This article was written by Scott Springer of the Cincinnati Enquirer. You can view the original story online here.
MARIEMONT - Unlike most high school teams, no Mariemont High School varsity soccer player has suffered the anguish of defeat this season in a fall full of questions.
Mariemont's girls have had three ties, but are likewise unblemished as postseason play nears. The girls are seeking their first Cincinnati Hills League title since 2006 when many of the players were toddlers. State-wise, they are ranked second in Division III behind Waynesville.
The boys are going for their first CHL title in four years, trying to wrestle it away from Wyoming who has won the previous three. Head-to-head, the Warriors downed the Cowboys 3-2 Sept. 6 at Wyoming.
Erik Vanags has coached high school soccer for 25 years with 14 of those being at Mariemont and the last 10 as the head boys coach. To him, this year feels special.
"It's got that feeling," Vanags said. "There was one year where we didn't have a winning record. Other than that, we've won a couple of league titles, we've won a district title and in 2008 we went to a state semi. This year these guys buy into 'one game at a time'. I think with the shutdown in March and guys losing spring seasons, I think that resonates when you say, 'Go play this game like it's your last', because it might just be."
The Warriors feature senior midfielder Luke Brothers, who tops the CHL in scoring and is second in assists. Brothers was CHL First Team last season along with current senior forward Kyle Croll. Junior forward Martin Eisenhauer is also among the league's best scorers and defender Nick Comer is among the assist leaders.
"Having that No. 1 ranking definitely puts a target on our back," Brothers said. "We don't take it too literally. We know what happened last year when Ottawa Hills was ranked No. 1 for most of the year and they never ended up winning the state title. Right now, we're not focused on what we're ranked, we're focused on taking one game at a time, winning the CHL and moving into the tournament from there."
In goal, Maddux Miller has six shutouts. Kyle Romick is a senior defender and one of the team's four veteran captains. Romick says the team effort of the Warriors has put them in a good place.
"Historically we've always had some pretty good teams," Romick said. "There's always that cusp where it becomes a good team as opposed to a really great team. Things are hopeful this year. I think we have a really, really good team."
Like Vanags, Mike Haney has been with Mariemont soccer for awhile. Haney coached their last league title team 14 years ago and has been a Warrior since 1998. Indian Hill has won seven of the last eight league crowns but lost to Mariemont 4-1 on Sept. 16.
"It's probably the first time that both of us (Mariemont boys and girls) have been ranked No. 1 in the city at the same time," Haney said.
Junior Ericka Dewey leads the girls team in goal with seven shutouts. Haney calls his "back four" the best he's had at Mariemont.
Offensively, Marly Megowen, Maddy Murphy, Olivia Tritsch and Myah Giordullo are all among the CHL's top 20 scorers. Haney's girls made the Division III regional final last season and hope to make a deep run this fall.
Matches in front of the Lady Warriors are McNicholas on Saturday, a home game with CHL rival Madeira Oct. 14 and a tough road tilt at Badin Oct. 17. The long-awaited league title can be won outright should they beat Madeira's Amazons. Otherwise, it would be shared with Indian Hill.
"That's usually the case every year," Haney said. "That Madeira game has decided the title many, many years. Which makes it fun. It's a great rivalry. It doesn't take much to get the kids geared up for that game."
Mariemont's boys host Batavia Saturday then have a challenging road game at Madeira Tuesday night Oct. 13. As with the girls, a win over Madeira's Mustangs would make them CHL champ outright, otherwise, they could share it with Wyoming.
"Throw everything out of the window," Vanags said of the Madeira tilt. "Your familiar foe/friend.Anything can happen in those matches. Talk about a school that would love to take our season down the way that it's been going, Madeira would probably be the first one at the door to say, 'Us! We'll do that!' Our guys know that."