Girls soccer preview: L-B has ruled the roost

LIBERTY-BENTON’S SAVANAH RICHARDS, right, heads the ball through a group of Van Buren defenders and into the net during a tournament match last season. Richards is one of several veterans back for the Eagles. The Black Knights are also loaded with experience and talent this season as the prep soccer season in Ohio kicks off tonight. (Photo by Jamie Baker)

It’s the usual suspects in the girls race for the North Central Ohio Soccer Association championship.
Liberty-Benton won last year’s league crown with a 6-1 record. But the Eagles can expect stiff challenges from rivals Van Buren and Riverdale as well as Bluffton this season.
Liberty-Benton lost a talented senior class but head coach Mark Pagano has nine letterwinners back.
Junior Savanah Richards (13 goals, 6 assists) and sophomore Taylor Young (10 goals, 1 assist) cracked the double-digit goal mark for the Eagles. Seniors Carson Garlock (33 intercepts, 11 steals) and Jessi LaFontaine (18 intercepts, 11 steals) are teams top returning defenders.
Van Buren lost just one match in the league last season, but two early season ties kept them from a share of the NCOSA title.
Five senior three-year letterwinners are back on coach Todd McCracken’s 31-player roster.
Senior forward Lisa Simmons scored seven goals with 10 assists for the Black Knights in 2016. Seniors Annie Mowrey (defender), Amelia Durliat (midfielder), Janelle Keck (defender) and Jessie Masters (midfielder) also return for their fourth season on the varsity squad.
Three all-NCOSA players are among the 14 back for Riverdale coach Andrew Snook.
Senior forward Gabi Rodriguez was a second-team all-Ohio and first team all-league selection. Senior midfielders Reygan Frey and Lexie Wright were first team and honorable mention all-NCOSA in 2016 respectively.
Bluffton, Cory-Rawson and Upper Sandusky will be looking to spring a few upsets in league play along the way.
It should be an interesting race in the Putnam County League where Continental seeks to defend last year’s title.
Nine lettermen are back for Continental coach Toby Bidlack, who is 159-71-22 entering his 15th year as head coach.
Alex Hoeffel is the returning PCL Player of the Year after notching 40 goals with 10 assists and recording 153 steals and intercepts for the Pirates.
The Pirates did lose all-PCL first teamers Ashley Mansfield, Jaylen Armey and Paige Lawhorn to graduation.
There are two new head coaches around the area this year as Doug Poling takes charge of the program at Ada and Ross Heuerman is the new coach at Miller City.
No information was available on the teams from Ada, Fort Jennings and Ottoville.

Bluffton
HEAD COACH: Jared Byers (3rd year, 19-16-2).
2016 RECORD: 13-5-1 overall, 5-2 North Central Ohio Soccer Association, 7-0 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Abbey Gambrell, sr.; Brinkley Garmatter, soph.; Kayla Kindle, sr.; Leah Conley, sr.; Kayla White, soph.; Sophia Smucker, soph.; Kim Gordon, sr.; Kelli Leigers, sr.; Sarah Cartwright, jr.; Ashley Augsburger, sr.; Hannah Yost, jr.; Brianna Keeler, sr.; Averey Rumer, jr.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kayla White, soph.; Allison Wise, sr.; Rebekah Hoff, fr.; Katie Heinze, sr.; Brenna Kindle, fr.
NOTABLE: Good numbers and experience at Bluffton this season. The Pirates have 13 letterwinners back as they try and defend their NWC championship and contend for their first championship in the NCOSA.

Continental
HEAD COACH: Toby Bidlack (15th year, 159-71-22).
2016 RECORD: 14-5 overall, 4-0 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kaitlyn Alvarado, sr., F/MF; Kaytlin Bibler, jr., F/MF; Sierra Prowant, jr., MF/D; Riley Fenter, jr., F/MF; Angel Brzozowski, jr., GK; Brooke Davis, jr., MF; Emily Rose, jr., MF; Alex Hoeffel, soph., F/MF; Katie Keller, soph., MF/D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Natalie Speiser, soph., GK; Maddie Burke, fr., F/MF; Shelby Collier, fr., D/MF; Trinity Prowant, fr., D/MF; Sierra Salinas, fr., D/MF; Hannah Soto, fr., D.
NOTABLE: The Pirates, defending Putnam County League champs, welcome a new keeper in goal this season but last year’s freshman phenom Alex Hoeffel is back after notching back-to-back hat tricks in the district quarter- and semifinals.

