The 2009 season didn't start off with a bang for Oak Harbor's boys soccer team.
"We were a young team last year when we won the league title and we had a lot of lettermen coming back," fifth-year coach Rob Schimmoeller said. "I thought we were in store for a pretty good year, but we started off a little slow."
The Rockets, who finished 15-4-1 and 8-3-1 (third) in the Sandusky Bay Conference, started three seniors, five juniors and three sophomores this season. They had a 2-2-1 record through five matches but then reeled off eight straight wins.
"The kids kind of thought it would be easier than it was and they wouldn't have to work too hard," Schimmoeller said. "Once we got a few losses, they kind of got it together and started to play extremely well."
Oak Harbor beat Clyde and Rossford in the Division II sectional tournament to advance to the district, where it beat Port Clinton 2-0 in the semifinals. The Rockets lost to Lexington 2-1 in the district finals on Oct. 31 at Fremont Ross.
Oak Harbor junior midfielder Ian Miller scored a first-half goal against Lexington. The Rockets became the first boys soccer team in school history to reach the district finals.
Junior forward Phil Weirich led Oak Harbor in scoring, with 27 goals and 18 assists, to earn SBC Player of the Year honors. Weirich also was named first-team all-district.
"He was our go-to guy," Schimmoeller said. "Whenever we needed a big goal, he came up with it. He had both goals against Port Clinton. He is a three-year varsity starter and captain, and he did what it took to win."
The Rockets also got good production from junior forward/midfielder Tyler Eoff, whose 20 goals and 14 assists earned him first-team All-SBC and all-district honors.
"He was another go-to junior for us and a three-year starter," Schimmoeller said. "He was the one who would distribute to Phil most often. They've been playing soccer together since they were 6 years old, so they know where each other is on the field."
D.J. Reau, a junior stopper, was a first-team all-conference and second-team all-district selection.
"He's the one who initiates our defense as far as going out on the first attack," Schimmoeller said.
Miles Backus, a junior center-defender, was chosen second-team All-SBC and honorable mention all-district. Left midfielder Alex Swope, a junior who had seven goals and five assists, and sophomore left defender Jake Hetrick (3 goals, 4 assists) both got honorable mention All-SBC recognition.
The Rockets graduate seven seniors in midfielders Brandon Wasserman, Jesse Baker and Drew Stone, forwards Alex Reif, Isaac Puckett and Justin Kamann, and defender Dan Sebastiano.
Baker, Wasserman (6 goals, 15 assists) and Stone all made honorable mention All-SBC, and Baker was an honorable mention all-district selection.
Schimmoeller is glad he will have the bulk of his starters returning next season.
"Every year is a new year and you start from scratch," he said. "Hopefully we will build on what we've accomplished the last couple years and take it to the next level."