Hilliard Darby High School girls soccer coach Sarah Wiechman believes that her team's record is deceiving.
The Panthers were 2-8-3 overall and 1-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Westerville Central on Oct. 1, but they were outscored only 24-19 through 13 games and five of their losses were by one goal.
"A lot of people may look at our record and think that we are having a bad season, but we've been really competitive in most of our games this year," said Wiechman, whose team finished 4-12-2 overall and 0-7 in the OCC-Cardinal last year. "We're improving, and we've been a lot more competitive than we were last year, even though our record doesn't necessarily show it.
"We're not struggling. We just haven't found a way to win many games yet."
Darby beat Dublin Scioto 3-0 in a league Sept. 24 to snap a six-game losing streak and end a seven-game winless streak.
Forward Helen Erb and midfielders Maggie Kuhns and Carlee Murry each scored and goalkeeper Nicole Burke had four saves.
"We were the better team, but this was an important win for our girls' confidence," Wiechman said. "We played really well together and were able to finish our opportunities and keep their chances down while getting a shutout."
Darby absorbed its most lopsided loss of the season two days later, however, falling to Marysville 6-2.
Forwards Madison Dixon and Gabby Iosue scored and Burke had four saves.
"We didn't stay with our marks and our defense broke down a few times," Wiechman said. "Our center (defender) Ellie Weber has been our best player and we have one of the strongest backlines in central Ohio, but our defense as a whole needs work because we've had too many breakdowns."
Dixon had a team-high seven goals through 13 games. Wiechman also has been pleased with the play of Iosue and midfielder Maddi Wallace.
"It can be hard to see positives when you're losing, but our team chemistry is good and the girls have been working hard and improving as a team," Wiechman said. "Madison's been scoring well and Maddi's good at distributing the ball and creating opportunities. Gabby's creating a lot of options for us, too."
The Panthers will wrap up their regular season with a league game Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Bradley. They lost to the Jaguars 1-0 last year.
"The girls always get real excited to play Bradley and, if we can beat them, it will be huge for us," Wiechman said.
Bradley girls team shows improvement
Bradley girls coach Dan Hoover said the game against Darby will be very meaningful for his team as well.
"That's going to be our senior night and both teams will be up for the game," he said. "A lot of these girls have grown up together and play club together and, anytime you play people you know, you want to do well."
The Jaguars were 6-4-2 and 3-2 before playing Scioto on Oct. 1.
Bradley defeated Westerville North 4-0 in a league game Sept. 24, as forwards Alex Day and Jenna Fodor and midfielders Katie Fleischman and Becca Schalip each scored and goalie Coryanna Fraley had one save.
Two days later, the Jaguars played Olentangy Liberty to a scoreless tie, as goalie Shelby Halworth had three saves.
Liberty was 8-0-3 before playing Bradley.
"We've come alive lately and are jelling as a team," Hoover said. "We've increased the speed of play and we're moving the ball better. We're possessing the ball well and getting a fair amount of chances.
"We tied a very tough Olentangy Liberty team to show that we can compete with anybody. We had plenty of chances. We just didn't score the one goal we needed to beat them."
With defenders Taylor Baith, Faith Payton and Emily Wright leading the way, the Jaguars shut out seven of their first 12 opponents.
"Defensively, we've been stellar," Hoover said. "We're always looking to improve our offensive prowess, but Katie Fleischman and Jenna Fodor have been scoring a lot of goals for us and we've had great play out of Adriana Johnson in the midfield."
Davidson girls earn tie against Liberty
The Davidson girls team tied Liberty at 3 in an OCC-Central game Sept. 24 and was 8-2-2 overall and 3-1-1 in the league before playing Thomas Worthington on Oct. 1.
Forward Devon McClellan had two goals against Liberty. Forward Ashley Blake also scored and goalie Rachel Teater had three saves.
The Wildcats, who had a seven-game winning streak snapped by a 1-0 loss to Grove City on Sept. 19, will conclude the regular season with an OCC-Central contest Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Marysville.
Davidson beat Marysville 4-2 last year.