The Ryle Raiders girls soccer team has held its own a good part of the time in the current 33rd District and 9th Region formats that came together in 2012.
Ryle has put together double-digit win seasons seven of those first eight years including a 17-4-1 mark in 2014. The Raiders have won five 33rd District championships and made it to the 9th Region semifinals three times since the start of 2012.
The Raiders have not had a double-digit win season in the last three years. But after an injury-filled regular and preseason in 2022, Ryle surprised people in the postseason winning the 33rd District championship as the fourth seed before losing to St. Henry in the region quarterfinals to finish 6-12-2.
After the season, Brian Runyon stepped down after two years. Ryle just hired Kyle Kosco to take over after he completed one season as an assistant on the Thomas More University men’s soccer team. The Saints finished 10-6-2 this past season, losing at Bethel University (Tennessee) in the Mid-South Conference Tournament quarterfinals.
“His resume is impressive with his time with club,” said Mike Woolf, Ryle Director of Athletics. “With his vision for the program, we felt he was the right guy for the job. We think he’s that coach that can move our program to that next level for sure.”
Kosco comes to Ryle with two years of varsity head coaching experience. Kosco led the Princeton (Ohio) girls soccer team in 2017 and the Scott boys in 2021. The Eagles finished 10-8-1 that season for their second 10-win season in three years, tying the most number of wins since they finished state runner-up in 2014. Kosco will still be a high school girls staff coach at Cincinnati United Premier.
“It’s an awesome opportunity with the resources that are already in place and bringing my experience from the different levels that I’ve coached at from club to high school to the college level I think will help in the Ryle program,” Kosco said. “(I loved) the opportunity to take a large, overall successful program to another level and compete for championships long term.”
Kosco has been involved with coaching ever since the age of 20. He served as a volunteer assistant for the University of Cincinnati women’s team.
He started all four years at Austintown Fitch then played two years at NCAA Division III Medaille University in Buffalo, New York, primarily at the center mid and center back midfielder positions. Medaille features one of the winningest coaches in college soccer Dan Krzyzanowicz. Austintown Fitch entered the postseason 16-0-0 his senior year. Kosco has been a part of eight state championship teams as a coach and player in the club level including his time playing for the Everest Soccer Club out of Akron, Ohio.
“Whether it’s boys or girls, it comes down to having relationships with players and being able to talk in an open environment, be able to accept feedback and work toward common goals on both sides,” Kosco said. “I have to be able to accept feedback from players just as much as I need them to accept feedback from me. That’s the only way we accomplish the things that we want to accomplish.”
Kosco is looking forward to the challenges of playing in the rugged 33rd District against Cooper, Conner and Boone County. Ryle beat top-seeded Cooper in the semifinals last year before beating Conner on kicks from the mark.
“I think the district is tough. But I think that’s what every athlete wants. I don’t think they want to just have an easy way through the district,” Kosco said. “Within 24 hours of being announced, over 40 emails were sent to me personally from the players with how excited they are to get started and how bad they want to do better than the year before, win another district championship and try to make a bigger run than that.”
Ryle just released its 2023 schedule and a return to Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the Smoky Mountain Cup is on the schedule. The Raiders finished 2-1 there last season.
“They’ve been to it the last couple years. They’ve won it two years in a row,” Kosco said. “As a new coach, that’s not something that just makes sense to scrap and do my own way. It’s working. They’re getting a lot out of it and getting to compete against teams from outside northern Kentucky and in most cases, outside of the state.”
The Raiders graduate eight seniors from this past season. Freshman goalkeeper Maleah Lehmkuhl returns after recording 172 saves in 19 games last year. Junior Gracie Carrigan also returns after leading the Raiders with nine goals and tied for a team-high four assists.
Kosco is not set on a specific formation. He wants to use the preseason including the games at the Bluegrass Tournament to determine what best fits the team.
Ryle is one of many teams in the 9th Region trying to tear down the region wall. Either the Notre Dame Pandas or Highlands Bluebirds have won all 11 region championships in the current format. The Bluebirds have won four of the last five crowns, finishing state runner-up in 2018 and 2019. Notre Dame won its fourth state championship in 2021.
“I know a decent amount of coaches in the region and I’m looking forward to working with them and coaching against them,” Kosco said. “I’m looking forward to Ryle being a part of the conversation to competing for championships long-term.”
Kosco lives in northern Kentucky with his wife and two sons. His daytime job is the Chief Operating Officer at Legion Logistics.