Delaware Hayes High School girls soccer coach Dan Fuchs hopes a well-played loss in the Division I district tournament provides enough momentum for the team to build on for next year.

Delaware Hayes High School girls soccer coach Dan Fuchs hopes a well-played loss in the Division I district tournament provides enough momentum for the team to build on for next year.

The season ended on Oct. 20 when the Pacers lost to host Olentangy 1-0 to finish 4-11-2. That was five days after closing the regular season with a 4-0 loss to the Braves.

"That was definitely a promising sign," Fuchs said. "I was proud and the girls were extremely proud of their effort. Their position was sound. They played with intensity and communicated well. They came together, which is something we searched for during much of the season."

Although unseeded, Olentangy played third-seeded Pickerington North tough in a 1-0 loss in the second round Oct. 27.

More good news for the Pacers is that they will lose only two seniors, defender Courtney Hamilton and midfielder Emily Shellhouse, who was special-mention all-OCC-Capital Division as well as the team's scholar athlete honoree in the league.

"They gave us what they could and helped stabilize a young side," Fuchs said. "It's always tough to watch seniors leave, but we're fortunate that we'll have everyone back except for those two."

The Pacers opened the season 1-4-1 before reaching .500 with victories over Columbus School for Girls (4-1 on Sept. 12), Watkins Memorial (2-0 on Sept. 15) and Buckeye Valley (2-0 on Sept. 17).

But a 6-1 loss to Big Walnut on Sept. 22 began a closing stretch where the Pacers went 0-7-1. The tie was 2-all against Reynoldsburg on Oct. 8.

"Our confidence was shaken and we began to play tentative and reactionary rather than playing with confidence," Fuchs said. "We're improving year-to-year lately, but we need to be more consistent. I think consistency and confidence go hand-in-hand, so we've really got to get these girls playing better and believing they can play and be competitive against teams on our schedule."

Delaware's only other win was 12-0 against Marion Harding on Aug. 27 in the second game of the season. Its other tie was 1-all against Mount Vernon in the OCC-Capital Division opener Sept. 8.

The Pacers finished fifth at 1-4-1 in the league. In addition to the win over Watkins Memorial, the loss to Big Walnut and the tie with Mount Vernon, Delaware lost to Hilliard Bradley 2-1 on Sept. 29, New Albany 6-0 on Oct. 6 and Olentangy Orange 4-0 on Oct. 13.

New Albany won the league title at 5-0-1, followed by Orange at 5-1, Big Walnut at 4-2, Bradley at 3-3, Delaware, Watkins Memorial at 1-5 and Mount Vernon at 0-4-2.

The Pacers were outscored 47-27 overall, including 19-5 in league play. They were shut out seven times overall, but just twice in league play, against New Albany and Orange.

Starting defenders expected to return include juniors Cierra Bills and Grace Naticchia, freshman Taylor McGinnis and sophomore stopper Katie Haller. Junior Taylor Franklin should be back in goal along with back-up freshman Bethany Naegele.

Returning to the midfield should be juniors Anna Burns and Sam Shaw and sophomore Tori Bias. The Pacers also expect junior Sammy Cremer and sophomore Sammy Rupp back at forwards.

Burns led the team in scoring (12 points) and goals (5). She was first-team all-league.

Bias was second-team all-league and Shaw was honorable mention.

Rupp had four goals and three assists and Cremer had three goals and three assists.

"We have more experience coming back, but our learning curve has to be much quicker," Fuchs said. "We can't begin to figure things out after half the season. We allowed three goals a game and that's too many. We need to play better collectively, across the board. Positions are wide open. Nobody has secured a position on a 4-11 team.

"They need to bring the intensity and competitiveness to every game, not just when we play a rival like an Olentangy. That energy needs to be there every game. We've got 17 girls coming back and a large group of them are juniors, so there should be plenty of senior leadership to help us get there."

Part-time starters expected to return are sophomore Kristin Yannacey and freshman Susan Thomson. Yannacey led the team with five assists and also scored a goal. Thomson had four goals and two assists.

Others on the roster are juniors Sabrina Padget, Kelsie Meiser and Monica Tellez, sophomores Olivia Kotanichek, Amanda Smiley and Maddie Stuntz and freshman Emily Mengerink.