MANSFIELD — Five straight Division II district championships.
Half a decade of complete dominance. That is the state of the Lexington boys soccer program heading into the 2023 season. So, it is no surprise why they are in the Top 4 of the Richland 25, a summer-long project dedicated to counting down the Top 25 Richland County teams returning in 2023-24.
Let’s take a look at Lex soccer and why it is again the favorite to make it six straight.
4. Lexington Boys Soccer
Over the last decade, the Lexington Minutemen boys soccer teams proved one thing; they do not rebuild, they reload. And that seems to be the narrative in 2023. Lex will have to replace first team All-Ohioan Alex Depperschmidt and fellow 2022 captain Luke Roberts so that will be anything but easy.
Yet, Lex brings back seven players who earned postseason honors last season so even though they lose their captains, they are loaded with experience.
Everything will start with the defense where senior Terrance Corbin will be the headliner. Corbin earned first team All-District and first team All-Ohio Cardinal Conference honors last year and is a sure thing All-Ohio defender for the Minutemen. Fellow senior Brody Earick will also return to the defensive side of the pitch after earning honorable mention All-District honors at the position. Seniors Chris Weibacker, Austin Fisher and Gabe Schmidt will all bring a veteran presence back on defense as well.
Then, the focus switches to midfield where Lex has a plethora of talent and experience. Senior Jaxson Husty joins fellow senior Zachary Turlo and junior Will Perkins as Lex midfielders who bring back a lot of experience and talent. Perkins was an honorable mention All-District and OCC player last year. Husty was a first team All-District and second team All-OCC midfielder last season while Turlo was second team All-District and OCC. Senior Michael Togliatti will see time at midfield and forward along with fellow senior Jack Hiebel who will play mainly in the middle of the pitch and junior Jaybyx Mack. Senior Lucas Dove will see time at midfielder as well as on defense while senior Iram Sanchez will be listed as a midfielder/forward along with junior Jackson Pigg.
Senior Dylan George is the lone listed forward coming back from last year’s roster. He was an honorable mention All-OCC player a year ago and will see plenty of more opportunities as the go-to goal scorer. Also, expect to see some of the previous names mentioned as forwards depending on the formation Lex plays from game to game.
Junior Nolan Steward will be back in goal again this season after earning second team All-District honors as a young keeper. With a year of experience under his belt, he should help build on the momentum grabbed last season when the Minutemen had nine shutouts and six one-goal games which led to a 15-5-1 record and a trip to the regional tournament.
In all, Lex will have 12 seniors who made last year’s roster along with four juniors so veteran leadership will not be a problem. And with head coach Peter Them continuing to build on quite a legacy, Lex is in for another magical season.
On the Cusp
The Madison Rams went 18-6 last season and shared the Ohio Cardinal Conference softball championship.
And while they lose a lot of players who played a ton of games in their careers, don’t expect to see a major dropoff in 2024. Sure, they have to replace Olive Schulz, Hope Barrett and Bri Bowles, just to name a few, but just look at who they have coming back. Emily Nolan may be the best leadoff hitter in Richland County in 2024 after hitting .500. Emma Stankovich is a superstar in the making and Layla Azmoun was the OCC Pitcher of the Year last year.
Kyleigh Reiter is getting Division I looks and is an early favorite for the Mansfield News Journal Player of the Year honor. Kendyll Kershner has played a lot of games and Campbell Kiser will be back from a knee injury better than ever and should have a sophomore season that takes off like a rocketship. Addy Ferris and Ashley Markley all played pivotal roles in the OCC title.
Thinking the Rams will have a down year in 2024? Think again.
This article originally appeared on Mansfield News Journal: Richland 24: Lexington boys soccer to challenge for Ohio Cardinal Conference title