In 2013, Fairfield Union matched the deepest run in school history in girls soccer, advancing to a district final in starting seven freshmen or sophomores. The team is younger this season, but the Falcons hope to stand alone as the first district champion in team history.
Fairfield Union losses three starters to graduation from 2013 and will start nine sophomores and freshmen this season.
“It will be growing pains,” second-year coach Casey Bischof said. “Last year, we had girls they could look up to. This year, it’s young girls leading young girls. We might start slow.
“The offense will probably be a struggle because it is so many young girls trying to jell them together and get them used to my style of play.”
Although Bischof is tempering early-season expectations, the team returns some firepower from 2013. The Falcons averaged almost three goals per game in 2013 and their top two scorers are back in junior Brianna Boyle and sophomore Amber Lee. Both had 14 goals in 2013.
The team loses one key scoring threat in Carly Rose — six goals in 2013 — and two of their starting defenders in Sydney Schmelzer and Ashley Miller. Still with junior Nicole Huston back in goal after recording 11 shutouts in 2013, Bischof said he expects the defense to again be a strength.
Huston — who has taken on a leadership role as one of the few juniors on the roster — agreed, adding the team’s communication has improved from 2013.
“There is a lot better talking with us,” she said. “The passing and give and goes are better. We are a bonded team so far.”
One of the players supporting Huston on the back line will be Parker Ruff. The strong-legged sophomore has high expectations for Fairfield Union despite the team’s collective youth. Getting so close to a district title wasn’t enough, she said.
“Our goals for the season is to get first in our league and get past district finals,” she said. “No Fairfield Union team has gotten past district finals.”
After falling 1-0 to top-seeded Hillsboro in a district final in the Southeast District and finishing second to Bloom-Carroll in the Mid-State League-Buckeye Division in 2013, the Falcons are looking to take the next step. Youth aside, Bischof thinks those goals are within reach if things break right for Fairfield Union this season.
“Anytime you finish second, there is only one place to go after that,” he said. “I don’t see why not. There are some very talented teams in our league and district. But if we can figure it out and play as a team, I think we’ll be OK.”
In order to figure it out, the young Falcons are going to have to grow up in a hurry.