Girls Soccer: Westerville North not expecting drop-off under new coach

SCOTT HENNEN
shennen@thisweeknews.com
Alison Rothmann, a junior midfielder who was second-team all-league after scoring eight goals last season, is among the key returnees for North and new coach Jason McLead.John Hulkenberg/ThisWeek

The Westerville North girls soccer team won its first Division I district championship since 2007 last fall, and now will try to repeat the feat with a new coach.

Jason McLead takes over for Ricky Konkolewski, who left to coach the Olentangy Liberty boys after guiding the Warriors to a district title and a district runner-up finish in his two seasons.

North returns its top two scorers in senior forward Makayla Parry (first-team all-district and all-league; 12 goals, 7 assists) and junior midfielder Alison Rothmann (second-team all-league; 8 goals, 3 assists).

"These girls learned that winning standard," said McLead, who inherited a team that finished 15-4-1 overall and third (3-2) in the OCC-Buckeye Division behind champion Olentangy Orange (5-0). "I just think they have the same expectations every time they step on the field. They expect to win."

The Warriors have a strong midfield with Rothmann back along with juniors Sophie Bordron and Zoey Ward and sophomore Cori Bohan. McLead also likes the team's scoring potential with Parry, junior forward Chloe Robertson and freshman forward Josie Gruber.

"Coach wants us to play every game hard until the end. Even if we're winning, we have to keep going," Robertson said. "We know that if we keep playing hard, we can continue to do well."

Senior Allison Bolen, juniors Jolie Helt and Lilia Monzalvo and sophomore Patrica Moore are top defenders. Senior Maggie Moc and sophomore Gaby Mecurio will be the goalies, replacing two-year starter Abby Markley, who graduated.

"One of my concerns is our fitness because of the lack of scrimmages (because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic) and lack of playing together as a team," said McLead, who was an assistant with the Orange boys program last fall.

"We don't have the cohesiveness that we normally would have coming out of those four scrimmages. Those help give you more of an idea what you need to do than from just playing intrasquad in practice."

North defeated Gahanna 1-0 on Aug. 21, lost to Upper Arlington 4-2 on Aug. 25 and defeated Westerville Central 3-0 on Aug. 27.

The Warriors have moved to the OCC-Capital, joining Big Walnut, Canal Winchester, Delaware, Dublin Scioto, Franklin Heights, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.

They opened league play with an 18-0 victory over Franklin Heights on Sept. 1.

Warhawks look to rebound

Central is looking to bounce back after finishing 6-11-1 a year ago.

The Warhawks started with victories over Big Walnut (2-0 on Aug. 21) and Newark (4-0 on Aug. 25), but followed with setbacks against North (3-0 on Aug. 27) and Upper Arlington (6-3 on Sept. 1).

Central, which went 1-4 in the OCC-Buckeye last season, begins play in the OCC-Ohio at Pickerington North on Tuesday, Sept. 15.

Other OCC-Ohio teams after the latest conference realignment are Gahanna, Grove City, New Albany and Westland.

"Our division is still strong," said coach Bobby Weimer, who is in his sixth season. "Our goal at the beginning is to contend for championships. We're young. We lost eight seniors from last year's team and several of those seniors played key roles for two or three years. We lost a lot of experience, so we've had to adjust some things."

Senior midfielder Lauryn White, who missed last season after a second left ACL surgery, has returned and should provide a boost, according to Weimer.

"She looks good, so I'm excited to see what she can do," Weimer said. "I'm happy for her. She's put in a lot of hard work throughout the last year and a half to try and get back and play."

Sophomore Natalie Koenig (defender/midfielder) was special mention all-league, and other returnees are seniors Nina Dominik (forward), Ella Fortin (defender), Erin Hunley (midfielder), Kaycee Johnston (defender) and Margaret Owsiany (forward), juniors Ashley Carson (for-ward/midfielder), Taylor Hickman (defender/goalie) and Megan Schimmel (forward) and sophomores Rylee Mensel (forward/midfielder) and Elena Summanen (goalie).

The roster also includes juniors Rebekah Fannin (defender) and Dylan Lewis (defender/midfielder), sophomores Kyndall Bell (forward), Taylor Himmelreich (defender) and Kassie Myers (defender/midfielder) and freshmen Alessandra Boo (forward/midfielder) and Avery Vukmanic (goalie).

Weimer said Hickman, Summanen and Vukmanic have been competing for time at goalie.

"We're still trying to figure out how the pieces fit together and what might be the best approach for our group," Weimer said. "We have some decent athleticism that we can build off. We have some good speed and quickness, but you can definitely see our youth and inexperience at times because we're somewhat inconsistent with our level of play."

--Frank DiRenna

Wildcats have new coach

Jeremy Watson, who led the junior varsity boys team at South for four years, has replaced Mark Wise as coach after Wise led the Wildcats for six seasons.

Watson is a 2002 graduate of Thomas Worthington, where he played soccer before also playing at Columbus State in 2003 and 2004.

"I've had my eye on this job for a little bit," Watson said. "We had close ties with the program, so I got a chance to watch the girls play every year. It was easy to keep my eye on their progress and see how they were doing. Getting the opportunity to be with the girls has been great so far."

South, which lost its first three games, opened OCC-Capital play with a 3-0 loss to visiting Scioto on Sept. 1.

South has no seniors, and Watson said that means the Wildcats have a chance to build for the future.

"The season is a marathon, not a sprint, so they have to understand where they are and where we're trying to go with the program," Watson said. "I'm going to have a lot of these girls for the next two years, so we have a chance to do something really special if they can buy into what I'm trying to teach them and take this program to the next level."

