After the graduation of some key seniors, the Walnut Hills High School girls soccer team will try to remain around the top of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference standings.
Last year’s team was 13-5-2 and 4-1-1 in the ECC for second place. They eventually finished as the regional runner-up, losing a tough 2-1 overtime decision to St. Ursula in late October.
Taking over the Lady Eagles is Kevin Spraul who has experience with the Cincinnati West Soccer Club and Oak Hills High School. Spraul inherits seniors Scout Lacoe, Kenzie Richter, Ally Franke, Olivia Grondin and junior Loren Richardson from last year’s sectional and district champs.
Lacoe and Richardson were ECC second-team picks and 12 players total are back including Walnut’s “back four” and both goalkeepers.
Upcoming games are at Oak Hills Aug. 23 before returning home to battle Anderson Aug. 26. The Lady Eagles play defending league champion Loveland on the road Sept. 23.”The team will be heavily led by seniors looking to leave their mark on the program, as well as a good mix of younger talent,” Spraul said. “The team is looking to grasp their first ECC championship and get even further than last year in the OHSAA tournament.”
Mike Haney grew tired of kissing his proverbial sister. The Mariemont High School girls soccer coach had the only unbeaten team in the Cincinnati Hills League last season, yet finished third in the conference thanks to three ties (4-0-3). The Warriors went 9-4-6 overall.
Haney said he has a mostly veteran group returning and hopes to turn some of those ties into wins.
Seniors Hanna Beck and Haley Schooler return to lead the defense. Seniors Kate Uehlin and Haley Jacobs, along with junior Meg Caesar, are back as center midfielders. Junior Lauren Getgey is back at striker. Junior Julia Long and freshman Sydney Nicholson will share goalie duties.
“I don’t think we have a star that will put the team on their shoulders and carry it, but we have 11 kids who are going to go out and play hard,” Haney said. “I haven’t had very many teams like this over the years, teams that have this kind of chemistry.
“They’re a special group. It’s a very disciplined group. They adapt to different systems and they’re buying in to what we’re telling them.”
Haney said the CHL race would be its usual tightly contested self with Indian Hill, Wyoming and Madeira battling his club for the title. Beyond the league, he picked Hamilton Badin as the preseason poll favorite, followed closely by Cincinnati Country Day, with the CHL crew and Summit vying for top-five spots.
Mariemont opened with a 3-0 win over Seven Hills Aug. 16. The Warriors host Badin Aug. 20 and face CCD on the road Aug. 23 before kicking off CHL action at home against Indian Hill Aug. 27.
Summit Country Day won the Miami Valley Conference with a perfect 7-0 record in 2013 as the Silver Knights went 15-5-1 overall, including sectional and district titles before falling to Lehman Catholic in the regional tournament.
Four players from that team went on to Division I college scholarships
Returning senior midfielder Emily Wiser is the last remaining starter from the 2011 state championship team and head coach Mike Fee will count on her leadership.
Senior Brenna Biggs anchors the defense with juniors Addy Smythe and Gracie Kunkel in front of returning sophomore keeper Caroline Walton. Junior Morgan Evans returns in the midfield and sophomore forward Jess De Jesus set a freshman scoring record last season.
As many as six freshmen could see significant time with the varsity, among them Ravin Alexander.
“The season will be defined by players stepping into more important roles,” Fee said. “The team should have more depth than last season. The team will be young, talented and deep, but faces very tough DIII competition in Cincinnati in CCD, Badin, Madeira and Mariemont.”
Summit opened with a 4-0 road win at Youngstown Cardinal Mooney as Alexander netted two goals. The Silver Knights host MVC rival CCD Sept. 25.
Saint Ursula Academy reached the Division I regional final last year in a 16-2-3 season that saw the Bulldogs win the Girls Greater Catholic League with a 4-0-1 record.
Terrance “Mac” Garrigan takes over a program that graduated five starters from that team.
Returning for the Bulldogs are senior co-captain Anna Arar at striker, senior co-captain Kelsey Dollenmayer at defender and their junior counterpart, Olivia Silverman, in the goal. Also back are junior strikers M.A. Vignola and Hayley Jordahl.
Varsity newcomers include junior defender Emily Reyering and junior midfielders Madeleine Morrissey and Cat Perry.
“(We’re) optimistic,” Garrigan said. “We lost five starters from last year’s elite eight team – (the) entire back line and both central midfielders – but the returning players and incoming juniors have a work ethic second to none. They are really coming together.”
SUA opened the season with a scoreless tie at home against state power Mason Aug. 16. The Bulldogs host Notre Dame Academy (Ky.) Aug. 25 and Troy Christian Aug. 30 before beginning GGCL play at home against Mount Notre Dame Sept. 3 and going on the road to play rival Ursuline Academy Sept. 9.
Seven Hills finished 8-7-2 overall in 2013, including a 3-3-1 mark in the MVC that put the Stingers in fifth place.
