DEVOLA - If July's Ohio High School Cup soccer tournament in Columbus is any indication, the Marietta High boys team could bear some watching in its first year as a member of the East Central Ohio League.
The Tigers, who opened up practice at the Devola Soccer Complex Monday night, were 4-0 in the preseason tournament, beating Miami East 8-1, Middletown 3-2, Perry 3-1 and Westland 3-1 (in the championship match).
"We accomplished what we wanted to accomplish," said MHS head coach Todd Morris. "We got to look at about 20 of the guys that are going to make up either our varsity or JV roster - and we learned a lot."
What Morris and his coaching staff basically learned last month is that as much as they will miss the 2011 Marietta soccer graduates, who helped compile a 17-2-2 record in 2010, the Tigers are still a very talented team on the pitch.
Some coaches might even say the Tigers are reloading.
"We have eight seniors and eight freshmen on the team, and I like the mix of experience and youth that we have," Morris said.
Heck, in Columbus, Marietta competed and went undefeated for the most part without Tim Grosel, one of its best players, who was busy playing on the baseball diamond for Beverly/Lowell Post 389/750. To Grosel's credit, though, he did make it for the championship tilt against Westland.
Last year, Grosel was second team All-District and All-SEOAL with 10 goals and nine assists.
Stepping up for Grosel in the preseason tournament were Brennan Ulrig (5 goals), Brent Huck (3 goals), Cole Hamilton (2 goals), Skylar Miracle (2 goals), Steven Stollar (2 goals), Ryan Teer (1 goal), Braden Riley (1 goal), and Jacob Holdren (1 goal).
Looks like the Tigers will be featuring a balanced attack on the pitch this upcoming fall.
Morris said the MHS defense was solid, too, with Jacob Hupp as keeper and Matt Roberts, Andrew Roberts, Daniel Haught, Tanner Rake and Stollar as defenders.
"We did a lot of things well (in Columbus)," Morris said. "But there are areas that we need to focus on once training starts (this week) to get ready for the season."
Marietta is scheduled to host Circleville in a scrimmage at 7 p.m. Aug. 11. The Tigers will then visit West Muskingum for another practice match at 2 p.m. Aug. 13.
On Aug. 20, the Tigers will have their annual alumni game at 7 p.m. at the Devola Soccer Complex.
The following Saturday, Aug. 27, at 5 p.m. MHS will kick off its 2011 campaign against the visiting Linsly Cadets.
One of the highlights of the season will be Marietta's trip to Columbus Crew Stadium to face Chillicothe in a non-league game at 11 a.m. Sept. 10.
"We think we have a good foundation of returning players, and it will be up to us (coaches) to piece things together to put another competitive team on the field," Morris said. "We are very confident we have the athletes and the talent to be where we want to be come late October."