Cory-Rawson
HEAD COACH: Mark Schwemer (5th year, 31-29-11).
2016 RECORD: 9-7-2 overall, 2-4-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Sarah Curth, sr., MF; Kara Schultz, jr., FB; Chloe Blackburn, sr., MF; Hayley Waltz, sr., F; Faith Dearwester, jr., FB; Chloe Stagnolia, sr., FB; Lily Woods, jr., MF; Faith Sammet, jr., MF; Amanda Collert, sr., MF; Hannah Bixler, jr., GK.
TOP PROSPECTS: Mazie Parkins, soph., FB; Libby McVetta, fr.; Madelyn Wolfarth, jr., MF; Mackenzie Schimmoeller, fr; MF; Katie Bish, fr., FB/GK; Aylissa Shoremaker, fr., F; Sophie Simon, fr., MF; Jocelyn Peterson, fr., MF; Zoe Chisholm, fr., F; Mackenzie Cascaden, fr. FB; Grace Roebke, fr., MF.
NOTABLE: The Hornets had a strong season outside of the league but will be looking to improve their 2-4-1 NCOSA record. Waltz is the top returning scorer with 21 goals and four assists while goalkeeper Bixler is back after allowing just 1.83 goals per match.

Kalida
HEAD COACH: David Kehres (12th year, 125-61-42).
2016 RECORD: 6-8-4 overall, 3-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Alecia Dunn, sr., D; Jaylen Vandemark, sr., MF/F; Hannah Warn, sr., MF; Taylor Zeller, sr., F; Rachael Basinger, jr., F; Halie Kaufman, jr., D; Lauren Langhals, jr., MF/F; Megan Schulte, jr., MF; McKenna Bockrath, soph., MF; Kyla Fortman, soph., MF; Madison Langhals, soph., MF/F; McKayla Maag, soph., D; Carlie Rampe, soph., D/MF; Bailey White, soph., GK/F; Abby Wurth, soph., D; Sydney Wurth, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Delaney Vorst, soph., F; Reagan Klausing, fr., MF; Melanie Meyers, fr., MF/F; Morgan Ridinger, fr., MF; Dayna Schimmoeller, fr., D; Mya Schmitz, fr., GK/F; Kathryn Siebeneck, fr., MF/F; Brenna Smith, fr., MF/F.
NOTABLE: There’s a big turnout at Kalida, which will resume it’s junior varsity program this year. Kehres returns 15 letterwinners from last year’s team that went 3-1 in the PCL, they’ll be one of the favorites in the league this season.

Liberty-Benton
HEAD COACH: Mark Pagano (10th year, 84-22-9).
2016 RECORD: 17-3-1 overall, 6-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jess LaFontaine, sr., D; Abbey Hatch, soph., MF; Tonya Frankart, sr., D; Chloe Kin, soph., MF; Maddie Parmalee, soph., F; Carson Garlock, sr., D; Savanah Richards, jr., MF/F; Taylor Young, soph., F; Olivia Christiansen, sr., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Alyson Kettels, sr., D/MF; Kacey Durliat, sr., MF/F; Cierra Espinoza, sr., D; Paige Rickle, jr., D; Sophie Aschemeier, fr., GK; Jayde Bailey, fr., D/MF; Lexi Nagy, fr., MF/F; Alexis Rickenbacher, fr., MF; Maya Rickle, fr., F; Mia Siferd, fr., D; Taylor Ward, fr., D/MF.
NOTABLE: Nine players return for the defending NCOSA champs. Richards was a second team all-leaguer after scoring 13 goals with six assists while Young netted 10 goals last season as a freshman. LaFontaine (11 steals, 18 intercepts) is the Eagles’ top returning defensive player.

Miller City
HEAD COACH: Ross Heuerman (1st year).
2016 RECORD: 5-11 overall, 0-4 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Megan Niese, sr., F; Kylie Niese, sr., D; Chloe Lammers, sr., D; Allison Ruhe, sr., F; McKenna Lehman, sr., F/MF; Abby Niese, jr., F/MF; Renae Schroeder, jr., MF; Tess Niese, sr., F; Kaydee Stant, soph., MF; Kylie Peck, soph., F/D; Madison, Ruhe, soph., MF; Liv Troyer, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Natalie Koenig, fr., GK.
NOTABLE: A more experienced team and bigger roster should pay dividends for Miller City this season. Heuerman has a roster of 25, including 13 letterwinners. Megan and Kylie Niese and Makenna Lehman are three-year letterwinners for the Wildcats.

