The Delaware Hayes High School girls soccer team overcame a difficult start to finish strong and buoy hopes for the 2013 season.
The Pacers went winless in their first nine games, but found their footing and were 5-3-1 in their final nine to finish 5-9-4 overall.
The season ended with a 10-0 loss to 10th-seeded host Olentangy Liberty in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 18.
Seeded 26th, Delaware beat host Canal Winchester 1-0 in double overtime in the first round Oct. 16.
"We had a really, really rough start. Even though we felt like we were playing pretty well, we weren't getting results," coach Dan Fuchs said. "Then we finally got a win and some confidence and won three in a row and (went 5-2-1) before the tournament loss."
The Pacers were hampered by injuries throughout the season, as they lost senior defender Abbey Frey, sophomore goalkeeper Taryn Sweeney, senior defender and backup goalie Bethany Naegele and senior forward Emily Mengerink. Frey was the team's Most Valuable Player in 2011.
"We lost Sweeney and moved Naegele from the field into goal and she got injured," Fuchs said. "We lost Sweeney a second time and had to use freshman (defender) Helen Thomson in goal. She posted seven shutouts. She stepped up and she's got a good skill set. We had plenty of young girls step up when we made our run, and that's good news for next year."
Delaware loses nine seniors, including Frey, Mengerink, Naegele, Taylor McGinnis (midfielder/defender) and forward Susan Thomson. Thomson was named honorable mention all-league.
"I think McGinnis and (Susan) Thomson were wonderful captains," Fuchs said. "It would've been easy to lick our wounds and quit playing when we were (0-6-3), but they kept things together and the senior class focused on the positives and got things turned around."
Against Canal Winchester, a direct kick by junior forward Aly Smiley in the second overtime was blocked by the Indians' goalkeeper and a rebound shot by Susan Thomson hit the post.
Thomson regained possession, however, and shot again, scoring the decisive goal.
The tournament win was just the Pacers' second since 2005. They defeated Watkins Memorial 4-2 in the first round in 2010 before losing to Dublin Coffman 7-0 in the second round.
Delaware finished 1-4-1 in the OCC-Capital Division to place sixth, behind New Albany (6-0), Olentangy (4-2), Olentangy Orange (3-1-2), Big Walnut (3-3) and Watkins Memorial (2-3-1) and ahead of Mount Vernon (0-6). Franklin Heights did not play a league schedule.
In addition to Smiley and Helen Thomson, expected to return are juniors Hannah Bartfay (midfielder/forward) and Brooke Zinader (defender), sophomores Hannah Joseph (defender), Anna Welch (midfielder), Keera Wilmoth (defender) and Rachel Yates (forward) and freshman Melanie Anderson (defender).
Zinader was first-team all-league, Joseph was second-team all-league and Smiley was special mention all-league
Girls volleyball team overcame slow start
The girls volleyball team also rebounded from a slow start.
The Pacers won only two of their first 10 matches but split their final 12 of the regular season before losing 25-14, 25-22, 25-11 to 10th-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 17 to finish 8-15 overall. Delaware, which was seeded 24th, had a first-round bye.
The Pacers went 6-8 in the OCC-Capital to finish fifth, behind Big Walnut (13-1), Olentangy (12-2), Mount Vernon (11-3) and New Albany (7-7) and ahead of Orange (5-9), Watkins Memorial (2-12) and Franklin Heights (0-14).
"There was a lot of adversity in the middle of the season and we could've cashed it in, but we didn't," coach Josh Lee said. "The seniors spoke out at the crossroads and the girls chose to unite and fight our opponents rather than fight each other and watch the season fizzle out.
"We had some trust issues and conflicts that eventually drew us together and (the girls) started to play together as a team. The team concept won out. Hopefully, we can begin next season carrying things over from the way these girls fought opponents to the end this season."
The Pacers lose five seniors, including outside hitters Candice Rathburn and Sarah Scott. Rathburn was named first-team all-league and Scott was special mention all-league.
Expected to return are juniors Katie Ellis, Jen Foreman, Ivy Hankins, Krysta Iwanek and Kaitlyn Woerner, sophomores Hannah Cook and Mariah Swisher and freshman Leah Howser. Hankins and Woerner are setters.
Foreman, the team's libero, was honorable mention all-league.
Football team falls to Braves in finale
The football season lost to visiting Olentangy 42-10 on Oct. 26 to finish 3-7 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Capital.
Olentangy, which improved to 9-1, scored on its first six possessions and held a 42-0 lead in the third quarter. The Braves led 35-0 at halftime, as quarterback Andrew Horstman scored on runs of 10, 17, 33 and 6 yards in the first half.
The Pacers scored on a 25-yard field goal by Anthony Sanfillipo in the third quarter and a 10-yard run by quarterback Alex Rafeld in the fourth quarter.
Olentangy played Dublin Scioto in the first round of the Division I, Region 3 playoffs on Nov. 3.
Delaware tied Watkins Memorial for sixth in the OCC-Capital, behind New Albany (7-0), Olentangy (6-1), Big Walnut (4-3), Orange (4-3) and Mount Vernon (3-4) and ahead of Watkins Memorial (2-5) and Franklin Heights (0-7).