Beachwood’s girls’ soccer team enters the 2019 season with high hopes and lofty goals.
The Bison have a reason for their optimism considering they return 10 starters from the squad that finished 15-4 last season.
“The sky is the limit in 2019,’ second-year coach Jonathan Kostoff said. “We return 10 starters and believe our best soccer will be this fall. Our goal is to win the (Chagrin Valley Conference) Metro Division, a feat we have not accomplished since 2007, and play for a district championship. We turned a corner as a program in 2018 tripling our win total from 2017 and now want to play for hardware. This group wants to leave a legacy in this program’s history and believe the hard work they have put in since we lost to Kirtland has set them up for an even better season than 2018.”
Kostoff amped up his team’s scrimmage and regular season with several key tests he expects will prepare the Bison for the meat-grinder it will face in the Metro Division and in the postseason.
The Bison will scrimmage Aurora, a Division II district finalist, and Revere, a Division II regional finalist, as well as Amherst Steele, a strong Division I program. Beachwood also has regular season games scheduled against Grandview Heights, the team that finished last season ranked No. 10 in Division III, St. Vincent-St. Mary, Chardon and North Ridgeville.
Those games are in addition to the difficult contests the Bison will face in league play against league stalwarts Cuyahoga Heights, Independence and Wickliffe and league newcomers Lutheran West, Trinity and Brooklyn.
“The biggest challenge for our group is staying healthy,” Kostoff said. “We are not the deepest team by any means in the CVC. We are finding different ways to have some sessions that are lighter instead of going 110-percent at every training session. We also graduated two key defensive pieces from last fall and are looking at some younger players to step in and fill those roles for us rather quickly.”
Fortunately for the Bison, they tied Independence with six players returning who earned all-conference honors last season.
Sophomores Romi Roth and Sydney Sarver both were named first-team All-CVC while seniors Ashley Perryman and Carly Petti earned second-team honors. Seniors Miranda Luxenburg and Sophie Karl both were named honorable mention.
Roth, a second-team All-Ohioan, and Sarver provide the Bison with a lethal attack out of the forward position as they combined to score 52 of Beachwood’s 76 goals. Roth found the back of the net 29 times and also added eight assists.
“Romi asserted herself as one of the best young strikers in the state last fall by scoring 29 goals,” Kostoff said. “She continues to work on her craft to be even quicker on the ball and find new ways to take on defenders. Romi’s best soccer is ahead of her and we are all excited to see how she follows up on her breakout 2018 season.”
Sarver scored 23 times with nine assists.
“Sydney had a fantastic first season,” Kostoff said. “The sophomore tandem that Romi and Sydney create is a matchup nightmare for opposing teams. They play so well together up front. Sydney was the second leading scorer on the team last fall and has her sights set on scoring and setting her teammates up even more in 2019. She had a fantastic offseason and will play a big role once again as an underclassman in our success.”
Perryman scored two goals with two assists out of her defensive position. Both of her goals came in the final four minutes of a 3-2 loss at Berkshire when Kostoff moved her from defense to offense.
“Ashley is one of the greatest athletes I have ever had the privilege either to coach, be a teammate of or seen,” Kostoff said. “The accolades she has earned between track and soccer, including two outdoor track state championships, is truly special. Her recovery speed, physicality and tactical awareness defensively is what separates her on the soccer field.”
Petti, a forward, scored 10 goals and assisted on nine others.
“Carly took advantage of all of the offseason options to improve her skills technically,” Kostoff said. “Each year she has added to her goal total and will certainly do that again this fall. She was nominated to be a captain for the third time in her career and will lead us once again both on and off the field. She has taken the time to be an even better communicator on the field during games.”
Luxenburg, a defender, and Karl, a midfielder, both earned All-Greater Cleveland honorable mention honors.
“Miranda is the most all-around team player that I have ever coached. Her willingness to play any position on the field and even to step in goal for us last year for five games was crucial to our success. She helps anchor our defensive line that helped us to a school record 10 shutouts in 2018,” Kostoff said. “Sophie is a soccer fanatic. She loves the game and is always asking questions to the coaching staff and her teammates on where she can improve. Her work ethic and leadership skills are something every player should seek to emulate. She is without a doubt the most selfless soccer play I have ever coached. Sophie would rather set her teammates up for success than score a goal herself. She has made major strides since the season ended in October reading the game and understanding how to be even more tactically aware on the field. Sophie is always encouraging her teammates on and off the field by helping them keep a positive mindset.”
Senior Lucila Thal and junior Sunny Wang are projected to team up with Luxenburg to defend goalkeeper Madison Prince.
Thal scored one goal and assisted on two others while Wang recorded two goals and four assists.
“Lucila is one of our five four-year varsity letter winners and tactically one of the most gifted players I have ever been around. Her knowledge of the game helps all of her teammates have a better understanding of where to be on the field and how to improve the team’s shape. She wins a lot of tackles for us and controls our midfield,” Kostoff said. “Sunny is set to be our most under the radar player this fall. She continues to be more confident in her play and has worked tirelessly in small group training sessions to improve technically. “
Prince returns in the net after recording 10 shutouts and 106 saves. She allowed just 0.8 goals per game last season.
“Madison is always asking for help from our coaching staff for ways to improve,” Kostoff said. “She put in a lot of work in individual sessions with our goalie coach to find new ways to prepare for games.”
Beachwood, who hosts rival Orange in a Friday Night Futbol matchup on Aug. 16, has the pieces in place to achieve all of its goals.
But, the Bison aren’t deep, so they must remain healthy and focused on the task at hand to reach their lofty aspirations.
“We must stay hungry and focus on each day getting better,” Kostoff said. “What we did last fall tripling our win total from 2017 was special but our attention has shifted to 2019 and finding ways to improve as a group while not looking in the rearview mirror.”