores Miles Bonham (midfielder) and Zach Harrison (goalie).

Yoakam is also the kicker for the UA football team.

UA begins OCC-Central play Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Hilliard Bradley.

As part of conference realignment, UA and Liberty are in the same league for the first time since 2015. The Patriots allowed only one goal in the postseason until losing 4-0 to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the state final.

"With conference realignment, things just got tougher (in regards to winning the league)," Donovan said. "We like our team, though."

Reisz leading girls squad

Tennessee commit Abby Reisz and senior sisters Bailey Farrell and Piper Farrell, both Wooster commits, are among eight returning starters for the girls soccer team, which was 3-0-1 after defeating Westerville Central 6-3 on Sept. 1.

Reisz, a junior, formerly played forward before moving into goal, a position she played at lower levels, for this season and potentially beyond.

UA returns its top two scorers in senior forward Hailie Clark and junior midfielder Cecilia Dapino, both of whom scored seven goals as the Bears went 6-10-1 a year ago.

The other returning starters are senior Adiah Bonham (defender) and juniors Camryn Callaghan (midfielder) and Sophie Esquinas (midfielder). The Farrell sisters are defenders.

"We have a talented group that is full of energy. We're adapting to a different formation that will be exciting on the field to watch," first-year coach Andrew Kessinger said. "We're still learning each other's tendencies, but I'm very optimistic after seeing how many chances we created in our first match at Grove City (a 1-all tie Aug. 21)."

Freshman Sally Patton started the opener in goal because Reisz was injured.

Kessinger was hired in February to replace Chris Merrick, who went 50-39-20 overall and 15-11-8 in the OCC-Central in six seasons and led the Bears to a district championship in 2015.

UA defeated visiting Westerville North 4-2 on Aug. 25 and edged host Jerome 1-0 two nights later.

Rounding out the roster are senior Senna Mieth (midfielder), juniors Kyle Baugh (defender), Rachel Leach (midfielder) and Bridget Mitchell (defender), sophomores Cate Geog (defender), Audrey Schoemer (forward), Maren Stamm (midfielder) and Kampbell Stone (forward) and freshmen Lottie Spaine (forward) and Aubrey Steiner (forward).

The Bears begin OCC-Central play Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Bradley.

"We're a young squad but very motivated and ready to get UA girls soccer back in the conversation for (a district title)," Kessinger said. "We'll be led by our upperclassmen, but some sophomores and freshmen will be key to our success as well."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

At a glance

BOYS SOCCER

*Coach: Kevin Donovan, fourth season

*Top players: Nate Erre, Sergio Ly, Mac Scholl, Perry Stevenson and Alex Woods

*Key losses: Joe Cannon and Anthony Reisman

*Last season: 13-5-2 overall

*2019 OCC-Central standings: Hilliard Davidson (5-0), Upper Arlington (4-1), Dublin Coffman (3-2), Marysville (2-3), Westland (1-4), Central Crossing (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Defeated Franklin Heights 14-0; def. Olentangy Berlin 1-0 (OT); def. Gahanna 2-0; lost to Olentangy Liberty 1-0 (2OT) in Division I district final

GIRLS SOCCER

*Coach: Andrew Kessinger, first season

*Top players: Adiah Bonham, Camryn Callaghan, Hailie Clark, Piper Farrell and Abby Reisz

*Key losses: Sydney Lape, Katerina Regules, Ellena Schildmeyer, Carolyn Stehle and Grace Wild

*Last season: 6-10-1 overall

*2019 OCC-Central standings: Coffman (5-0), Davidson (4-1), Marysville (3-2), UA (2-3), Central Crossing (1-4), Westland (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Lost to Canal Winchester 1-0 in first round of Division I district tournament

Senior forward Hailie Clark returns for the Upper Arlington girls soccer team after scoring seven goals as the Bears went 6-10-1 last season.