Riverdale and Liberty-Benton have been the class of the North Central Ohio Soccer Association the past couple of years.
While the Falcons got the best of L-B in the regular season in sweeping their way to a league title, it was the Eagles who got the last laugh in the tournament en route to a state appearance.
Both schools lost a lot of important talent, though, and Van Buren hasn’t been far off from approaching their status.
Still, Liberty-Benton coach Mark Pagano returns a pair of first-team all-league players in goal-scoring extraordinaire Savanah Richards (28 goals) and record-setting sophomore keeper Sophie Aschemeier (15 shutouts) to lead a group of 12 returning letterwinners.
Riverdale doesn’t have the same continuity going into 2018 as head coach Andrew Snook is out and Eric Rodriguez is in. All-NCOSA Player of the Year Reygan Frey has graduated as did a host of other key starters.
Todd McCracken’s Black Knights return a pair of all-conference forwards (Hannah Missler & Mady Parker) and an all-conference goalkeeper (Jewelya Hutchinson) as they look to build on last season’s third-place finish.
Ada, Cory-Rawson and Upper Sandusky could prove to make the conference a tough one all season.
Kalida controlled the Putnam County League in 2017, sweeping its way through the conference. David Kehres, who is entering his 13th season after winning the PCL Coach of the Year last season, also returns four players who earned all-league honors as the Wildcats could be the class of the conference once again.
Kasey Knippen, the PCL Player of the Year as a junior, leads an Ottoville team that finished as the league runner-up last season.
However, Doug German takes over as head coach after the Big Green were one-and-done in the state tournament.
Bluffton, after being the class of the Northwest Conference a year ago, returns plenty of firepower led by NWC Player of the Year Kayla White. White scored 26 goals as a sophomore and teammate Averey Rumer, a first-team all-league pick, is also back.
There are three new head coaches in the area. Rodriguez takes over at Riverdale, German is in at Ottoville and Chris Podraski is the new coach at Ottawa-Glandorf.
No information was available on Ada.
HEAD COACH: Jared Byers (4th year, 25-21-6).
2017 RECORD: 8-5-4 overall, 6-0-1 Northwest Conference.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Bella Basinger, soph., D; Brinkley Garmatter, jr., D; Kayla White, jr., MF; Laykin Garmatter, soph., F; Rebekah Hoff, soph., F; Sophia Smucker, jr., MF; Olivia Setzer, soph., D; Lauren Rhodes, soph., F; Sarah Cartwright, sr., F; Brenna Kindle, soph., F; Averey Rumer, sr., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Riley Busch, fr., GK; Olivia Burner, jr.; Kailey Mault, sr.; Reagan Mittendorf, fr.; Clara Matthews, soph.; Makaighla Morris, jr.
NOTABLE: White was a top prospect for Bluffton heading into last season. Twenty-six goals later and the junior is one of the key returning letterwinners after winning Northwest Conference Player of the Year honors. Rumer, another first-team all-NWC pick, also returns.
HEAD COACH: Toby Bidlack (16th year, 168-80-23).
2017 RECORD: 9-9-1 overall, 2-1-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Kaytlin Bibler, sr., F/MF; Sierra Prowant, sr., MF/D; Riley Fenter, sr., F/MF; Angel Brzozowski, sr., GK; Brooke Davis, sr., MF/D; Emily Rose, sr., F; Alex Hoeffel, jr., F/MF; Katie Keller, jr., MF/D; Addy Armey, jr., MF/F; Maddie Burke, soph., F/MF; Shelby Collier, soph., D/MF; Trinity Prowant, soph., D/MF; Sierra Salinas, soph., D/MF; Hannah Soto, soph., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Jensen Armey, fr., MF/F; Trinity Bibler, fr., F; Kayden Centers, fr., MF/F; Kenna Okuley, fr., MF.
NOTABLE: Continental took a step back last season after reaching 14 wins and sweeping the Putnam County League in 2016. But 16-year head coach Toby Bidlack brings back an experienced group of six seniors and a trio of juniors. Hoeffel returns after earning first-team all-PCL recognition as a sophomore. Seniors Fenter and Prowant also return after being second-team all-PCL players last year.
HEAD COACH: Mark Schwemer (6th year, 39-38-12).
2017 RECORD: 8-9-1 overall, 1-3-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Faith Dearwester, sr., D; Lily Woods, sr., MF; Faith Sammet, sr., MF; Mazie Parkins, jr., D; Zoe Chisholm, soph., F; Libby McVetta, soph., MF; Katie Bish, soph., GK/D; Aylissa Shoemaker, soph., F; Sophie Simon, soph., MF/D: Jocelyn Peterson, soph., MF; Grace Roebke, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Mackenzie Cascaden, soph., D; Mackenzie Schimmoeller, soph., MF; Evelyn Waltz, fr., GK; Leiah Preston, fr., D.
