Bradley girls on path to improvement
Hilliard Davidson High School girls soccer coach Joe Divida is pleased that his team opened its season with a pair of 3-2 victories over what he considers to be quality opponents in Westerville Central and Hilliard Bradley.
At the same time, he knows the Wildcats must do a better job of finishing games after allowing two goals in the last 8 minutes, 46 seconds against Bradley on Aug. 25. They also gave up a goal late in the first half against Central on Aug. 20.
"I'm happy that we're out to a 2-0 start, but I'm equally disappointed that we didn't play better at the end of those games," Divida said. "When our opponents begin to press, our group needs to learn to close out games instead of letting them get back in it. If we don't learn from this and improve, it could cost us winning a game against some of the better teams on our schedule later in the season."
Against Central, Ashley Blake scored two goals, Lauren Bates scored a goal and Leah Edler had an assist.
The Wildcats built a 3-0 lead against Bradley, as Bates headed in two goals off corner kicks, Blake scored and Edler assisted on all three goals.
"We possessed the ball well and played so much better against Westerville Central," Divida said. "We didn't possess it nearly as well against Bradley, but some of that was due to the way Bradley was playing us. Blake and Bates are doing a good job of finishing, and Leah is doing a great job of setting them up."
Divida said his team needs to perform much better defensively when it plays Thursday, Aug. 30, at Westerville North and Saturday, Sept. 1, at DeSales. Last season, Davidson beat North 3-0 and tied DeSales at 1.
"These (non-league) games are just games to get better, and that's going to be our main focus," Divida said. "We're making too many mistakes defensively. The problem is we're not making anyone earn their goals against us because our mistakes are leading to easy goals.
"Offensively, we're fine. If three goals aren't enough to win most games, then we're in trouble."
Bradley girls team on path to improvement
With only four returning starters in his lineup, Bradley girls coach Dan Hoover believes his team showed signs of steady progress while getting out to a 1-1-1 start.
He particularly was pleased with the spirit the Jaguars showed during the last 10 minutes of their game at Davidson. Lauren Bailey scored with 8:46 remaining and Becca Schalip scored with 7.9 seconds left.
"We're a young team and we're still in that break-in period where we're in the process of figuring each other out," Hoover said. "We learned some lessons (against Davidson). Obviously, we need to get better at defending set pieces because that's how (Davidson) scored two of their goals. And we need to learn to play with more confidence when we're down like the way we played the last 10 minutes of the game."
Bradley tied New Albany at 1 in its opener Aug. 18, as Grace Fodor scored. Three days later, the Jaguars defeated Canal Winchester 3-1, as Adriana Johnson, Alex Day and Macie Kill each had a goal.
"Our overall tenacity and effort have been good, but we need to be more patient in building our attack," Hoover said. "We didn't take of our (scoring) opportunities, and if we would have done a better job of finishing them, we could have had different results against New Albany and Davidson."
The Jaguars will face two defending Division I district champions in the next three days, as they play host to Watterson on Thursday, Aug. 30, before traveling to Dublin Coffman on Saturday, Sept. 1.
Last season, Bradley tied Watterson at 1 and lost to Coffman 2-0 in a district final.
"Obviously, we want to be competitive with the top teams in our area, and this week will show us what we're made of," Hoover said. "We need to do a better job of possessing the ball and taking care of our chances to be successful against these teams."