Entering the season with 14 returning letterwinners, experience was expected to be a strong suit for the Dublin Scioto High School girls soccer team.

Entering the season with 14 returning letterwinners, experience was expected to be a strong suit for the Dublin Scioto High School girls soccer team.

What few outside the program anticipated was that so many new faces would be playing such key roles. In particular, four freshmen have earned spots in the starting lineup.

Coach Chris Adams, however, said he isn't totally shocked that freshmen Anna Buhigas (goalie), Kelsey Diewald (midfield/defense), Sveta Gudenkova (forward) and Elise Jones (midfield/forward) have played so well.

"It's a little bit expected," Adams said. "We expected them to come in and give us a lot of good minutes. They're probably getting a little bit more (playing time) than we thought originally. Right now we're fighting through some injuries, so that's giving them a little more playing time."

Scioto was 7-2-1 overall and 1-2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Liberty last Tuesday. Though on track to exceed last year's 11-4-3 record, the Irish are looking to advance beyond the second round of the Division I district tournament, after falling in that round last year with a 2-1 overtime loss to Westerville Central.

Four players remain out of the lineup, but Adams is hopeful that the increased playing time his freshmen have gotten will have them ready for postseason play.

"(The injuries are) also giving them a lot more experience that they'll have toward the end of the season," he said. "Once we get everyone back and healthy, we think that will be good for us come tournament time."

Forwards Karley Edwards and Emily Jones and midfielders Miranda Gerace and Megan Scoliere are all sidelined with injuries. Adams said they should be available when the district tournament starts later this month.

Edwards and Scoliere were two of the team's top three scorers last season, but other players have stepped up to give the Irish good offensive balance. Scioto was scoring 2.8 goals per game before last Tuesday.

•The boys team seems to have gotten back on track after a stretch of lackluster performances in midseason.

The Irish won their first five games before three tying their next three. They were 7-0-3 overall and 3-0-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Liberty last Tuesday. Coach Chad Snider, whose team finished 7-9-2 last season, said his players might have gotten too caught up in their early-season success.

"We kind of hit a lag there with three ties in a row before kind of kicking it back into gear," he said. "I think what happened was we started listening to all the different talk on the Internet about us and we lost focus. Once we were able to reel the guys back in and go back to what was helping us in the first five games, we got going again."

Snider said he started to see some positive signs in a 2-all tie against St. Charles on Sept. 19. The Irish's play carried over to a 3-1 win over Westerville Central on Sept. 22.

"We sat the guys down and said, 'What got us here, and what are we doing now?' The biggest thing was we had started playing the style of the other team, and we weren't getting the ball to the outside. (Against Central), we had been working on it for the last four or five practices, and it all clicked again."

A big reason the Irish have been able to make such an improvement over last season has been the willingness of players to play a variety of positions. Snider said Nick Gastaldo, in particular, has adapted well since being moved from outside midfield to defense.

"We moved him from outside middie to one of our marking backs, and he made the transition flawlessly," Snider said. "That was absolutely huge. He came into the season ready to go. He's one of the most fit guys we have on the team. That helped, but I mean, he just wanted to play. He didn't care where we put him. If he was on the field, he was happy."

For the first time all season, Scioto had all 18 varsity players available in a 4-0 win over Athens last Saturday.

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Scioto boys and girls soccer teams:

BOYS

*Sept. 15 -- Tied Westerville North at 0. Brandon Shambaugh had seven saves.

Sept. 19 -- Tied St. Charles at 2. Tim Clark and Nick Gastaldo scored.

*Sept. 22 -- Defeated Westerville Central 3-1. Shaun Canada and Matt Shadoan scored. Central also had an own goal.

Last Saturday -- Def. Athens 4-0. Gastaldo, Ryan Gibson, Chris Green and Tony Villa-Cruz scored. Shambaugh had five saves.

*Last Tuesday -- Played Olentangy Liberty

Today -- At Clayton Northmont

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Jerome

Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby

Of note: The Irish were 7-0-3 overall and 3-0-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Sept. 15 -- Lost to Westerville North 4-0

Sept. 17 -- Def. Olentangy Orange 2-0. Casey Barrett and Jen Brooks scored. Anna Buhigas made three saves.

*Sept. 22 -- Tied Westerville Central at 1. Elise Jones scored.

Sept. 24 -- Def. Watkins Memorial 5-0. Jones, Barrett, Buhigas, Sveta Gudenkova and Emily Pissocra scored.

Last Saturday -- Game against Athens canceled

*Last Tuesday -- Played Liberty

Today -- At Hilliard Davidson

*Tuesday -- At Jerome

Of note: The Irish were 7-2-1 overall and 1-2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game