INDIAN HILL – Bill Mees is looking at a milestone year as boys soccer coach at Indian Hill High School.
If the Braves have the season they usually have, Mees will acquire career win No. 300 in his 26th year with the team.
Indian Hill finished 15-6-2 last season and 6-1 in the Cincinnati Hills League. The season culminated Nov. 6 at Huber Heights Wayne with a grueling, rainy loss in the Division II state semifinals to Columbus Bishop Watterson, the eventual state champion.
“We have solid talent,” Mees said of the upcoming season. “They know from last year what they need to do to be successful.”
The Braves lost several all-league players to graduation but do return senior Austin Schneider, who was second-team CHL and senior honorable mention Chris Duncan. Seniors Brooks Renfro and James Pflughaupt will also add veteran experience.
Indian Hill last shared the league title with Madeira in 2011.
Mees had another difficult schedule planned for the Braves as they face Anderson, Loveland, Carroll, Oak Hills, Turpin, Fenwick, Tippecanoe, Milford and Alter in non-conference action. The home opener is with Carroll on Aug. 23 and the CHL starts when defending champion Mariemont pays a visit on Aug. 26.
Cincinnati Country Day also enters the new season after a strong 2013 campaign. The Indians went 17-2-2 overall – 6-1-1 in the Miami Valley Conference – and reached the regional tournament for the first time in school history.
Veteran coach Greg Hirschauer only graduated two players from that club and looks forward to challenging two-time defending state champion Summit Country Day for the MVC crown and possibly more.
“We’re actually deeper this year than last year,” Hirschauer said. “We definitely have a high level of skill and we definitely have experience. This team has high expectations.”
Senior defender and midfielder Will Cohen leads the returning players, along with classmates Nathan Gibson (midfield), Luke Deimer (midfield and defender), Brandin Ward (midfield) and Matthew MacFarland (midfield).
Keeper Ian McInturf – who recorded 12 shutouts as a freshman – will miss the early part of the season with an injury. Several other players are nicked up, but should be ready by the Aug. 19 season opener at McNicholas. CCD hosts Mariemont Aug. 23 and begins MVC play at North College Hill Aug. 28.
“We’re going to have to outscore some people early on,” Hirschauer said. “Our defense is going to have to step up. Once we have everyone back healthy, we should be in good shape.”
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy graduated seven seniors from a 7-9-3 team a year ago. That record included a 3-4 mark in the Miami Valley Conference leaving the Eagles in fifth place. CHCA recorded a pair of sectional tournament wins before bowing out against eventual state champion Summit Country Day.
The MVC will be a challenge again, with two-time defending state champion Summit looking to three-peat. Both Seven Hills and Cincinnati Country Day look to get back to the district and regional level they attained last season.
Head coach Bryan Daniel said for the Eagles to reach the .500 mark and challenge in the league, his squad will have to improve around the net.
“Realistically we’ve got to finish our chances in the close games,” he said. “We’re really good at generating chances, but we have to finish at the net. Right now we’re trying to figure out who that primary goal scorer will be for us.”
Senior Tanner Bowman – a legitimate college prospect – returns in goal for the Eagles to keep other teams from scoring. Mark Smith may be the first junior in program history to earn a captaincy; he will anchor the midfield after playing center back last season.
CHCA opens the season against Georgetown Aug. 16 at home; The Eagles open MVC play at CCD Sept. 4.
With 251 wins coming into the season at Moeller High School, Crusaders soccer coach Randy Hurley will be looking to get his team back over .500 in the ultra-competitive Greater Catholic League-South.
The Crusaders were 5-9-3 (2-4 GCL South) for third place. Moeller last won a league title in 2010.
Top players returning for Hurley are senior center back Mitch Meece, a first team all-league pick last year; senior defender Josh Brunker; senior midfielder Drew Scott and senior defender/midfielder Cody Swartz. Other seniors are goalkeeper Anthony Whyle and forwards Jake Giebler and Ryan Frank.
Moeller begins at Walnut Hills Aug. 21. The home opener is Aug. 23 with Centerville.