Since the middle of May, the two-time defending East Central Ohio League champion Marietta High boys' soccer team has been preparing for the upcoming fall campaign.
With most of last season's 11-4-3 squad expected back, the Tigers have high hopes for another successful run on the pitch.
"Been a busy summer for us so far," said MHS boss and 2012 ECOL Coach of the Year Todd Morris. "The boys have been having open fields 3-4 times a week since mid May, and we have started summer conditioning.
Times file photo
Marietta High’s Jacob Holdren (8) will be one of the Tigers on the pitch against Barberton tonight at Marietta College.
"Lots of conditioning and getting as many matches as possible under our belts during the summer as we get ready for 2013."
At 7 p.m. tonight on the Marietta College pitch, the MHS booters are scheduled to scrimmage the John Sabol-coached Barberton Magics. Prior to the boys' friendly, the Jeff Price-coached Lady Tigers will face the Scott Kelley-led Lady Magics at 5:30 p.m.
Like Marietta High, Barberton features a quality boys' soccer program, which has compiled a four-year record of 46-20-6.
Last season, the purple and white Magics were 14-4-0.
After Barberton, Marietta High is slated to compete in the COSA preseason High School Inviational in Columbus July 20-21. Then, the Tigers will be visiting the Alexander Soccer Shootout July 27-28.
The first official day of practice kicks off Aug. 1, and MHS has three scrimmages and an alumni match to play before hosting arch-rival Warren in a season and home opener at 7 p.m. Aug. 22.
"Warren is going to bookend our season," Morris said. "We'll end the regular season at Warren on Oct. 8.
Last year, Marietta was 1-2 versus the Andrew Johnson-led Warriors (14-3-4 overall, 5-1-2 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League), who eliminated the Tigers 2-1 in overtime in a sectional final in Vincent.
MHS of course would like nothing better than to turn the tables on Warren this season.
The Tigers are expected to be led by co-captain Brent Huck, a second-team All-Ohio honoree with nine goals and three assists last fall. A starter since he was a freshman, the Tiger playmaker will be going into his senior season with a career 23 goals and 8 assists.
In the program's storied history, Huck is just one of three Tigers to earn all-state status as a junior.
Last year, Huck suffered a knee injury in Marietta's regular-season finale. But that didn't prevent him from competing on the postseason pitch.
Huck wasn't the only Tiger to garner accolades at the end of the 2012 campaign. Along with the co-captain, keeper Eric Pierce was also a first-team All-District selection.
Pierce finished with 113 saves and was credited with six clean sheets between the pipes.
Marietta's other returnees who made the 2012 all-district team were striker Brennan Uhrig (5 goals, 1 assist), midfielder Jacob Holdren (6 goals, 7 assists), defender Tanner Rake (2 goals, 1 assist), and defender Andrew Roberts.
As a repeat ECOL champion, MHS had six players earn all-league honors - Skylar Miracle, Huck, Pierce, Uhrig, Holdren, and Rake.
In its two seasons in the ECOL, Marietta is unbeaten with an 11-0-3 mark. When this season's seniors were freshmen, they also claimed an SEOAL crown.
"We like what we have returning and feel we can win a fourth straight league title and make a serious run come tournament time," Morris said.
On the girls' side, the versatile Katie Miller and defender Beka Haught, each an All-ECOL and district honoree last season, are expected to lead the MHS girls on the pitch. Miller was the second-leading scorer with six goals on the 2012 squad.
Nora Gulick will probably be between the pipes for the orange and black.
Last year, the Lady Tiger booters posted a 7-8-1 mark.