The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer team entered this season with some questions about its young defense.

The Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer team entered this season with some questions about its young defense.

The Lions were expected to pack a little more offensive punch this year and that would allow the defense time to grow and mature.

As it turns out, the offense has done its part by scoring more goals than a year ago. The defense, though, has nearly matched last year's mark when it allowed a program-low four goals en route to a 22-0-1 record and the Division I state championship.

"I am really pleased that we have been focused and have been able to prove some people wrong," said senior Jacob Rice, who replaced Ryan Grimme in goal this season. "There were a lot of people questioning the defense and we knew we had to work to get better. So we used that for motivation, got the right mindset and have grown together."

Entering a district semifinal against Marysville last Wednesday, Gahanna had outscored its opponents 81-5 and was 16-0-1. Through 17 games last season, the Lions had outscored their foes 66-3.

Three of the goals allowed by Gahanna this year have been off set pieces. So it's not as though Rice has been busy in net.

"It does tend to get boring, but then that makes me happy," Rice said. "When I'm bored, it means everyone else is doing their job. So when it becomes a little dull back there, you have to try to stay mentally sharp. You look and anticipate what could happen two or three passes ahead of the ball.

"You can't afford to lose focus. We could be dominating for the entire game, but not finishing. Then (an opponent) could catch you on a counter and you could lose just like that. You always have to stay sharp on defense."

Senior center back Trevor Gates has played strong in front of Rice. Gates, one of four returning starters, scored one of the Lions' penalty kicks in the 4-3 shootout portion in last year's state championship win over Cleveland St. Ignatius after the teams played scoreless soccer for 110 minutes.

"Trevor has been super in front of me," Rice said. "He communicates well with me and with our outside backs T.J. (Twigg) and Alex (Crognale). There are times when he has the better angles and he lets those outside guys know what to do before I can make a call."

The winner last Wednesday will play Dublin Scioto or Rey-noldsburg in a district final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Westerville Central.

The Lions beat Reynoldsburg 9-0 in an OCC-Ohio Division game on Oct. 2, and beat Scioto 7-0 in a scrimmage.

"The scrimmage against Scioto was a long time ago and they are a much different team now," coach Dwayne Marshall said. "They lost a lot of seniors from last year and it took them a while to get going this year, but they're a good team."

Scioto advanced with a 3-2 upset over sixth-seeded Hilliard Darby last Saturday. Reynoldsburg needed overtime to beat Delaware Hayes 2-1 in the first round, but then upset host Mount Vernon 2-0 last Saturday.

Scioto was 5-9-3 before last Wednesday, but had won three of its previous four games. The Raiders were 8-6-3.

The district champion will play in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Dublin Coffman against Pickerington North, Dublin Jerome, New Albany or Westerville Central. The regional final is at 3 p.m. Nov. 6 at Scioto.

The Lions beat Central 5-0 on Sept. 16, beat North 4-1 on Sept. 21 and downed Jerome 2-1 on Sept. 23. They did not play New Albany.

Gahanna, the top seed in the district, had a first-round bye before whipping Walnut Ridge 13-0 in the second round last Saturday.

•The girls team had some anxious moments, but advanced to a district semifinal last Tuesday against third-seeded Upper Arlington.

The winner plays sixth-seeded Olentangy Liberty or Dublin Jerome in a district final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Grandview. The Lions lost to the Patriots 3-1 on Aug. 26 in the second game of the year and played the Celtics to a 1-all tie on Sept. 23.

Liberty was 11-2-4 before last Tuesday and Jerome was 10-5-3.

The district winner plays in regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Upper Arlington against Dublin Coffman, Thomas Worthington, Hilliard Davidson or Watterson.

The Lions lost to Davidson 3-2 on Sept. 11, but have not played the Shamrocks, Cardinals or Eagles. Before last Tuesday, Coffman was 11-2-4, Thomas was 8-5-5, Davidson was 12-3-2 and Watterson was 10-4-4.

Gahanna took an 11-5-1 record into the district semifinal after beating Mount Vernon 6-0 in the first round on Oct. 19 and topping Worthington Kilbourne 1-0 (3-2 in shootout) on Oct. 21.

In the shootout, Kilbourne missed its first penalty kick and Maggie Mayo converted for the Lions. Kari Weinland gave the Lions a 2-0 cushion through two rounds, and Ashley Gogolin made it 3-1 after three. The Lions led 3-2 entering the fifth and final round.

Gahanna goalkeeper Shae Ferguson dived to her left and stopped the ball to give the Lions the win.

"I was probably as happy as Shae was that she made that save," said senior midfielder Courtney Tanner, who was scheduled to take the Lions' final kick. "I was so nervous I can't even explain it. I've never been in a shootout, well not in my four years with the high school team anyway. We all ran out to Shae to celebrate and we had a number of our fans rush the field, too. It was a great moment for us."

Against Mount Vernon, Gogolin and Mayo both scored two goals. Tanner and Mary Munz also scored.

At a glance

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

BOYS

Last Saturday — Defeated Walnut Ridge 13-0 in second round of Division I district tournament. Wil Trapp scored three goals. Ben Crognale and Chris Davis both scored twice. Also scoring were Austin Matney, Jeremy Fernandez, Tyler Wollum, Andrew Leithart, Martin Kerscher and Adam Schwall.

Last Wednesday — Played Marysville in district semifinal. The winner will play Dublin Scioto or Reynoldsburg in a district final at 7 p.m. Saturday at Westerville Central. That winner plays in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Dublin Coffman. Potential opponents include Pickerington North, Dublin Jerome, New Albany and Westerville Central. The regional final is 3 p.m. Nov. 6 at Dublin Scioto.

Of note: The Lions were 16-0-1 overall before last Wednesday.

GIRLS

Oct. 19 — Def. Mount Vernon 6-0 in first round of Division I district tournament

Oct. 21 — Def. Worthington Kilbourne 1-0 in shootout in second round. The Lions won on penalty kicks 3-2 after playing the Wolves to a scoreless tie in regulation and two overtimes.

Last Tuesday — Played third-seeded Upper Arlington in district semifinal. Winner plays sixth-seeded Olentangy Liberty or Dublin Jerome in district final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Grandview. That winner plays in regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Upper Arlington. Potential opponents include Dublin Coffman, Thomas Worthington, Hilliard Davidson and Watterson.

Of note: The Lions were 12-5-1 overall before last Tuesday.