Ottawa-Glandorf
HEAD COACH: Allison Schroeder (4th year).
2016 RECORD: 8-7-2 overall, 5-4 Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Claire Inkrott, jr., MF; Carri Johnson, sr., MF; Erin Kaufman, jr., F; Haley Schroeder, sr., MF; Kirsten Siefker, jr., D; Kadie Hempfling, sr., F.
TOP PROSPECTS: Paige Sutter, jr., GK; Megan Schimmoeller, sr., MF; Ashley Schroeder, jr., D; Hannah Maag, jr., MF: Jayla Balbaugh, jr., D; Claire Schroeder, sr., D; Kelsey Erford, fr., MF; Madalyn Morman, jr., D; Jessie Kuhlman, sr., MF; Caitlin Bockrath, jr., F; Tayla Meyer, jr., D; Alyssa Maag, jr., D; Taylor Kuhlman, jr.,D; Maggie Becker, sr., D.
NOTABLE: Ottawa-Glandorf lost 10 starters from last year’s team but the one returnee is a good one. Kadie Hempfling, the team’s leading scorer and all-district selection returns.

Riverdale
HEAD COACH: Andrew Snook (8th year, 84-35-10).
2016 RECORD: 12-5-2 overall, 6-1-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Hayley Beltz, sr., MF; Katie Benitez, sr., MF Reygan Frey, sr., MF; Jenna Livingston, sr., GK: Brooke McKamey, sr., MF; Gabi Rodriguez, sr., F; Lexie Wright, sr., MF; Brandi Borkosky, jr., MF; Caitlyn Hughes, jr., MF; Katy Miller, jr., GK; Alex Rothlisberger, jr., D; Malloree Washburn, jr., D; Haley Frey, soph., F; Libby Burd. soph., D .
TOP PROSPECTS: Kelsey Corbin, sr., MF; Brooke Kuenzli, jr., D; Katelyn Hildebrand, jr., MF; Makena Barnes, fr., D; Hanna Breidenbach, fr., F; Danielle Searfoss, fr., F.
NOTABLE: The Falcons appear to be loaded up and ready to make a run at the NCOSA title. Snook has a trio of talented all-league returners in Rodriguez, who was second-team all-Ohio, Frey (first team all-NOCSA) and Wright (honorable mention all-NCOSA).

Upper Sandusky
HEAD COACH: Patrick Massara (4th year, 31-17-3).
2016 RECORD: 9-7-1 overall, 2-4-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Katie Coppler, sr., D; Megan Hensel, sr., MF/F; Ashleigh McGinn, sr., D; Audrey Boes, jr., MF; Taylor Norris, jr., MF/FGK; Alivia Oney, jr., MF; Jenna Rodriguez, jr., D; Cortni Brown, soph., MF/GK.
TOP PROSPECTS: Kassidee Brady, soph., MF; Analisa Clarke, soph., D; Miranda Donnell, soph., D/GK; Amy Frey, soph., MF/D; Janeli Lopez, soph., D; Riley Messersmith, soph., F/MF; Madison Thompson, soph., MF; Grace Kinley, fr., D; Kyra Spillane, fr., MF.
NOTABLE: The Rams lost one of their best girls soccer senior classes last year. Hensel is one of eight returning letterwinners for Upper Sandusky. She was second team all-NCOSA after scoring 13 goals with six assists.

Van Buren
HEAD COACH: Todd McCracken (2nd year, 9-6-3).
2016 RECORD: 9-6-3 overall, 4-1-2 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Annie Mowrey, sr., D; Amelia Durliat, sr., MF; Lisa Simmons, sr., F; Janelle Keck, sr., D; Josie Masters, sr., MF; Marisa Gilbert, jr., D; Grace Hoerig, jr., MF; Audrey Nessler, jr., MF; Morgan Jackson, sr., MF; Mady Parker, soph., F; Zoe Horne, soph., D; Hannah Missler, soph., F.
TOP PROSPECTS: Hannah Betts, jr., GK; Jewelya Hutchison, soph., GK; Alyssa Potteiger, soph., MF; Evelyn Masters, fr., MF; Gabby Gearhart, fr., MF; Madilyn Pawlak, fr., MF.
NOTABLE: Look for another strong season at Van Buren. McCracken has a dozen letterwinners back from last year’s squad and has 30 players on his roster including 14 freshmen.



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