After enjoying an unbeaten regular season, including going 9-0 in the Western Buckeye League, Wapakoneta aims to build on last year’s success with another run at the league title and a deep run in the postseason after reaching the Division II region semifinals.
The Redskins lost first-team all-state midfielder Katie Manger to graduation, but have back first-team all-WBL and all-district selection senior Tori Carter, second team members seniors Emily Ruppert, who had 15 goals in 2017, and Emma Kentner, an all-district honorable mention honoree, third team picks seniors Abbigail Ruppert, a second team all-district honoree, and Nicole Richard and honorable mention choice junior Madi Lause, who had 12 goals and 16 assists last season, among a team that has 19 letter winners, including 12 seniors, returning.
“We return a full team of varsity experience and talent who will be playing with a lot of maturity,” Wapak coach Mike Foor said. “The goal this year is to compete again for the WBL title and make another deep run in the postseason.”
Elida looks to be in a good position to challenge the Redskins after finishing second in the WBL and forcing Wapak into a shootout to decide the Elida district final in 2017.
Those returning for the Bulldogs include first-team all-WBL and district second team selection senior Jency Jenkins, who finished 2017 with 15 goals and nine assists, second team all-league picks and district honorable mention members seniors Cienna Kuhn and Baylie Moening among the eight returning letter winners.
“The goal this season is to be a dominate force in the WBL and return to district finals,” Elida coach Elise Jenkins said. “After falling short the past three seasons at districts, we are looking to hopefully change that outcome.”
Like Elida with midfielder Jaydon Hollstein, Shawnee saw second team all-state defender Alaina Behnke graduate earlier this year.
The Indians, who were third in the WBL last season, have back second team all-league choice junior Madi Mason and third team member senior Rachel Russ among the six starters and 11 letter winners returning. Mason and Russ were also all-district honorable mention choices.
“The Indians have improved on team defending and attacking the goal with multiple threats,” coach Caroline O’Brien said. “The Indians will need to work on their game of possession and speed of play. With a healthy mix of veterans and newcomers, the Indians are excited about the season and look forward to being a threat in the league and along the tournament trail.”
Bath’s Chandler Clark earned first-team all-WBL and all-district honors as a freshman in 2017 as the Wildkittens finished tied with Defiance for fourth in the league. Senior Tori Dackin, a district honorable mention selection, and junior Ainsley Miller were third-team selections also for Bath last season.
Junior Ally Will was a third team all-WBL member and all-district honorable mention selection for St. Marys, which came in sixth in the league, and senior teammate Meredith McMurray made honorable mention in the WBL and district.
Second team all-WBL pick and all-district honorable mention pick junior Kelsey Erford returns for Ottawa-Glandorf along with third team member senior Caitlin Bockrath, also all-district honorable mention along with teammate senior Erin Kaufman.
“We will be more competitive and stronger than last year,” Titans coach Chris Podraski said. “I know it’s going to be challenging but I believe we can fight for the WBL championship and make a deep run in the tournament.”
Celina has 16 letter winners returning from its eight place WBL squad, including first team choice and second all-district member junior Reilly Cox, third team member sophomore Carley Eichler and honorable mention selection senior Mya Lockwood. Eichler and Lockwood were also received all-district honorable mention recognition.
“The Lady Bulldogs will be young again with only four seniors on the roster,” coach Eric Gerker said. “The Bulldogs defense returns everyone from last year, including sophomore goalkeeper Kennedy Henry. In 2017, the Bulldogs allowed 31 goals in 18 matches. They will look to improve on that this season.”
Hanna Holland made the all-WBL first team as a sophomore for Kenton and sophomore teammate was a third team member.
WBL and district honorable mention selection Savanna Nygren is among 10 letter winners back for Van Wert, which was 10th in the WBL in 2017. The Cougars’ Michaella Johnson was also all-district honorable mention.
“We are getting ready for a challenging season ahead as we all get to know each other and adopt the ideas in front of
us,” coach Solomon Okang said. “I believe we will be fine, we believe that with God all things are possible. We accept the challenge, and the girls and I will do whatever we can to achieve our goal.”
Here is a look at other area conferences.
Conference co-champ Allen East returns 14 letter winners including first team all-conference selections senior Ally Richardson and juniors Olivia Silone and Julia Meyer, second team pick senior Abby Garver and honorable mention choices seniors Gabby Scott, who along with Garver was all-district honorable mention, and Kinsey Helser and junior Tori Newland. Richardson also gained first team all-district recognition.
“We have a lot of senior leadership this year in all positions on the field,” coach Lamar Houston said. “We are hoping to have much more consistency in play this year which should lead to greater success this season. We are also hoping to increase the speed of which we play and to continue improving upon moving without the ball and our overall play.”
Senior Averey Rumor, a all-district honorable mention pick, and junior Kayla White, a first team all-district selection, made the all-NWC first team for conference co-champ Bluffton. Junior Hannah Yost and sophomore Laykin Garmatter were honorable mention picks.
Third-place finisher Spencerville returns 10 letter winners, including first team NWC choice and district second team selection junior Kelsey Shaffer, second team members juniors Raygen Martinez and Kottia Williams, both honorable mention all-district, and NWC honorable mention selections juniors Jenna Litsey and Nelaya Burden and sophomore Ariana McMichael.