NOTABLE: Schwemer returns just three senior letterwinners in what will be a young squad. However, sophomore Chisholm returns after scoring nine goals and assisting on seven en route to earning all-league and all-Norhtwest Ohio recognition as a freshman. The other 10 returning players combined for just eight goals.
HEAD COACH: Rob Warnecke (3rd year, 10-24-1).
2017 RECORD: 5-12-1 overall, 0-3-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Lexi Hoersten, sr., MF/D; Kayleigh Klir, sr., D; Madison Neidert, sr., MF/F; Sydnie Siebeneck, jr., D/MF; Kristen Luersman, jr., MF; Mackenna Stechschulte, jr., GK/MF; Elizabeth Howbert, soph., MF/F.
TOP PROSPECTS: Grace Fischbach, soph., D; Mackenzie Burgei, fr., MF/D; Abigail Koester, fr., F/MF; Ellie Lindeman, fr., D/F; Gabby Martz, fr., MF/F.
NOTABLE: Despite winning just four regular season games, Fort Jennings did end the year with a tournament victory giving the Musketeers something to build on for 2018. Second-team all-conference pick Neidert leads a strong group of seven returning letterwinners.
HEAD COACH: David Kehres (13th year, 135-57-28).
2017 RECORD: 10-5-4 overall, 4-0 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Rachael Basinger, sr., F; Halie Kaufman, sr., D/F; Lauren Langhals, sr., MF/F; McKenna Bockrath, jr., D; Kyla Fortman, jr., MF; Madison Langhals, jr., MF/F; Carlie Rampe, jr., D; Bailey White, jr., GK/F; Abby Wurth, jr., D; Sydney Wurth, jr., MF; Delaney Vorst, jr., F; Kathryn Siebeneck, soph., MF/F.
TOP PROSPECTS: Melanie Meyers, soph., MF/F; Morgan Ridinger, soph., MF; Dayna Schimmoeller, soph., D; Mya Schmitz, soph., GK/F; Brenna Smith, soph., MF/F; Kenzie Fortman, fr., F/MF; Catie Lehman, fr., MF; Molly Westrick, fr., MF; Sami Westrick, fr., MF; Peyton Wurth, fr., MF/D.
NOTABLE: Kalida returns four all-league players from last year’s Putnam County League-winning team. Leading the pack is senior Kaufman and junior White, who both earned first-team recognition. David Kehres expects his Wildcats to control possession and be strong defensively. Offensive consistency could be an issue, however, as Kalida looks to repeat its sweep through the PCL.
HEAD COACH: Mark Pagano (11th year, 100-26-12).
2017 RECORD: 16-4-2 overall, 4-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Savanah Richards, sr., F; Paige Rickle, sr., D; Abbey Hatch, jr., D; Chloe Kin, jr., MF; Maddie Parmelee, jr., F; Sophie Aschemeier, soph., GK; Jayde Bailey, soph., D/MF; Lexi Nagy, soph., D/MF; Alexis Rickenbacher, soph., MF; Maya Rickle, soph., F; Mia Siferd, soph., D/MF; Taylor Ward, soph., D/MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Lexi Hendel, sr., F/GK; Olivia Bodie, fr., D/MF; Kati Pape, soph., D/MF; Brooke Deeter, fr., D/MF; Shelby Modd, fr., D/MF; Kailea Altman, sr., D.
NOTABLE: Liberty-Benton made the state final four for the first time in program history last season as it rattled off five postseason wins in a thrilling tournament run. First-team all-league players Richards and Aschemeier are back to help pace the scoring and goalkeeping, respectively. However, the Eagles lost the majority of their back line. The good news for Pagano is that he played a host of freshmen in 2017 who will return to prominent roles with another year of experience.
HEAD COACH: Ross Heuerman (2nd year, 3-13-1).
2017 RECORD: 3-13-1 overall, 0-3-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Abby Niese, sr., MF; Renae Schroeder, sr., D; Kaydee Stant, jr., MF; Liv Troyer, jr., MF/F; Madison Ruhe, jr., MF; Kylie Peck, jr., MF; Selena Saldana, jr., D; Kayleen Maas, soph., F; Madison Ellerbrock, soph., MF/F; Abi Reyna, soph., D; Natalie Koenig, soph., GK.
TOP PROSPECTS: Hannah Brown, soph., F/MF; Abi Handshoe, soph., F; Aubrey Knueven, soph., D; Lauren Hermiller, soph., D; Lexi Heuerman, fr., F; Tara Schroeder, fr., F/MF; Abi Long, fr., D/MF.
NOTABLE: Five players earned all-league recognition a year ago. Only one of those returns in two-time second-team pick Niese. So inexpereience will be an issue for Ross Heuerman’s Wildcats.
HEAD COACH: Chris Podraski (1st year).
