The OHSAA soccer season is set to begin Friday with its own version of “Friday Night Lights”.
As the season begins, we’ll take a look at coverage area teams as they are set to begin play over the next few days.
Lynchburg-Clay claimed both boys’ and girls’ Southern Hills Athletic Conference titles last season, going unblemished in conference play. A couple of teams hope to change that while Georgetown looks to build upon successful ‘17 campaigns in the Southern Buckeye Conference.
Here’s a look at each team from the coverage area:
With plenty coming back this fall, the Ripley boys’ soccer team feels as if they have a legitimate shot at claiming the Southern Hills Athletic Conference crown.
“With the experience and the talent that we have returning this season, we should be able to handle all competition that is thrown at us and that is goal number one for this team, is to bring home a league championship,” said Ripley coach Kevin Poe in an email to The Ledger Independent.
The Blue Jays bring back Jaki Royal and Ryan Mitchell, who both made the All-League team last year and are entering their senior seasons.
Royal has the ability to keep Ripley in any game by “making both the routine and incredible saves throughout the season,” according to Poe.
Mitchell plays at the opposite end of the field, and Poe expects him to be alongside Tristan Finn scoring goals this fall. They’ll also bring back Nigel Royal and Montrez McGill, who provide the Blue Jays with more threats in the offensive third.
Joining Royal in the defensive end are brothers Corey and Cody Germann, as well as defensive midfielder Joseph Blum.
Ripley is aiming to take all of that returning talent and pair it with new players that will have to step up this season. Putting it all together is what Poe believes will determine some of their success on the pitch this fall.
The team is scheduled to open the season at Peebles on Aug. 24, but they’re especially looking forward to a game the next day against Purcell Marian, which could help when tournament seeding starts, and an Oct. 3 game against Lynchburg-Clay, who went undefeated in the SHAC last season.
The Lady Jays, also coached by Poe, are hoping to build off of a foundation they put down with a young team last year.
“This season we look to improve upon the framework laid last season,” said Poe. “With returning experience we should definitely be able to improve upon last year’s record as I look for us to be very competitive in every game of the coming season.”
Ripley returns Kailee Fisher, their lone All-League honoree from a 2017 season in which they went 0-7 in the SHAC. Poe expects her to anchor the Lady Jays’ defense.
Alongside Fisher in the defensive third will be Cailey Kirk, who is moving out of goal this season. Paula Hauke and Jennifer Eichner will round out Ripley’s defense, while newcomer Ginny Saunders will step in as goalkeeper.
Rachel Shepherd and Reggie Taylor are two other players Poe expects to step up this fall to provide the team with some offensive threats. Danielle Bennington and Carlee Daulton return to help provide scoring for the Lady Jays, while Morgan Jodrey will return in the midfield.
Ripley is scheduled to open the season at Peebles on Aug. 24 at 4:30 p.m.
The Indians are coming off an 7-8-2 season and a 1-5-1 record in the SHAC. They will be led by new coach Logan Gordley, who takes over for Brian Seaman.
Peebles’ returns All-SHAC league player Weston Browning along with Jordan Syroney, Alex Camp and Hunter White for some players to watch this season. With the new coach, comes a new outlook as they look to improve from a seventh-place finish in conference play a year ago.
“Myself and my other coaches have high hopes for this coming season as we have five seniors and are led by two skilled and soccer-minded captains in Jordan Syroney and Weston Browning,” Gordley said. “This year will be a bit of a learning curve for myself, but once our guys build chemistry, pieces will fall into place and we’ll have a successful and memorable season.”
The Indians look forward to playing conference matches and an out-of-conference match with Northwest will give them a good gauge of where they stand in sectional play.
The Lady Indians are coming off their most successful season in school history with 11 wins, a sectional title and a 3-4 record in the SHAC. They’ll have a new leader however, as Greg Dennison replaces Gus Denzik.
Helping Dennison transition will be retaining the majority of last year’s roster, including Lily Gray, who scored over 20 goals in ’17 and set a program record for goals in a season. Gray was an All-SHAC player last season, as were returnees Breauna Shoemaker, who also scored double-digit goals last season and Kylie Sims.
“I have high hopes for the ladies this season. We have retained the majority of last year’s roster and I have watched these ladies develop their skills and understanding of the game, both offensively and defensively, to a level that will allow them to be SHAC contenders this year,” Dennison said. “Even though we start the season with a few ladies recovering from preseason play injuries, we have the ability to fill their spots with talent that will not set us back.”
Kristen Bradford, Kierra Stone, who both scored over 10 goals last season, Kaylee Ferguson, Olivia Parrett and Harley Griffith will be some other players to watch on the Lady Indians roster.
Some games they look forward to will be against defending SHAC champion Lynchburg-Clay, Fairfield and Eastern Brown.
The Lady G-Men return a strong core of upperclassmen from a 6-6 2017 season, and they’ll rely on them to try to move their way up the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference standings this year.
“I think it will be a good year for the Lady G-Men,” said Georgetown coach Ashley Corbin in an email to The Ledger Independent. “I’m looking forward to a great season with a great group of girls.”
Bella Clifton is a first team SBAAC National Division All-Star, and she’ll be returning for her senior season in goal. Joining Clifton with first team honors last year was then-sophomore Hailey Gregory.
Maddi Benjamin and Danielle Williams are the two Georgetown second team players returning this fall. Benjamin is coming off of a strong freshman campaign, while Williams is expected to help lead the defense this fall.
Jasmine Johnson was an honorable mention midfielder as a junior, and brings back her ability to finish in the offensive third. Georgetown will also bring back Laura Wood and Lauren Carter, while trying to incorporate a new group of experienced freshmen into the mix.
“The girls have put in a lot of time this spring and summer,” said Corbin. “We have a strong team who wants to learn and who wants to win. Our key focus this year will be to stay positive, have fun, and work hard.”
The Lady G-Men are scheduled to open the season against Norwood on Saturday at 10 a.m.
The G-Men return an experienced group of upperclassmen from a 12-4-1 season, including first team SBAAC National Division All-Stars Cameron Brookbank and Emerson Cahall. Brookbank led Georgetown in goals as a junior and was in the top five in the category in Southwest Ohio. Cahall, a midfielder, finished in double digits in assists and goals scored.
“I feel we will be very strong both offensively and defensively,” Georgetown coach Cory Cahall told Wade Smith of the Georgetown News Democrat. “We should be pretty solid all over the field with good depth on the bench. With up to 6-7 starting seniors, (that) should give us plenty of experience on the field. We have a great group of kids who like to get after it and play hard. As a coach, that’s all you can ask for.”
Georgetown also returns experienced players in senior midfielders Koby Hyde and Morgan Fleming, senior defenders Jackson Gregory and Noah Bishop and sophomore midfielder Joshua Galley.
The G-Men are scheduled to open the season at home against Norwood on Saturday at noon.
The Dragons finished 1-4-2 in the SHAC last year, but bring back two All-League players.
Connor Campbell returns for his senior year and Colt Parker will return in goal.
West Union is scheduled to open the season against Fayetteville-Perry on Monday. The game is scheduled to start at 6 p.m.
The Lady Dragons went 2-5 in the SHAC in 2017, but bring back All-League player Heidi Hunter, as well as Anna Shupert.
The West Union girls’ are scheduled to open the season against Fayetteville-Perry on Monday at 4:30 p.m.
Attempts to reach out to the Warriors and Lady Warriors coaches were unsuccessful.
The Warriors went 3-3-1 in the SHAC, finishing fourth while the Lady Warriors went 5-2 and placed third in the conference.