STRONGSVILLE — Scott Ward hasn’t been in charge of Brunswick’s girls soccer program since 2008, but he never really left it, either.
Ward has been involved with the Blue Devils travel program before rejoining the high school staff last fall as its junior varsity coach.
Now Ward is back at the varsity controls after the resignation of Ross Nicol. Brunswick returns the majority of its roster from a year ago and is preparing to take the next step.
“It’s been good being back and getting these girls back to where they need to be.” said Ward, who takes over a team that was 8-8-2 last season. “It’s been nice because I’ve coached a lot of these players in the travel program.”
The 43-year-old led the Blue Devils to back-to-back Northeast Ohio Conference River Division titles in his only two seasons, earning Gazette Coach of the Year honors in 2007.
Now he looks to bring that magic back, as Brunswick returns a team that started all underclassmen and is moving from the NOC’s Valley Division to the River.
“We have a lot of potential,” Ward said. “This team has to realize the mental toughness and commitment it takes to win, and, if they do that, they can be as good as or better than those teams.”
Ward and his coaching staff will get an early look at their roster this weekend, as they will have two teams entered in the Adidas National Showcase in Strongsville. Medina and Buckeye will also take part in the annual event, which starts today.
The Blue Devils return All-Gazette players in midfielder Macey Jugulion and forward Sam Malleo, along with forward Olivia Young, defender Gabby Maslowski and goalkeeper Erin Calhoun.
“This gives you an opportunity for your players to play against great competition and show what they can do,” Ward said. “There is no better competition than the Adidas.”
Like the Blue Devils, Medina returns a host of talented players from a team that was one win away from the Division I state semifinals.
The Bees, who lost to eventual state champion Perrysburg in the regional finals, graduated just one starter and, according to coach Doug Coreno, recently completed a competitive team camp that should result in players asserting themselves this weekend.
Medina, which will be without Nicole Bennett, Sydney Leckie and Olivia Sency, will have five squads playing in Strongsville.
“The showcase offers a great opportunity for players to prove themselves,” Coreno said. “Every year we get a competitive schedule. This weekend we will see some of the top teams from the region.
“It’s time for the girls to show how much work they’ve put in over the past eight months.”
One of those matches will be a rematch with Perrysburg on Saturday morning at Strongsville High School.
Buckeye loses eight seniors, including six starters, but has a strong group of underclassmen that are primed to defend the Patriot Athletic Conference Stars Division title.
Senior defender Heather Thomas, junior midfielder Norah Barnes and junior defender/forward Shannon Peicu have been selected as team captains.
“(They) have worked hard this summer to get the team prepared for the showcase and the upcoming season,” Bucks coach Bud Roberts said. “We are looking at the showcase to see how players look at different positions to give some guidance of areas we need to work on going in to the start of the season.”
The area will have ten players represented in the Showcase’s Junior/Senior Spotlight games, which will be Saturday night at the Ehrnfelt Soccer Complex.
Incoming senior Jessica Conley (Buckeye, M) will take part along with juniors Hannah Stacy (Buckeye, GK/D), Olivia Young (Brunswick, D), Casey Aguinaga (Brunswick, M), Leanne Prandi (Medina, D), Geena Gamble (Brunswick, M), Norah Barnes (Buckeye, M), Nicole Shotzbarger (Brunswick, F), Jordan Reynolds (Medina, GK) and Marissa Fabrizi (Brunswick, D).
Contact Dan Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org.