It was only one loss, but it was one that didn't settle well with the Johnstown-Monroe High School soccer team.
The Johnnies lost to Columbus Academy 2-0 last Tuesday, dropping their record to 1-1 overall before opening North Central Soccer League play Thursday at Buckeye Valley.
The game with Academy was supposed to a gauge for how far Johnstown had come from last year when it finished 10-0-2 in the regular season, but lost to Worthington Christian 4-0 in a Division I district semifinal. Coach Josh Stranges thought the loss to the Vikings might be the first of many wake-up calls on his team's schedule.
"Last season we were 10-0-2 and then ran into Worthington Christian in the postseason and that was that," said Stranges, whose team opened with a 3-1 win over Ready on Aug. 23. "We didn't play anyone to get us ready for that last year. This year we made the schedule tougher to prepare for the big games later in the season."
The Johnnies trailed 1-0 before giving up a second goal in the first two minutes of the first half. They played standout defense in the second half, but Academy also limited their scoring chances.
"This was our first obstacle of the season and it will help us to focus on league games," senior defender Andrew Dufford said. "We learned that there was no reason that we can't play with them. I thought our defensive pressure was better (in the second half), but we still can improve."
Johnstown came out feeling pressure against the Vikings.
"We were a little nervous before the game and we really needed to play our game instead of worrying about playing them," senior forward Hassan Terrant said. "We just needed to get our game together and play for 80 full minutes.
"We were too lackadaisical and we didn't have enough communication. For the last two years when we played the big games, we didn't play a full 80 minutes."
Beefing up the schedule is one way Stranges expects his team to be more at ease against tough opponents.
"We don't give ourselves credit. We came out nervous and that's something we have to get over because of our schedule," he said. "We play some of the top teams in the district in the next couple of weeks including playing at Tree of Life (Saturday) and at Bloom-Carroll (Sept. 9). I think we play seven of the top 10 teams in the district this season."
Junior midfielder Mike Dandrea believes his team took a step in the right direction last Tuesday.
"We knew it would be tough," said Dandrea, who had two goals and an assist against Ready. "We know we have a good team if we work well together. We knew we could leave it all out on the field because we have nine days before we play again.
"I think we need to settle down and have more patience passing. We need to be less impatient and play more relaxed to be like (Academy)."
Stranges believes his team's senior leadership might be the key to its success.
"This year we have 10 seniors and they should know what being a team is all about," he said. "They have played enough and know what we want and how to keep the team together. Plus the schedule we play means we need to be ready to play every game. Nothing is going to come easy."
TURF TOES -- One advantage the Johnnies may have over their opponents is playing on a home field with artificial turf. The sod on the high school field was replaced during the spring.
"I think we were a little overwhelmed the first time we played on the turf, but our kids play on it day in and day out," Stranges said. "It's always a good surface. It costs a lot of money to keep a grass field maintained and it's even harder to keep it going in the dry weather we've had for the last couple of months. But this field has been great."
Dandrea said it speeds up the game.
"The turf is nice for us because we practice on it and it helps us with our first touch. It really helps the speed of our play," he said.
Terrant said playing on the field required an adjustment.
"The turf is whole other ballgame," Terrant said. "If you play too easy, (the ball) slows down more on passes. You have to pass it with pace to get it where you want to go."
Dufford is happy the change was made.
"The (grass) turf was a lot different last year. This is a lot smoother to pass on, he said. "Now we can play the ball and pass faster. Still it's a narrow field, not as wide as we would like, but we'll take what we can get."
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Johnstown-Monroe boys and girls cross country, boys golf, girls volleyball and boys soccer teams:
Aug. 23 -- Boys: Finished 11th (263) of 15 teams in Newark Catholic Invitational behind champion Watkins Memorial (71). Jeremy Hornick won in 16:58.8, followed by Derek Harper (54th, 20:13.6), James Platt (61st, 20:30.2), Drew Jenney (68th, 20:55.2) and Keith Wilbur (101st, 25:24.2); Girls: Finished second (100) of 15 teams behind Newark Catholic (85). Stephanie Loshbough (fourth, 21:34.4) was followed by Erin Radigan (18 th, 22:38.1), Kaityn Sapp (21st, 22:56.1), Ashley Mast (25th, 23:02.2), Karlee Michel (32nd, 23:19.6), Kaila Cramer (33rd, 23:21.1) and Emily Johnson (54th, 24:08.9).
