Even though his team lost just one starter from a year ago to graduation and entered the season with high expectations, Dublin Scioto High School boys soccer coach Chad Snider admits that he didn't anticipate his team's start.

Even though his team lost just one starter from a year ago to graduation and entered the season with high expectations, Dublin Scioto High School boys soccer coach Chad Snider admits that he didn't anticipate his team's start.

The Irish were 11-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 27. Scioto, which finished 5-8-3 overall last season, was ranked 10th in the Division I state poll last week and is second in the ThisWeek Super 7 poll behind Gahanna.

"I knew the potential was there, but to be able to follow through is a little surprising," Snider said.

Asked to rank the teams in the OCC-Cardinal, Snider said he considers Dublin Jerome and Olentangy Liberty to be the teams to beat. First place in the league was on the line when Scioto played Liberty, as the Patriots also were 4-0 in the league.

Scioto's lone starter from a year ago lost to graduation was goalkeeper Steven Richardson. His successor is junior Josh Ashwill, who is in his first season in the program.

The Irish allowed just seven goals through 11 games with six shutouts.

Ashwill also plays on the school's boys basketball and boys volleyball teams and joined the soccer team at the urging of his new teammates.

"Hopefully, we have a lot more games to go," Ashwill said. "We're only halfway done. It would a lot of fun to win the division, especially in my first year playing."

Scioto's defense has been impressive despite playing without senior defender/midfielder Nick Gorelov, who dislocated his right elbow in a 2-1 win over Westerville South on Sept. 6.

Snider hopes Gorelov, a captain, will return to the lineup before the district tournament, which begins Oct. 19. The tournament draw will be held Oct. 9 at Hilliard Davidson.

"I'm really impressed with the team's character because we've run into so many different aspects with different injuries, moving a guy from one position to another, and they've gone with the flow and have made the best of it," Snider said.

Offensively, senior forward Kevin McMahon has led a balanced attack with 10 goals through 11 games.

"I knew we had a lot of potential," McMahon said. "We have a couple tough matches coming up that will be interesting. We have a lot of chemistry considering that we've come up from j.v. and then made it to varsity. We get better every day. We know how everyone plays."

Senior captain Ryan Gibson, who scored three goals in a 5-3 win over Grove City on Sept. 22, had eight goals through 11 games and senior midfielder Chiek Diawara had seven.

"I keep telling the guys that they are making it hard on me because I have a team of starters," Snider said. "We've had so many different guys start. They're all used to it and when I throw a sub in it's like throwing another starter out there. We don't lose too much."

The Irish face another obstacle in their pursuit of their first league title since 2003 when they play host to Dublin Jerome on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The Celtics were 3-1 in the league before playing Marysville on Sept. 27.

"Scioto will be a good game," Jerome coach Nate Maust said. "They are a confident team that has had success. We will need to play consistent and not lose mental focus. I don't know that Scioto has been tested quite like we have yet, but they will be ready for the challenge. They have proven that they are a top team this year."

Jerome defeated the Irish 5-3 last season and leads the series 3-0-1. The teams tied at 1 in 2009.

"The Jerome game will really show us where we are and how far we've come," Snider said. "It would be great to be able to beat them."

•The Scioto girls team also is in contention for the OCC-Cardinal title.

The Irish were 8-1-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 27.

"We are happy with our record but we're still working on better play on the field and taking advantage of the chances we get," coach Chris Adams said. "We feel that we must finish better on those opportunities."

Scioto will visit Jerome on Tuesday, Oct. 4. The Celtics, who were ranked 10th in the Division I state poll last week, were first in the league at 4-0 before playing Marysville on Sept. 27.

"We will need to play smart defensively and make sure we mark their players well and adjust to their play," Adams said. "Jerome has a terrific team and is well coached and they will be ready to play and we will need to match their intensity. We will need to take advantage of set pieces and be aggressive around the goal and get numbers forward in transition."

Last season, Scioto defeated the Celtics 1-0 on its way to winning the OCC-Cardinal title with a 6-0-1 record.