Junior forward Ellise Riggs led the team last season with five goals, and sophomore goalie Allie Kotik also is back. She had 11 saves against Scioto.

Other returnees are juniors Anna Deichert (defender), Alleah Ebbinghaus (defender) and Brooke Holloway (defender) and sophomore Ava Kellar (defender).

Also looking to contribute are juniors Harper Fullen (defender/midfielder) and Moira Long (forward), sophomores Alena Keegan (midfielder), Bailey Mulick (midfielder), Aubri Myers (defender/midfielder), Alison Reynolds (midfielder/for-ward) and Kenzie Stokes (midfielder/forward) and freshmen Abby Board (goalie), Emma Champe (goalie), Abby Colvin (midfielder/forward), Kaitlyn Ford (defender), Teagan Fullen (defender), Aaliyah Griffith (defender), Rylee Jennings (defender/midfielder), Emmy McLaughlin (defender/forward), Madison Millington (defender/midfielder) and Addi Varney (midfielder/forward).

--Frank DiRenna

Stallions working for resurgence

One of first-year DeSales coach Chris Froehlich's top priorities -- in addition to maintaining his team's status as a CCL power -- is making the Stallions one of the top teams in the area and beyond.

DeSales, which was 1-2 before playing Delaware on Sept. 3, is seeking its first winning season since 2016. The Stallions have not won more than five games in a year since then and went 4-12-2 overall last year but 2-1 in the CCL.

Seniors Stefanie Karras (forward), Gabby Mahaffey (defender) and Gracey Wilson (defender) and juniors Abby Groff (goalie), Kylie Hast (midfielder) and Sophia Hipolite (midfielder) are among the key returnees. Karras tied 2020 graduate Lily Jones for the team lead in goals last year with three.

Hippolite and Mahaffey had two each.

"Expectations are high especially with this group and the amount of starters we have returning," Froehlich said. "Our defense has come up huge for us, especially at times in the opener versus (Dublin) Coffman (a 3-1 loss on Aug. 21). Our defense will continue to be our focus as one of top strengths as well as getting the midfield up to speed and our forwards. Overall, though, our defense will be our biggest strength."

Froehlich, a 2011 graduate of DeSales, succeeds Bob McGee, who coached the Stallions on an interim basis last year. Froehlich, who was part of the boys soccer team's 2009 Division II state championship, spent the past three years as New Albany's girls junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant.

DeSales defeated host Lancaster 2-0 on Aug. 25 and fell 3-1 at Marysville on Aug. 27.

Rounding out the roster are seniors Carmella Cua (goalie), Mattea Romanelli (forward) and Haley Weis (defender), juniors Katie Farina (forward), Isabella Gagliardi (defender), Emma James (defender), Phoebe Kraus (defender), Maddie McNamara (defen-der), Abbie Phelps (midfielder) and Josie Zyskowski (goalie) and sophomores Ava Kreuzer (midfielder), Bryn Klingbeil (defender), Jennifer Mitevski (forward) and Atenas Ramirez (midfielder).

The Stallions begin CCL play Sept. 17 at home against defending league champion Watterson.

--Dave Purpura

sports@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSports

At a glance

WESTERVILLE CENTRAL

*Coach: Bobby Weimer, sixth season

*Top players: Taylor Hickman, Natalie Koenig, Megan Schimmel, Elena Summanen and Lauryn White

*Key losses: Maria Givens, Nya Olmsted and Kate Schimmel

*Last season: 6-11-1 overall

*2019 OCC-Buckeye standings: Olentangy Orange (5-0), Olentangy (4-1), Westerville North (3-2), Olentangy Liberty (2-3), Westerville Central (1-4), Westerville South (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Defeated Newark 2-0; lost to Dublin Coffman 1-0 in Division I district semifinal

WESTERVILLE NORTH

*Coach: Jason McLead, first season

*Top players: Cori Bohan, Sophie Bordron, Josie Gruber, Lilia Monzalvo, Patricia Moore, Makayla Parry, Chloe Robertson, Alison Rothmann and Zoey Ward

*Key losses: Allie Balasico, Hannah Cripe, Nia Hassey, Morgan Kalista, Emily Kellar, Abby Markley, Courtnee Murphy, Ryan Nolder, Melissa Szwaranskyj and Alyssa Wright

*Last season: 15-4-1 overall

*2019 OCC-Buckeye standings: Orange (5-0), Olentangy (4-1), North (3-2), Liberty (2-3), Central (1-4), South (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Def. Franklin Heights 14-0; def. Grove City 4-0; def. Hilliard Bradley 1-0; lost to Dublin Coffman 3-0 in Division I regional semifinal

WESTERVILLE SOUTH

*Coach: Jeremy Watson, first season

*Top players: Ava Kellar, Allie Kotik and Ellise Riggs

*Key losses: Ruthie Curry, Mae Riggs, Emma Secrest and Sunny Weisenberger

*Last season: 2-15 overall

*2019 OCC-Buckeye standings: Orange (5-0), Olentangy (4-1), North (3-2), Liberty (2-3), Central (1-4), South (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Lost to Newark 3-0 in first round of Division I district tournament

DESALES

*Coach: Chris Froehlich, first season

*Top players: Abby Groff, Kylie Hast, Stefanie Karras and Gabby Mahaffey

*Key losses: Morgan Gehrlich and Lily Jones

*Last season: 4-12-2 overall

*2019 CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Hartley (1-2), Ready (0-3)

*2019 postseason: Def. Hartley 1-0; lost to Olentangy 7-0 in second round of Division I district tournament