Dublin Jerome High School boys soccer coach Nate Maust realizes that playing against some of toughest competition in the state will help his team prepare for the Division I district tournament.

Dublin Jerome High School boys soccer coach Nate Maust realizes that playing against some of toughest competition in the state will help his team prepare for the Division I district tournament.

The Celtics were 6-4 overall before playing Marysville last Tuesday, but three of the losses came against three of the top teams in the state.

All three losses were away games, as they fell to reigning Division I state champion Cleveland St. Ignatius 3-1 on Sept. 12, Sylvania Northview 2-1 on Sept. 19 and Gahanna 3-0 on Sept. 24.

Gahanna was ranked first in area coaches poll last Monday, followed by Olentangy Orange, Jerome and Scioto.

St. Ignatius was ranked first in the state poll, with Gahanna second. Sylvania Northview was in the top five earlier this season.

The Celtics' other loss was to Orange 4-0 on Sept. 3.

"It's nice to see that we've been able to win our OCC matches," Maust said. "In our four losses, three of them, in my opinion, have come against the top three teams in the state. We'd had some moments where we played good against Gahanna, good against St. Ignatius, but this team has a long way to go, which is fine. Hopefully these are things that will shape us and sharpen us for the tournament.

"We're still young. We still have some inexperience and we still have some things to learn, but I think we're going to take the next half of the season and really dig our heels in a little bit more."

Jerome remained the team to beat in the OCC-Cardinal Division, as it was 4-0 before playing Marysville.

Following the Celtics in the division was Scioto, which was 2-0-2 before playing Olentangy Liberty last Tuesday.

Jerome will play at Scioto on Tuesday. Jerome is the defending OCC-Cardinal champion after going through the league unbeaten last season.

"Our goal as always is to compete in the league and win the league," Maust said. "That's a start."

The Celtics will play 3 p.m. Saturday at Crew Stadium against Hilliard Davidson. The Wildcats won the Division I state title in 2007.

"The kids are looking forward to that," Maust said. "It should be a nice Saturday."

The Celtics played their first game at Crew Stadium last year, beating Westerville North 8-0 in the opener.

•The girls team also was in contention to win a league championship.

The Celtics were 6-2-3 overall and 2-1-1 in the league before playing Marysville last Tuesday.

Jerome, which will visit Sylvania Northview on Saturday, shared the same league record as Scioto, Westerville Central and Westerville North before last Tuesday.

The Celtics will play host to Scioto on Tuesday and visit Westerville Central on Oct. 13.

Jerome and North battled to a scoreless tie Sept. 1.

The Celtics are in the hunt for their fourth consecutive OCC title thanks to a defense which has allowed just seven goals. They had posted four consecutive shutouts and five wins in a row.

"We are becoming and still focusing on being strong defensively," coach Annie Murphy Gage said. "We have been playing a variety of shapes as well as a variety of personnel in order to compete at our best."

Murphy Gage is hoping her team's challenging regular season schedule will help it prepare for the postseason.

"I would like to see our mentality improve," she said. "We tend to play to our level of competition. Right now we have been able to squeak by teams, but that won't be the case come tournament time."

At a glance

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

BOYS

*Sept. 15 -- Defeated Westerville South 7-0 Sept. 17 -- Def. Dublin Coffman 3-2 Sept. 19 -- Lost to Sylvania Northview 2-1 *Sept. 22 -- Def. Olentangy 2-1. Chris Louwers and Alex Flexer scored. Sept. 24 -- Lost to Gahanna 3-0 *Last Tuesday -- Played Marysville Saturday -- At Crew Stadium vs. Hilliard Davidson *Tuesday -- At Dublin Scioto

Of note: The Celtics were 6-4 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Sept. 15 -- Def. Westerville South 5-1 Sept. 17 -- Def. Dublin Coffman 1-0 *Sept. 22 -- Def. Olentangy 2-0 Sept. 24 -- Def. Gahanna 1-0 Last Saturday -- Def. Springboro 1-0. Carli Pimm scored. *Last Tuesday -- Played Marysville Saturday -- At Sylvania Northview Tuesday -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto

Of note: The Celtics were 6-2-3 overall and 2-1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game