“In the third year for the girls program at Spencerville, having eight returning juniors and four returning sophomores, we are hoping the added skill, strength, and experience, combined with our speed, will improve our winning record of the first two seasons, give us a shot at our conference, and advance us further into tournament play,” coach Kathy Goecke said. “The team is up for the challenge, even with only 14 players and a few being new to the sport.”
Ada sophomore Brenna Hissong joined junior teammate Bella East on the all-NWC first team. The Bulldogs, who were fourth in the conference, also saw junior Katie Butterfield make the second and senior Haley Callahan and junior Ella Poling earn honorable mention.
Delphos Jefferson, fifth in 2017, has back Division III second team all-state selection and first all-NWC and all-district member senior Maddie McConnahea among 11 letter winners as well as NWC second team selection sophomore Emily Dientsberger and honorable mention pick senior Michelle Rode, who were both all-district honorable mention.
“There are a lot of good teams in the area and the NWC conference,” Wildcats coach Josiah Stober said. “
We look to continue to improve on our fundamentals and working together. The girls have been working really hard leading into the season and look to improve as the year goes on.”
Sixth-place finisher Paulding saw senior Jen Stahl, juniors Miah Rue and Sydney McCullough and sophomore Morgan Iler earn honorable mention all-NWC status.
Junior McKenna Thompson made the second team and junior Salex Overmyer earned honorable mention selection for Crestview, which was eighth in the NWC standings.
Lincolnview’s girls team has merged with the boys team this season. Look for the Lancers’ information in the boys soccer preview later this week.
Putnam County League
Those returning for 2017 champ Kalida include first team PCL selections seniors Lauren Langhals, a all-district first team and second team D-III all-state member, and Halie Kaufman and junior Bailey White, both honorable menton all-district, and second team member junior Abby Wurth and honorable mention pick junior Madison Langhals.
“For the 2018 season we plan to continue the (Kalida) tradition of excellence,” coach David Kehres said. “We will be competitive with all teams on our schedule.”
League runner-up Ottoville returns first team all-PCL picks seniors Kasey Knippen, a first team all-district choice, and Haley Hoersten.
“We have two returning senior leaders that will be very good leaders to our underclassmen,” coach Doug German said.
Continental has back first team all-PCL and all-district and second team D-III all-state member junior Alex Hoeffel, PCL second team and honorable mention district choices seniors Sierra Prowant and Riley Fenter and honorable mention selections senior Brooke Davis, junior Katie Keller and sophomore Maddie Burke.
“We have a good combination of youth and experience,” Pirates coach Toby Bidlack said. “We have several talented players and if we can develop our defensive pressure and offensive efficiency, we could have a successful season.”
Miller City has back second team PCL and district honorable mention selection senior Abby Niese among its 11 returning letter winners.
“We are going to be a young team this season,” Miller City coach Ross Heuerman said. “We have a lot of girls back from last season that played quality minutes. We are looking to build off of last year and have a competitive season in league and non-league.”
All-PCL second team and all-honorable mention pick senior Madison Neidert returns along with six other letter winners for Fort Jennings.
“The Lady Musketeers have a good number of returning varsity team members bring great leadership and a positive attitude onto the field,” coach Rob Warnecke said. “We have a talented group of hard working players that are looking to improved in all aspects of the game.”
West Ohio Soccer League
Third place Coldwater saw senior Erin Schritz receive first team all-league honors and senior goalie Grace Bruns make the second team. Both earned honorable mention all-district
After finishing fourth in 2017, Lima Central Catholic has back first team WOSL and all-district and second team D-III state selection senior Avery Rice, second team pick senior Jessica Wilker and honorable mention choices senior Hailey Koenig and junior Sophia Santaguida. Wilker and Koenig were all-district honorable mention.
“We have a lot of returning experience on this team, including a strong senior class and with the addition of some very talented freshmen, we look to be very competitive this year,” LCC coach Mike Santaguida said. “We play a very tough regular season schedule that should help us prepare of the postseason.”
Eighth-place finisher Delphos St. John’s returns nine letter winners.
“Having a smaller roster is definitely a challenge for this season,” St. John’s coach Katrina Smith said. “We are working hard to get the team in game shape and ironing out the roles that everyone will be playing. I’m very pleased with where we are as a team so far, and I am excited to see where this group of young women will take us.”
Seniors Grace Homan and Lindsey Okuley were honorable mention all-WOSL for Botkins, which finished sixth in the league standings.
Allen East (fifth in standings) and Lincolnview (eighth) withdrew from the league at the end of 2017.
Ta’lor Washington was Three Rivers Athletic Conference honorable mention as a junior for Lima Senior.
First year Lima Senior coach Hunter Vermillion is “looking to improve from last year’s record, while rebuilding the program and culture.”
North Central Ohio Soccer Association member Cory-Rawson has 11 letter winners back, including sophomore all-district honorable mention selection Zoe Chisholm.
“The Hornets will look to have a bit of a rebuilding year in 2018 after graduating the program’s career scoring leader, starting goalkeeper and central midfielder,” C-R coach Mark Schwemer said. “On a positive note, the Hornets returning sophomore class should be able to fill those shoes as they all had significant minutes last season as freshmen.”
Reach Mike Purdy at 567-242-0451.