Head coach Nick Francis looks for a few more wins this season as his team moves into a new home field on campus.
“I think we can be competitive in all of our games,” he said. “We’ve got some good leadership from seven returning seniors and we’ve got some good young players coming up who have showed improvement.”
The Stingers fell 3-0 to Mariemont in the season opener Aug. 16. Seven Hills visits league rival Summit Sept. 4 and hosts CCD Oct. 8.
Coach Doug Amend looks to move Clark Montessori up the Miami Valley Conference standings after last year’s squad finished 7-8-3 overall and 1-5-1 in league play.
The Clark girls return experienced players including four-year twin varsity starters Jacklyn and Jayla Watson. Both made MVC second team in 2013. Also back is honorable mention selection Kennedy James, Kate West and Taylor Hopkins.
“We have 10 returning starters which lead them to know how each other plays,” Amend said. “It also leads to team chemistry. They will play for each other.”
The Lady Cougars are at Roger Bacon Aug. 23. Their next home game is with Cincinnati Christian Sept. 2.
Purcell Marian’s girls were 4-12 last season, but winless in the Greater Catholic League Coed. Coach Donny Nadermann returns seniors Mollie Kearney, Maisie Stewart and Audra Thompson and sophomore striker Sophie Kiley. In goal for the Lady Cavaliers will be freshman Julia Mumper.
Kiley was all-league first team last season, with Kearney making second team.
“We’re very excited with the way our preseason has gone and hope we can carry that into the regular and post season,” Nadermann said.
Upcoming games for Purcell Marian are against North College Hill Aug. 20 and Norwood Aug. 23. A league showdown at Roger Bacon is Aug. 27.
Withrow starts girls soccer play in the ECC after a 5-3 overall mark a season ago.
Vince Pescatrice is the Lady Tigers coach and like the Withrow boys team, the girls roster has many players who have immigrated to the United States.
Starters for Withrow include Charlotte Niyonkuru, Crizoline Marde, Mariejane Tuyizere, Frida Sebastien and Fabiola Butoyi.
“We have a lot to prove,” Pescatrice said. “The Withrow soccer program is beginning a new chapter and we’re looking to make our mark as our program grows by tapping into our true potential.”
The Lady Tigers open at home on Aug. 21 against Purcell Marian.
Former Xavier player and assistant coach Keri Heedum takes over the soccer program at Mount Notre Dame, where she is also an assistant athletic director.
The Cougars were 6-5-6 in 2013 and 1-2-2 in the Girls Greater Catholic League.
GGCL first team goalkeeper Sam Leshnak is back and will be supported by centerback Kacy Eckley, forward Holly Denny, midfielder Grace Wilson and midfielder/goalkeeper Jenna Prathapa.
After the Aug. 19 opener with Mason, MND is at Lebanon on Aug. 25. Rivalry games of note are Sept. 3 at St. Ursula and home with Ursuline Sept. 24.
Ursuline Academy was 9-5-5 in 2013, including a 3-2 record in the Girls Greater Catholic League good for second place. The Lions avenged a regular-season loss against league rival Seton in the second round of the Division I sectional tournament before falling to Loveland.
Head coach Colleen Dehring has a trio of first-team all-GGCL picks returning in seniors Andie Kennard, Mikaela McGee and Sara Robertson. Senior Jordan Hollmeyer and junior Holyn Alf were second-team picks last season.
The Lions open the season at Walnut Hills Aug. 16 and have their home opener against Lakota East Aug. 26. GGCL play begins Sept. 3 at Seton.
The Cincinnati Country Day girls team comes into 2014 following an 18-2 record last year that included a runner-up finish in the Miami Valley Conference and a Division III district title.
Head coach Theresa Hirschauer could earn her 300th career win with a similar season; she owns a 285-121-33 record over the course of her 25 year-career at the Indians’ helm.
Senior Briana Maggard and sophomore Olivia Brown return after all-city seasons in the midfield last year, where they will be joined by junior Lauren Buczek. A trio of seniors in Grace Krammer, Charlotte Jackson and Kaitlin Harden lead the defense in front of sophomore goalie Olivia Robinson, who recorded eight shutouts as a freshman.
Sophomore forward Natalie Choo should be an asset up front after transferring from Seven Hills.
“We need to find someone to put the ball in the back of the net after the graduation of all-state player Kelsey Zimmers,” Hirschauer said. “I think we will be a team that has the capability for three or four players to score 10 to 12 goals each and be more balanced than last year.
“I think until someone beats them, Summit is the team to beat in the MVC. Our goal – like every year – is to win MVC and go as far as we can in the OHSAA tourney. I think we have the talent, but like any season we need to stay healthy and become a team.”
CCD opens against McNicholas Aug. 18 at home and hosts Mariemont Aug. 23 in a girl-boy doubleheader.