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City League Roundup: Boys soccer teams excited to kick off season

JARROD ULREY
julrey@thisweeknews.com
Derrick Ibrahim (7), a senior forward who scored 15 goals last season, returns to lead the Centennial boys soccer team under coach Scott George.

After falling behind by one goal early in the second half against visiting West on Sept. 14, the Centennial boys soccer team put together a four-goal flurry on its way to a 5-2 victory.

That it was opening night for City League programs -- about three weeks later than the rest of central Ohio began its season after Columbus City Schools suspended sports temporarily because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic -- wasn't lost on Stars coach Scott George or his players.

"I told them we never knew that we'd be back here, so enjoy this game," George said. "I didn't know what to expect because we haven't even gotten a preseason. We don't even know who's good at what position. They could have gotten their heads down. We've had teams where once we give up a lead it's pretty much a foregone conclusion, but these guys fought hard to overpower them."

There are nine City programs competing in boys soccer this fall, with Beechcroft, Centennial, International, Mifflin, Northland and Whetstone from the City-North Division and Briggs, Walnut Ridge and West from the City-South having teams.

Each team will play eight games against City programs and then there will be a tournament among City teams, beginning the third week of October.

Senior forward Derrick Ibrahim, who scored 15 goals last season as Centennial reached a Division II district semifinal and went 7-7-3, had two goals in the opening win.

Seniors Ayoub Bennaouinate (defender), Braden Lee (midfielder), Nick Loudner (defender), Kyengo Munywoki (defender) and Nicky Oberdick (midfielder), junior Milosz Rehfus (goalie) and sophomores Hany Eldessouky (midfielder), Asier Netserab (midfielder) and Alexio Sophocleous (midfielder) also are among Centennial's key players.

Centennial continues league action Thursday, Sept. 24, at Beechcroft, Monday, Sept. 28, at home against Northland and Wednesday, Sept. 30, at home against Mifflin.

Beechcroft, which went 8-4-3 last season, opened with a 3-1 loss to Whetstone on Sept. 14.

Senior forward Roland Amoah, who had nine goals and 12 assists a year ago, is among the top returnees along with seniors Eric Mensah (defender) and Anup Rimal (center midfielder) and juniors Anil Chhetri (defender) and Trey Smith (defender).

"We're just excited to have the opportunity to play in 2020," coach Derek Hone said. "We hope to be competitive in the City-North. Our situation will depend on the ownership and commitment level with our group. Since the suspension in August, we've lost a few to jobs and other things as COVID has scared some guardians from allowing their student-athletes to play. Training and attendance are the priority for us right now. We also need to make sure we keep our Cougars safe. (This year) has provided a little reflection on perspective and priorities."

Second-year Northland coach Mahamoud Samanter was pleased that 35 players came out this fall.

The Vikings, who beat International 5-0 in their opener Sept. 14, are led by seniors Abdihakim Abdi (striker), Kabir Abdullahi (winger), Didison Matamba (defender), Trezor Matamba (defender), Dal Kam Mun (defender), Ahmed Sugal (winger), Parjal Tiwari (striker) and Praladh Upper (midfielder) and juniors Bajay Darje (goalie), Yasin Hussien (defender) and Roland Ohene Ntow (midfielder).

"We're just hoping for the best," Samanter said. "It's a great, hard-working group."

Eastmoor football team excited to play

Following a run to a Division III state semifinal in 2018, the Eastmoor Academy football team entered last season with limited experience and lost four of its first five games.

The talent of the young players thrust into key roles never was in question to coach Jim Miranda, and his belief was backed up when the Warriors closed the season on a five-game winning streak to finish 6-4 overall and third (5-2) in the City-South behind Walnut Ridge (7-0) and Marion-Franklin (6-1).

Eastmoor has a returning sophomore at quarterback in Ahmad Armstrong, and sophomore Diamonte Salley is a wide receiver and linebacker who also could be a cornerstone player.

Miranda has returned for his 18th season after being unable to coach for much of last season because of a foot issue.

"I'm really happy to have a season, especially after last year," Miranda said. "I was in and out and missed a bunch of practices and had to sneak in on some games on video. The kids are excited to have the opportunity to play. I like the talent this year, and some of those guys are going to be coming back."

The Warriors opened Sept. 18 by beating Northland 49-0 and follow with matchups Thursday, Sept. 24, at Walnut Ridge and Oct. 3 at Africentric before the postseason begins Oct. 9.

All teams are eligible for the playoffs this fall, with Eastmoor expected to be in Division III when seeding is announced Tuesday, Sept. 29, and Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Brackets are expected to be posted Oct. 1.

Senior running back Cameron Foster should be another of the team's top players on offense, along with senior Larenz Lacking and juniors Devin Lloyd and Isaiah Pressley at wide receiver.

Miranda also is excited about his offensive and defensive lines, which feature Malachi Coleman and Brandon Lovelace on defense and Cameron Coleman at center.

"It's going to be interesting," Miranda said. "I like some of the talent we have and we only had one scrimmage so there are a lot of question marks, but I'm excited. I'm trying to impose a culture and that you have to do the right things when you're away from us."

City also kicks off other fall sports

The seasons also began for City programs in girls tennis and girls volleyball during the second full week of September.

In tennis, Centennial, Eastmoor, Independence, Marion-Franklin, Mifflin, Northland, South and Whetstone are playing an all-City schedule against each of the other teams regardless of division.

All 15 City schools are competing in girls volleyball and the teams are divided into the traditional North and South divisions. A City tournament will begin after the last regular-season matches are held Oct. 28, and City teams aren't expected to participate in the OHSAA district tournament.

In girls soccer, Centennial, Northland, West and Whetstone have teams and are playing a six-game league schedule that began Sept. 21, with a league tournament to follow.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Eric Mensah, a senior defender, is among the top returnees for the Beechcroft boys soccer team.