The Hilliard Davidson High School girls soccer team had trouble generating scoring chances, much less finishing them, in its first three games.
But after scoring only two goals while getting out to a 1-1-1 start, the Wildcats erupted for 26 goals while winning their next four contests.
The eruption began with a 5-1 win over Westerville North on Aug. 29. Davidson then beat Central Crossing 13-0 in an OCC-Central Division game Sept. 3 and Darby 2-0 on Sept. 5 before defeating Lexington 6-1 on Sept. 7.
The Wildcats were 5-1-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Westland on Sept. 10.
"We really struggled in our early games to create scoring chances the way we've been creating them the past few years, so we really put an emphasis on putting more pressure on our opponents after we were shut out against Hilliard Bradley (in a scoreless tie Aug. 20) and Dublin Coffman (a 3-0 loss in the league opener Aug. 27)," coach Joe Divida said. "We were an extremely prolific offensive team last year, but we lost some kids and gained some new ones, and it took awhile for our players to get used to each other.
"We finally did a nice job of creating opportunities in the first half of our game against Westerville North and we've continued to become more consistent with each passing game."
Forward Devon McClellan scored two goals against both North and Central Crossing and one against Lexington. Midfielder Erin Duffy had three goals against Central Crossing and a goal against both North and Darby, midfielder Abby Wells had three goals against Central Crossing and one against Lexington and midfielder Cassie Koenig had a goal against both Central Crossing and North.
"Erin Duffy's bringing a lot of energy to our midfield, and (forwards) Lea Edler and Ashley Blake are our dominant personalities up top," Divida said.
Defensively through seven games, the Wildcats had allowed five goals and had posted four shutouts.
With Davidson holding a 1-0 lead against Darby, goalkeeper Rachel Teater made a diving save with 27 minutes left to help preserve the shutout.
"Our goalie was called upon only once (against Darby) but came through for us or (the game) may have ended up being a 1-1 tie," Divida said. "Rachel's extremely good at staying focused and doing her job when called upon."
Darby having trouble maintaining leads
Darby was 1-3-3 overall and 0-1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Canal Winchester on Sept. 10.
But according to coach Sarah Wiechman, the Panthers would have a winning record if not for a few plays, as they held a lead in five of their first seven games.
Darby squandered a one-goal lead in a 3-2 loss to Dublin Jerome in a league game Sept. 3 and in ties against Big Walnut (at 2 on Aug. 22), Westerville North (at 2 in a league game Aug. 27) and Thomas Worthington (at 1 on Aug. 31).
"Our chemistry is good and we're playing well as a team, but we have to learn to finish games when we have the lead," Wiechman said. "We've just made a few mistakes here and there that have made the difference. We need to eliminate those mistakes, especially when we have the lead."
Darby's lone win through seven games came against Delaware, 5-0 on Aug. 29. In that contest, forward Madison Dixon scored two goals, forward Gabby Iosue and midfielders Caitlin McCarthy and Carlee Murry each scored one and goalie Nicole Burke had three saves.
The Panthers play Thursday, Sept. 12, at DeSales before playing host to Upper Arlington on Saturday, Sept. 14.
They lost to both opponents last season, falling to DeSales 1-0 and UA 2-0.
"This is a big week for us because we have a chance to turn our season around," Wiechman said. "We lost to both of those teams last year, so I'm hoping we can pull a win out of each game.
"We controlled possession and passed the ball very well against Delaware, and if we can play that way in the rest of our games, we'll be fine."
Bradley nearing last year's win total
Bradley was 4-3-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Westerville Central on Sept. 10.
The Jaguars, who finished 6-8-4 last season, beat Olentangy 3-0 on Aug. 29, as forward Jenna Fodor had two goals, midfielder Kam Courtright scored one and goalie Coryanna Fraley had seven saves.
Bradley then defeated Westerville South 2-0 in a league game Sept. 3, getting goals from forward Alex Day and defender Katie Fleischman and four saves from Fraley, before losing to Pickerington North 3-0 on Sept. 5.