For the second consecutive year the Medina Bees lost in the Ohio 1 State Semi-Finals, falling to the eventual champion, Hudson Explorers, 8-7. This year the Bees are ready to take the next step and advance to the State Finals despite losing two All-Americans, midfielder Nate Blue and attackman Alex Schell, to graduation.
According to Bees’ Head Coach Pat O’Brien, the loss to Hudson impacted his veteran team. “The first thing the loss has done is put a chip on the kids’ shoulders and pushed them to work beyond what they have ever worked before,” said O’Brien. “The kids have been working like demons in the weight room and are in much better shape than they were at this time last year.”
Coach O’Brien hopes the team’s strong offseason conditioning will pay off when the team faces perennial powerhouse Olentangy-Liberty to start off the season. The Bees’ matchup against Olentangy-Liberty is just the beginning of a tough schedule though. Along with Olentangy-Liberty, the Bees also face Worthington-Kilbourne, Upper Arlington and Hudson, whose combined record for the 2011 season was 54-9.
Coach O’Brien believes the tough schedule will help his team prepare for the playoffs. “Some teams like to fill their schedule with lesser opponents, but we don’t because playing those teams will only make us better.”
The Bees return a core of upperclassmen but are also benefiting from a strong youth program. “We have an incredible youth program,” said O’Brien. “Here’s the thing, if you’re ready to play you’re going to play.”
The team also has a strong freshmen class but it might be tough for them to see playing time right away. “It is tough for freshmen to walk in and play right away,” said O’Brien. “But this happens on every team when you have so many kids who have been playing for so long.”
It will be tough for the freshmen to break into the team’s starting attack unit, which features three upperclassmen. Senior attackman Hogan Harris was the team’s leading goal scorer last year with 63 goals. Harris is joined by senior attackman Jared Ross who led the team in groundballs and was also second on the team in assists. The duo will be joined by junior lefty Joey Kren.
Coming into the season the Bees feature a plethora of talent at midfield. Second leading scorer and senior Josh Keuhn is returning along with Alec Sulesky. According to Coach O’Brien, Sulesky is a tall kid who has an incredible shot. Junior Jack Wesner will start at faceoff wing for the Bees but also plays great offense and defense.
Senior midfielder James Dahlheimer returns to Medina after spending his junior season at Western Reserve Acadamy. Dahlheimer is a commit to the University of Virginia and will begin playing there next season.
Senior defensive midfielder Andrew Dorman will help fortify the defense along with seniors Dan Flake, Alex Harris and Cole Giordan. Flake is a commit to OSU and was Second Team All-State last year.
The goalie net is minded by junior goalie Andrew Harris. Harris began starting in goal for the Bees during his freshman year and has started in every game since. “Andrew is a tough kid, in 2010 he broke his thumb two days before the quarterfinal and still started,” said O’Brien. “His toughness is indicative of the type of team we have. We don’t like how last year ended and we’re ready to go out there and play as hard as we can.”