The Tallmadge girls soccer team has made a once impeded destination a regular visit in recent years.
The Lady Blue Devils reached Division II district play for the third consecutive year last fall.
Now Tallmadge would like do something else in 2018.
That would be getting a coveted district win.
The Lady Blue Devils finished 7-8-3 overall and 3-3 in the Suburban League American Conference last fall. Tallmadge’s 2017 season ended with a 1-0 loss to Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in a Kent district semifinal contest.
If Tallmadge wants to take the next step, it will have to do without its two franchise players.
The Lady Blue Devils’ top two scoring threats, forwards Sara Johnson and Riley Chochola, who led the team with 14 goals apiece, graduated in the spring. Johnson earned first-team All-Ohio honors as a senior.
Other graduates include center midfielder Adison Onchak, midfielder Danielle Gregory and center defender Kelsye Montgomery.
"We lose a lot of firepower," said fourth-year head coach Steve Davis, who is 23-18-11 at Tallmadge. "It’s going to be a challenge. Our goal is to win half our games."
If 2018 is considered a rebuilding year, the rebuilding project should be temporary.
"We have a bigger incoming freshman class, which is a pleasant surprise," Davis said. "We have some move-in players who are really going to help."
Lady Blue Devils have four returning seniors in the lineup. Co-captains Maria Kisha, a goalkeeper, and Emily Newenhisen, who could play outside midfielder or center midfielder, lead the way.
"Maria is a great shot-stopper who is incredibly brave," Davis said. "She is the epitome of leadership. All of the players respect her.
"Emily is incredibly fit. She is strong. We’re trying to get service from her on the sideline or she could be a playmaker in the middle."
The other two senior returnees are center defender Isabel Chaplin and defensive midfielder Lauryssa Ridenour.
"Isabel got a lot stronger this year," Davis said. "She has improved her speed. She was brand new to the back line last year. She has the experience now to shore things up in the back.
"Lauryssa is strong and smart. She can strike the ball. She’ll provide goal-scoring chances."
Returning juniors are Katie Hussing, who will be team’s lone striker, and midfielders Halle Caruso, Sydney Marcum and Kylee McCracken.
"Katie is a fantastic athlete," Davis said. "She can strike the ball and will be our primary goal scorer. Halle is left-footed. She has the ability to go at people.
"Sydney is an attacking center midfielder. We’re hoping she can score some goals. Kylee has decent skills to go one on one."
Also back is junior Maryn Montgomery, who will be the backup goalie.
Davis has two new players on his roster. They are junior Chloe Heestand (defender) and Zoe Dirker (midfielder and defender).
"Zoe has good speed and strength," Davis said.
The rest of the squad features senior Reshma Subba (defender), a native of Nepal, juniors Malia McKnight (outside defender) and Jaclyn Adams (defender) and freshmen Natalie Onchak (defender and midfielder) and Claire Breiding (center defender).
"Reshma came here from [Akron] North High School," Davis said. "She is very skillful and very smart. Natalie will take most of our corner kicks and some of our free kicks.
"Claire is very strong and has good speed. I expect her to be a four-year letter winner."
Brandon Olivo, a former Stow-Munroe Falls’ assistant coach who played soccer at Cuyahoga Falls, is the team’s varsity assistant coach.
Alan Miller, who is the academy director of coaching at the Canton Akron Soccer Club, is the junior varsity coach. Steve Davis’ father, Larry Davis, is a volunteer assistant.
Davis plans to utilize a 4-5-1 attack in the early stages of the season.
"We’re starting to figure out how to use our wide players, how to break down lines and how to serve outside," he said. "We have kids who can score from the outside.
"Since we lost our whole backline last year, we had to win games 6-5. We solved that problem this year. We have more true defenders back there."
Tallmadge is scheduled to make its 2018 debut against Field Aug. 18 in Mogadore. Play is set to begin at 7 p.m.
Reporter Frank Aceto can be reached at 330-541-9444, firstname.lastname@example.org or @FrankAceto_RPC.