By Rob Kiser
Piqua Daily Call
and Josh Brown
Troy Daily News
PIQUA — Bret Ritter returns as Piqua girls soccer coach.
Ritter returns a strong group of players and said the team will feature a different look.
“We are going to change our style,” he said. “We hope to score a lot more goals. Last year, having lost so many defensive players from the year before we focused on defense. This year we are going to be more aggressive on offense.”
Leading the offense will be seniors Grace Forness, Ellie Jones and Olyvia Malone; along with senior Jaylynne Roberts.
The midfielders will be led by senior Tayler Grunkemeyer and junior Colleen Cox; along with juniors Alysse Blaine; sophomore Karley Lacy and freshman Audrey Evans.
The defense will be led by juniors Whitney Evans, Jordan Karn and Lillie Battson; while junior Karley Johns will be in goal.
Also on defense will be junior Rhylee Tufts, sophomore Elise Cox and freshman Rachel Cavender.
Ritter looks forward to the first year in the MVL and expects Troy and Tippecanoe to still be the favorites.
“I think if we can grasp this change (in style) we can be very competitive,” he said.
TIPP CITY — Tippecanoe finished its three-year stint in the Greater Western Ohio Conference with a second American North Division championship last year.
Now the Red Devils are trying to keep that success going in their first year in the Miami Valley League.
“Our goal every year is to win the league and make a long run in the tournament,” said Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker, who enters his eighth year with the team. “We are looking to win the league for the first time in the MVL, but Troy is always a team to beat and Butler will also be tough.”
Tippecanoe certainly has the experience to pull it off.
Senior Alyssa Toman and juniors Dani Dettwiller and Jaila Fletcher will lead the offense, with juniors Shelby Ferguson, Kenna Smith and Morgan Chaplin in the midfield. Junior Ashlyn Tarzinski takes over in goal, with senior Lauren Clapper and juniors Emily Rhoades, Payton Willis and Kat Oen on defense.
• Troy Christian
TROY — Brian Peters enters his ninth season as Troy Christian head coach, and the Eagles will be focusing on self-improvement after graduating a lot of leaders off the two-time defending Metro Buckeye Conference champion team — particularly four-year goalkeeper Cara Salazar.
Lessening that blow will be the return of leading scorers senior Lexi Salazar and junior Morgan Taylor to provide offensive punch. Salazar led the team with 39 total points, and she and Taylor both scored 15 goals to lead the team last year. Junior Erin Schenk will also add depth at striker, with senior Anna Hivner and junior Mia Dilbone back in the midfield. Sophomore Zy Parker, junior Ryann Spoltman and Kirsten Straight will lead the defense.
“We want to play as a unit and integrate our new players,” Peters said. “Dayton Christian and Miami Valley are always tough matches (in the MBC).”
WEST MILTON — Milton-Union may have graduated all-time leading scorer Kristen Dickison in the offseason, but the Bulldogs still have an experienced squad coming back that will look to challenge in the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division.
Dickison scored 39 goals and 89 points during her senior season last year, helping lead the Bulldogs to a runner-up finish behind Waynesville in the division.
“Our No. 1 goal is always to win the league,” said Milton-Union coach Andy Grudich, entering his 11th year with the team. “Waynesville is the defending league champs and Preble Shawnee also has a strong program, but we expect ourselves to be in the mix for the league title with those two teams. We also want to position ourselves for a deep tournament run.”
The Bulldogs bring back three of last year’s top five scorers, including junior midfielder Morgan Grudich, who was second on the team with 12 goals and 15 assists. Senior Lizzy Oaks and sophomore Aulbrey Hergenrather also helped the offensive firepower of the team up front, and senior Caitlin Jones and junior Madelyn Johnson will join them. Seniors Rachel Thompson, Allison Jones and Megan Jacobs will be back in the midfield with Grudich, while senior goalkeeper Izzy Morter also returns on defense. Seniors Emily Hornberger and Ellie Cooper and juniors Kelli Davis and Kenzie Everett will lend strength on defense.
• Lehman Catholic
SIDNEY — Jeremy Lorenzo returns as Lehman coach.
While the Cavaliers graduated a strong group off last year’s team that was 14-5-1 overall and 6-1 in the WOSL, along with winning sectional and district titles and finishing as regional runnerups; Lorezono feels the Cavaliers will put another strong team on the pitch.
The seniors that return include forward Rylie McIver; midfielders Ava Behr and Lyndsey Jones; and defenders Olivia Monnin, Maegan Titterington and Hope Anthony.
The juniors returning include forward Lindsey Magoteaux and defenders Evie Olding and Anna Cianciolo.
The sophomore returning include defender Ella Monnin and goalie Heidi Toner.
Top newcomers will include freshman Ella Black and Tori Lacey.
“I have mixed emotions about this season,” Lorenzo said. “The projected starting core are maybe the fastest and most talented group that we have put on the field. However, the bench will be one of the most inexperienced that we have seen in awhile.”
Lorenzo expects to learn a lot about his team early on.
“At this point, we just have a lot of unknowns and we will need returning JV and incoming players to really step up to the challenge,” Lorenzo said.
He feels like his team is up to the challenge.
“Although we were hit hard by graduation, the returning core of players are battle tested, coming off back-to-back district championships and a regional runnerup.”
Another challenge is the schedule.
“Once again, we will play an extremely difficult schedule,” Lorenzo said. “Last year, we played one of the toughest schedules in D-III girls soccer. We pretty much mirror that schedule, with the addition of D-II soccer power Mariemont. We are definitely really challenging ourselves this season and are hoping to be healthy, seasoned and playing our best soccer come tournament time.”
As always, he expects to compete for a WOSL title and knows Anna will be a strong challenger.
• Miami East
CASSTOWN — Last season, Miami East claimed a Cross County Conference title in Heidi Perry’s first year as the team’s head coach. And they’re looking to win back-to-back titles this year.
“We want to win the conference again and maintain a positive team spirit with high intensity and competitiveness — and we hope to take that energy into the postseason tournament run,” Perry said. “Of course, you never know for sure, as teams change so much each year, so we will prepare to be at the top of our game for every opponent. Bethel is always a strong contender in the league, and Newton runs a strong program.”
Senior keeper Kelly Buck will help make sure the Vikings are in every game, along with defenders senior Emily Adkins, junior Rori Hunley, sophomore Korrah Patton and freshman Sera Rush. Juniors Libby Carpenter, Sophie Markley and Cadence Gross, sophomores Paxton Hunley and Chloe Aviles and freshman Lindi Snodgrass will patrol the midfield, and seniors Kirsten Overholser and Chloee Thomas and juniors Meadow Powers and Cassidy Walker will look to finish goals up top.
PLEASANT HILL — Marissa Klehman returns for her second season as coach.
Key returners at the striker position include juniors Marissa Deeter, Haley Abrams and Jaden Stine.
The key midfielders include senior Crystal Houk, freshman Emma Zsakal and junior Riley Resides.
Leading the defenders will be seniors Kim Laughman, Brooke Deeter and Kait Stevenson, along with freshman Caylee Hoy.
The goalies will be senior Emily Gross and sophomore Kyleigh Armentrout.
Kleman expects Miami East and Bethel to be strong again in the CCC.
“This year our team is aiming to get 10 wins under our belt,” Kleman said. “This year, we need to beat Miami East and Bethel. We lost to both of those teams in close games last year and we look forward to playing them again. Our team has a goal of contending in every game we play, finishing shots and we are looking to finish higher in the conference.”
Contact Troy Daily News Sports Editor Josh Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter. Contact Piqua Daily Call Sports Editor Rob Kiser at email@example.com.
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