ANNA — Among the many accomplishments last season, the Anna Rockets’ girls soccer team:
- Scored 132 goals, third most in Ohio High School Athletic Association’s record books
- Became the second team in OHSAA history to record 13 (or more) consecutive shutouts
- Won the Western Ohio Soccer League title
The Rockets’ list of accolades included eight additions to the OHSAA girls soccer record books in a variety of categories.
“We were good last year,” Anna coach Mike Noll said. “This year we’ll be a lot better. We’re filling no gaps.”
Anna (18-1) returns four seniors and 10 juniors from a team that won its first 18 games before falling to Lehman Catholic in the Division III district final. The schedule is again tough with new additions including Northmont, Chaminade Julienne and Miami Valley.
Defender Claire Bensman, defender Brooke Hemsworth, midfielder Kelsie McKinney and wing Marissa VanGorden return to provide senior leadership for the Rockets. The roster is also loaded with 10 juniors, Noll’s first class after taking over the program for the 2016 season.
Among the returning juniors are keeper Savanna Hostetler and forward Taylor Noll. Both earned mentions in the OHSAA record books with Hostetler’s 13 consecutive shutouts (No. 2 all-time) and 15 shutouts overall (11th). Noll’s 41 goals ranked 27th all-time and her five assists in one game ranked sixth.
Hostetler’s season came to a sudden end in the sectional final. Hostetler dove to secure a ball and received a kick to the head from an opponent trying to leap over her. She sat out the 4-0 district final loss to Lehman played three days later. The Rockets beat the Cavaliers 2-1 during the regular season to secure the WOSL title with an 8-0 record.
“It’s anybody’s guess how far we would have went,” Noll said of having a healthy Hostetler. “Should we go further this year? I’d say yes.”
The majority of Noll’s juniors have been with him since he started coaching their sixth-grade traveling team. He enters his third season at Anna 31-4-2.
“The big thing is they’re a team. They’ve been together forever,” Noll said of Anna’s success. “They trust each other on the field. This is the third year my defensive line has been together. These girls don’t come out of the game. That speaks volumes when it comes to soccer.”
There are 29 players on the roster and the program has a junior varsity team for the second straight season.
Anna and Lehman are again considered the frontrunners for the WOSL title. Lehman had won every title since the league started in 2014 and had never lost a WOSL game until Anna ended both of those streaks.
The Rockets anticipate a similar — if not better — run this season even if Noll didn’t know exactly what he was getting himself into when taking over that traveling team his daughter played on.
“I didn’t even know what a soccer ball was. It was a kickball to me before I started with them,” Noll said, laughing. “I knew they were capable of it. And we have a lot of young talent coming up. We have a well-rounded team.”