The Delaware Hayes High School girls soccer team has struggled this season.
That doesn't mean the Pacers haven't played well in spurts, coach Dan Fuchs said. Last season, they allowed four or more goals six times, representing slightly more than one-third of their games as they finished 4-12-1.
Delaware allowed more than three goals just once through six games this season, a 4-3 loss to Worthington Kilbourne in its opener Aug. 23. The Wolves won five of their first six games this season.
"This year more than any other I am getting compliments from officials, opposing coaches and parents from the other teams that our team is tough to beat," said Fuchs, whose team was 0-6-1 before playing Hartley on Sept. 15. "They play hard and are well-organized and tough to score on. The team feels they have been doing the right things. We have been unlucky not to get a (win), but good teams make their own luck. We have not done that yet."
Through seven games, the Pacers had lost three games by one goal, including 1-0 decisions against Watkins Memorial on Aug. 28 and Hilliard Darby on Aug. 30. Watkins Memorial was the OCC-Capital Division runner-up last season and Darby won the OCC-Central.
"We can not give up goals if we are not scoring many," Fuchs said. "We need to increase our goal production and decrease our goals allowed. There has not been one specific rough spot. We are having a hard time playing well for an extended period of time."
Delaware also lost to Big Walnut (3-1 on Sept. 4) and Jonathan Alder (3-1 on Sept. 8) and tied Marysville at 2 on Sept. 6.
"The (tie) with Marysville was our best and most gutsy performance of the year," Fuchs said. "Everyone played well and contributed. Last year, we lost to them 10-0. Tying them was good for our confidence. They are a good team."
Against Marysville, junior forward Aly Smiley and sophomore forward Rachel Yates scored and senior goalkeeper Bethany Naegele had 11 saves. Junior midfielder Hannah Bartfay scored and sophomore goalie Taryn Sweeney had 11 saves against Big Walnut and Smiley scored and Sweeney had 10 saves against Jonathan Alder.
"(Junior defender) Brooke Zinader has been the most consistent for us," Fuchs said. "We have been getting quality contributions from Bethany Naegele and Taryn Sweeney, also. Aly Smiley leads our team in scoring (through six games) with three goals and an assist. Two goals were off penalty kicks that (senior defender) Kaci McCoy drew."
Still, the Pacers have not produced enough goals.
"We have not been creating enough quality scoring chances," Fuchs said. "We are breaking down in the attacking third with our touch or lack of mobility off the ball.
"Defensively, we have been sound, but if the other team does not score, you cannot lose. We need to limit the other teams' chances by keeping possession in the attacking third. That will help with all aspects of our game and get us some well-deserved wins."
The start to the season has been frustrating for the players, Fuchs said.
"The team unity is good. They are highly motivated but a little discouraged with not getting a good result," he said. "Our leadership has been tremendous. Captains Susan Thomson and Taylor McGinnis have done a good job of focusing on the positive things we are doing. There has been leadership from many different players, also."
Football coach wants players 'to be hitters'
The football team plays host to Big Walnut in an OCC-Capital game on Friday, Sept. 21.
The Pacers lost to Big Walnut 42-13 last season and are just 1-14 against the Golden Eagles since 1997. Delaware's only win during that span came in 2009, when the Pacers won 17-10 at home.
The Pacers, who played Watkins Memorial in their OCC-Capital opener Sept. 14, lost to Dublin Jerome 49-14 on Sept. 7 to fall to 1-2.
"I want players that want to be hitters," second-year coach Zebb Schroeder said. "It's a hit or be-hit game and, quite frankly, I'm disappointed in our physicality. We had a great, great physical camp. But for some reason, there's a disconnect between practices and games.
"We have all the measurables -- height, weight, strength and speed -- to be a good team. The million dollar question is: Why isn't that translating into football performance? We're going to find the people who want to hit, and that could mean a change in personnel if that's what it takes."
Big Walnut was 2-1 after beating Cleveland Collinwood 50-6 on Sept. 7. The Golden Eagles opened league play against Olentangy on Sept. 14.
"If we don't get more physical, that will be a long game because Big Walnut will have all 11 on offense, defense and special teams out there hitting you in the mouth," Schroeder said. "They're very well-coached and disciplined. They make few mistakes and they capitalize when you make a mistake. Every yard you get on offense will be earned. They just have a tremendous coaching staff and tough kids."
Against Jerome, Delaware trailed 16-7 midway through the second quarter but had an opportunity to pull closer before halftime. However, the Pacers fumbled and Jerome took advantage of the turnover, as running back Donovan Wilson scored on a 6-yard run to extend the Celtics' lead to 22-7.
"Our goal was to get up on them and change their game plan to make them throw the ball," Schroeder said. "We had some chances, but penalties and the turnover hurt us. Because they were up two scores, they just ran it right at us in the second half. They had the best player on the field (Wilson) and they wore us down in the second half. They ran it at will and it just snowballed after we went toe-to-toe in the first half."
Wilson, who has verbally committed to Georgia Tech, rushed for 255 yards and six touchdowns on 33 carries. The Celtics scored 20 points in the third quarter to open a 42-7 lead.
The Pacers were limited to 35 yards rushing on 28 carries. Delaware scored on a 1-yard run by running back Taylor Adair and an 18-yard pass from quarterback Alex Rafeld to wide receiver Alex Hohe.
"We made some plays in the passing game, but we really didn't have anyone who played well," Schroeder said. "What it comes down to is blocking and tackling. We need to get lined up properly on both sides of the ball and then block and tackle. We need to be more physical, so we're looking for guys who always have their motor running and ready to hit consistently."
Through three games, Rafeld was 51-for-88 passing for 673 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. Running back Jante Wright (21 catches for 207 yards and three touchdowns), wide receiver Caleb Howell (19 catches for 357 yards and one touchdown) and Adair (6 catches for 38 yards) were the leading receivers.
Wright was leading the Pacers in rushing with 137 yards and five touchdowns on 54 carries.