2017 RECORD: 6-10-4 overall, 3-5-1 Western Buckeye League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Caitlin Bockrath, sr., F; Ashley Schroeder, sr., MF; Claire Inkrott, sr., F; Erin Kaufman, sr., F; Hannah Maag, sr., D; Jayla Balbaugh, sr., D; Kirsten Siefker, sr., D; Madalyn Morman, sr., D; Paige Sutter, sr., F; Taylor Kuhlman, sr., D; Kelsey Erford, soph., MF; Lauren Siefker, soph., F.
TOP PROSPECTS: Lauren Diller, soph., D; Ashton Okuley, jr., GK; Hannah Verhoff, soph., MF; Emilee Horstman, fr., F.
NOTABLE: Ottawa-Glandorf lost a big senior class, but the Titans have success to build on after pulling off a pair of tournament upsets in making the district semifinal. Erford (second team), Bockrath (third team) and Kaufman (honorable mention) earned all-Western Buckeye League recognition and lead a group of 12 returning letterwinners.
HEAD COACH: Doug German (1st year).
2017 RECORD: 12-3-2 overall, 2-1-1 Putnam County League.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Haley Hoersten, sr., MF; Kasey Knippen, sr., F; Ashlee Landin, jr., GK; Riley Wannemacher, soph., D; Peyton Wannemacher, soph., MF; Nicole Knippen, soph., D.
TOP PROSPECTS: Not available.
NOTABLE: Kasey Knippen was the player of the year in the Putnam County League last season and Hoersten joined her on conference’s first team. Both return for their senior seasons after the Big Green won 12 games a year ago before losing their tournament opener. Doug German, though, takes over as head coach.
HEAD COACH: Eric Rodriguez (1st year).
2017 RECORD: 13-3-3 overall, 5-0 North Central Ohio Soccer Association.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Brandi Borkosky, sr., D; Katelyn Hildebrand, sr., MF; Brooke Kuenzli, sr., D; Katy Miller, sr., GK; Alex Rothlisberger, sr., F/D/ Caitlyn Hughes, sr., MF; Haley Frey, jr., F; Elizabeth Burd, jr., D; Makena Barnes, soph., D; Hannah Breidenbach, soph., F; Danielle Searfoss, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Alesha Martin, jr., F; Payton Rodriguez, soph., MF/F.
NOTABLE: Riverdale swept the North Central Ohio Soccer Association, led by NCOSA Coach of the Year Andrew Snook and Player of the Year Reygan Frey. Eric Rodriguez has taken over for Snook, while Frey is one of three all-NCOSA first-team picks not returning. Second-team pick Rothlisberger leads a group of 11 returning letetrwinners.
HEAD COACH: Patrick Massara (5th year, 37-26-5).
2017 RECORD: 6-9-2 overall, 1-3-1 North Central Ohio Soccer Assocation.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Jenna Rodriguez, sr., D/MF; Taylor Norris, sr., MF/F/ Audrey Boes, sr., F; Alivia Oney, sr., MF; Analisa Clarke, jr., D; Madison Thompson, jr., MF/F; Amy Frey, jr., MF/D; Cortni Brown, jr., GK/MF; Riley Messersmith, jr., F/MF; Grace Kinley, soph., D/MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Brooke Swavel, fr., D; Lindsay Weininger, fr., D; Keydi Camacho, soph., D/MF; Arlene Lopez, fr., D/MF; Grace Vent, fr., D.
NOTABLE: All four returning seniors earned some form of all-league recognition. Rodriguez (first team) had five assists and Boes (second team) scored eight goals with eight assists. Upper’s primary goalkeeper, Brown (109 saves), also returns.
HEAD COACH: Todd McCracken (3rd year, 19-12-6).
2017 RECORD: 9-6-3 overall, 3-2 North Central Ohio Soccer Assocation.
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS: Grace Hoerig, sr., MF; Marisa Gilbert, sr., MF; Jewelya Hutchinson, jr. GK; Mady Parker, jr., F; Zoe Horne, jr., D; Hannah Missler, jr., F; Alyssa Potteiger, jr., D; Gabby Gearhart, soph., MF; Evelyn Masters, soph., MF.
TOP PROSPECTS: Shaina Lako, soph.; Mia George, soph.; Peyton Sendelbach, soph.; Breanna Tabler, soph.; Madilyn Pawlak, soph.; Lilly Badertscher, soph.; Addie Jackson, fr.; Maddie Northcutt, fr.; Rylee Johnson, fr.
NOTABLE: Van Buren earned a winning 2017 record thanks to a strong finish. The Black Knights were 5-5-2 after 12 games, then went 4-0-1 before their season ended with a narrow 1-0 loss to Riverdale in the district semifinals. Missler (first-team), Parker (second-team) and Hutchinson (honorable mention) earned all-league recognition during their sophomore seasons.