MIAMI COUNTY — Knowing how much firepower they had coming back but then seeing the 2020 season itself threatened by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Troy girls soccer team could have hung its collective head and let fear get the best of it.
Instead, the Trojans got to work, no matter what the end outcome might have been.
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m proud of the girls. All summer long, they put in the work, they had great attendance and they worked hard, all with the understanding that it might all be for naught,” Troy coach Michael Rasey said. “Now that we’ve got the green light, it’s full speed ahead, and we’re looking forward to a pretty good season.”
The defending Miami Valley League Miami Division champion Trojans return a host of talent from last year’s team — including the league’s leading returning scorer — and with all of its added depth, too, the team is looking to repeat as league champs.
“The good thing for us this year is we’ve got a ton of depth,” Rasey said. “We had 46 girls at tryouts this year. We’ve got a ton of talent. Our offense is all returning. Our JV team is going to be good, too — we’ve got some good, young players that, any other year, would probably be on varsity, but the players already there are just so good coming back from a league championship team.”
Key among the Trojans’ weapons is Julianna Williams, who led the MVL with 19 goals and 14 assists for 52 total points.
“You’ve got to start up top with Julianna. She’s returning as a first team all-state player,” Rasey said. “She’s someone who, I think, has proven to be one of the best players in Dayton over the last couple years. It’ll be fun to be able to see her play her senior year. She’s climbing up the school record board, too, and she’ll be a player to watch.”
Also back are seniors Chamber Browning and Madison Burton in the midfield and Ali Davis on defense, as well as Alexis Carroll on offense.
Troy’s has a number of younger players that also bring back varsity experience, though. Junior Maddie Brewer and sophomore Leah Harnish were two of the team’s top four scorers last year along with Williams and Browning. Sophomores Kara Steinke, Taiah Higbee and Maddison Manson also return, as do juniors Ava Raskay and Claire Tibbitts.
The Trojans did graduate their goalkeeper, though, and they plan on platooning three juniors there. Jovie Studebaker and Kayleigh McMullen were backups last season, while Kelly Kauflin is a converted goalie.
New to varsity this season will be junior Kylie King and sophomore Catie O’Neill on defense, senior Sumedha Wundavalli and Ella Kirkpatrick in the midfield and freshman Aubrey Murphy, who is versatile enough to contribute everywhere.
With the MVL switching to an all-league schedule this season, though, defending the league title will be a little stranger than most years.
“This will be a unique year for us. Rarely do you play a team twice,” Rasey said. “We’ll see every team twice except for two of them, so it’s going to be a unique challenge. We know everyone is gunning for us, so we know we’ve got to step up and play our best now that we have an opportunity to play a season.”
After seeing a share of the MVL Miami Division title disappear in the final league game of the regular season last year, Tippecanoe is focused on climbing to the top of the division this season.
“Our goal every year is to win league and make a long run in the tournament,” said Tippecanoe coach Brandon Baker, back for his eighth year with the team. “Troy is always a team to beat, and Butler will also be tough.”
Senior Alyssa Toman and juniors Dani Detwiller and Jaila Fletcher return for the Red Devils up front, with juniors Shelby Ferguson, Kenna Smith and Morgan Chaplin in the midfield. Junior Ashlyn Tarzinski will be back in goal, with senior Lauren Clapper and juniors Emily Rhoades, Payton Willis and Kat Oen on defense.
Kelsey Smith takes over as Piqua’s new girls soccer coach, and she wants to see the Indians do better than last year’s 3-12-2 record in the loaded Miami Valley League Miami Division.
“Our main team goal is to improve our record from last year,” Smith said. “My goal as a coach is to see each individual girl improve their skills and have fun during this unprecedented season.”
The Indians have a number of returners from last year, starting with senior goalkeeper Karley Johns. Rachel Cavendar and Elise Cox will join her on defense, Jordyn Karn and Colleen Cox will play the midfield and Audrey Evans will lead the forwards up front.
Milton-Union will be aiming to unseat five-time defending Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division champion Waynesville in its final year in the league this season.
“Our league has been very strong in girls soccer over the last seven years,” Milton-Union coach Andy Grudich said. “Our goal every year is to win the league and make a deep tournament run. We have a strong core of seniors who we will depend on to lead us this season.”
Leading that group of seniors is four-year starter Morgan Grudich in the midfield along with senior Madelyn Johnson, sophomore Cami Schatz and freshmen Ava Berberich and Morgan Quisenberry. Junior Aulbrey Hergenrather was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer last season up front along with freshman Rachel Jacobs, with seniors Kelli Davis and Kenzi and Dani Everett on defense and first-year keeper junior Maddie Winemiller.
Josh Garlough takes over as Bethel’s head coach and wants to see the Bees in a position to compete for the Cross County Conference title in the last year for the league.
Darani Wenrick returns at forward along with Faith Wiley, with Ellie Daniels, Cait Hallum and Kacie Hensley in the midfield and Mac Staggs and Sammy Hull on defense.
“We expect a tough year in the CCC, with Newton and Miami East being must-win games in order to compete for the league title,” Garlough said. “Our goals this year are to be in position at the end of the year to have a chance at winning the league title while trying to stay healthy before the start of the tournament.”
• Miami East
Jeremy Paulus takes over a Miami East program that returns a solid lineup from last year’s team and is looking to finish strong in the CCC before moving to a new league in 2021.
“We are a well-balanced team of speed and strength,” Paulus said. “Good balance of experience with seniors and juniors as well as several very talented underclassmen and a few freshmen. We are looking forward to showing the changes in our program and providing our Viking fans a product they can be proud of.”
First-year Newton coach Danny Diceanu takes over an Indians squad that looks to be one of the contenders for the final CCC championship.
“Our first goal is to have a season,” Diceanu said. “After that, we want to compete, develop and grow throughout the season as a team.”
Seniors Marissa Deeter and Jaden Stein will lead the Indians up front, with sophomore Emma Szakal and junior Maya Diceanu in the midfield and senior Haley Abrams and sophomore Caylee Hoy on defense. Junior goalkeeper Kyleigh Armentrout also returns, and freshmen Reese Hess and Jadaan Miller join the team.
Josh Duncan takes over as Lehman’s head coach, taking over a team loaded with senior talent and looking for a league title.
Lindsey Magoteaux is back for her senior season at forward after piling up 32 goals and 13 assists last season, and Noelle Dexter also brings back 12 goals and six assists. Senior Anna Cianciolo and junior Ella Monnin return on defense along with junior goalkeeper Heidi Toner, while Ella Black is the only returning player in the midfield.
“Our two main goals are to win conference and get to regionals,” Duncan said. “We know the road will be much tougher this year, but I am confident these girls will come together and have a special season. Most importantly, though, our biggest goal is to improve each day from our practices to our games.”