The Hilliard Bradley High School girls soccer team finished 6-8-4 overall this season after going 13-4-2 in 2011, but coach Dan Hoover attributes the downturn to a more challenging schedule.
"If we played a normal schedule, we would have had a much better record," Hoover said. "But we ended up playing nine of the top 10 ranked teams in our district. We were competitive in all of those games, but we were just a goal or two away from doing some special things, and we just couldn't get over the hump and into a nice flow throughout most of the season."
The Jaguars, who were 1-5-3 through nine games, won three consecutive games before concluding the season with a 2-1 loss to 13th-seeded Olentangy Orange 2-1 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23.
Bradley defeated Darby 1-0 in its OCC-Cardinal Division finale on Oct. 9 and closed out the regular season with a 2-1 win over DeSales on Oct.11. Then, after having a first-round bye, the 21st-seeded Jaguars beat seventh-seeded Dublin Scioto 2-1 in double overtime in the second round of the district tournament before falling to Orange.
DeSales won the Division II state title last season and finished as state runner-up this year, losing to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 5-0 in the final Nov. 9.
Bradley also had a strong showing against Pickerington North, as the teams played to a scoreless tie Sept. 6. North was seeded second in the Division I district tournament and reached a state semifinal before losing to Mason 1-0 on Nov. 6 to finish 19-1-2.
Against Scioto, sophomore forward Alex Day scored 10 minutes into the game to put Bradley up 1-0 and freshman forward Macie Kill scored in the second 15-minute overtime.
"Tying Pickerington North was a highlight because they were one of the best teams in the state," Hoover said. "It was nice to put together a three-game winning streak late in the season, and to see that our schedule prepared us for our upset win at Dublin Scioto."
Bradley went 2-3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal to place fifth, behind Dublin Jerome (7-0), Westerville Central (5-1-1), Scioto (4-1-2) and Worthington Kilbourne (3-4) and ahead of Westerville North (2-4-1), Westerville South (1-4-2) and Darby (0-7).
The Jaguars lose four senior starters in forwards Lauren Bailey and Taylor Gray, defender Amanda Fodor and midfielder Jess Rains.
Fodor was named first-team all-district and all-league and Bailey was special mention all-league.
Expected to return are Day, Kill, juniors Taylor Baith (defender), Katie Fleischman (midfielder), Jenna Fodor (midfielder), Shelby Halworth (goalkeeper), Faith Payton (defender) and Emily Wright (defender), sophomores Adriana Johnson (midfielder) and Becca Schalip (midfielder) and freshman Kennedy Elliott (defender).
Day and Schalip each scored four goals. Fodor was second-team all-league and Schalip was honorable mention.
"We are a young team and a lot of girls got to start or play a lot of minutes for us, so that should benefit us in the future," Hoover said.
Panthers coach says record is deceptive
Darby finished 4-12-2 overall after losing to Grove City 2-1 in overtime in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 18.
The Panthers won three of their first four regular-season games, including a 1-0 win over Delaware on Aug. 30. But they scored just three goals while going 0-10-2 in their final 12 regular-season contests before opening the district tournament with a 2-1 overtime win over 22nd-seeded Reynoldsburg on Oct. 16.
Seeded 25th, Darby trailed Reynoldsburg 1-0 early in the second half before senior forward Emily Church tied the score with 10 minutes remaining and scored again in overtime.
Senior goalkeeper Rachael Harricharran had three saves against the Raiders.
"From the outside looking in, people assumed that we weren't that good because of our record," coach Sarah Wiechmann said. "But if you came to our games, you could see that we were a good team, but we had some trouble scoring in the second half of the season. It was difficult because we had a lot of injuries and we had a different starting lineup every game."
Darby loses five senior starters in Church, Harricharran and defenders Becca Heicher, Ashleigh Riddle and Tess Walters.
Harricharran was second-team all-league and Riddle was honorable mention all-league.
Expected back are juniors Claire Craddick (forward), Helen Erb (forward), Maggie Kuhns (forward), Amber Lilly (defender) and Abby Spangler (defender), sophomores Erica Custer (defender), Madison Dixon (midfielder) and Abbey Spangler (defender) and freshmen Riley Demjan (midfielder), Maddi Wallace (midfielder) and Ellie Weber (defender).
"We have quite a few letterwinners coming back," Wiechmann said. "A lot of our younger girls played a lot of minutes and hopefully that will help us next year."