Last Saturday -- Competed in Westerville Classic
Wednesday -- At Northridge Invitational
Saturday -- At McGowan Invitational at Watkins Memorial
Sept. 12-13 -- At Galion Cross Country Festival
Aug. 22 -- Finished third (333) in Utica Invitational behind champion Watkins Memorial (309). Cody Green shot an 82.
Aug. 23 -- Finished eighth (333) in Northridge Invitational at St. Albans behind champion Granville (299). Green (77) was followed by Cody Peterman (83), Tim Williams (84) and Derek Hastings (89).
*Last Tuesday -- Def. Danville 169-187. Green shot a 40 followed by Hastings (42), Williams (43) and Peterman (44).
*Last Thursday -- Def. Fredericktown 169-191. Green shot a 40 followed by Peterman (41), Hastings (44) and Williams (44).
*Tuesday -- At Clover Valley vs. Centerburg
*Thursday -- At Roundtree vs. Loudonville
*Sept. 9 -- At Clover Valley vs. Utica
*Last Tuesday -- Lost to Utica 22-25, 25-12, 25-17, 25-24 in opener
*Last Thursday -- Lost to Centerburg 25-9, 25-15, 25-11
Last Saturday -- Played Heath and Watkins Memorial
*Tuesday -- Home vs. Northridge
*Thursday -- At Danville
Saturday -- Home vs. Uhrichsville Claymont
*Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Fredericktown
Aug. 23 -- Def. Ready 3-1 in opener. Mike Dandrea had two goals and one assist, Adam Brooks had one goal and Kyle Buck had an assist.
Last Tuesday -- Lost to Columbus Academy 2-0
*Thursday -- At Buckeye Valley
Saturday -- At Tree of Life
Sept. 9 -- At Bloom-Carroll
At a glance
Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Northridge boys and girls cross country, boys golf, girls volleyball and boys soccer teams:
Last Wednesday -- Boys: Finished 14 th (353) of 17 teams in Canal Winchester Invitational behind champion Bexley (42). Michael Derringer (19th, 18:05) was followed by Josh Parkinson (64th, 19:52), Derek Hull (71st, 20:09), Paul Hager (143rd, 22:33) and Joe Pileski (153rd, 23:02); Girls: Did not post team score at Canal Winchester Invitational as Canal Winchester (31) was first. Emily VanNess (94th, 25:00) was followed by Jessica Parkinson (147th, 27:34) and Holly McKimmins (161st, 29:52).
Wednesday -- Home Northridge Invitational
Sept. 10 -- At Fairfield Union Invitational
Aug. 22 -- Team score not available from Utica Invitational. Barry Roth finished as runner-up (76) to medalist Corey Weisenstein (73) of Watkins Memorial.
Aug. 23 -- Finished ninth (336) in Northridge Invitational behind champion Granville (299). Addie Cortez (73) was followed by Roth (82), Torey Eckhardt (87) and Connor Burke (94).
*Last Tuesday -- Def. Fredericktown 161-184. Cortez and Roth shot 36 with Eckhardt at 43 and Sam Cox at 46.
*Thursday -- At Apple Valley vs. East Knox
*Sept. 8 -- At St. Albans vs. Danville
*Last Tuesday -- Lost to Danville 25-23, 25-14, 25-20 in opener
*Last Thursday -- Lost to Fredericktown 25-12, 25-19, 25-14
*Tuesday -- At Johnstown
*Thursday -- Home vs. East Knox
*Sept. 9 -- At Utica
Last Tuesday -- Lost to Madison Christian 4-1. Jordan Johnson scored.
Tuesday -- Home vs. East Knox
*Thursday -- At Caledonia River Valley
Sept. 9 -- Home vs. Liberty Union
Of note: The Vikings are 1-2.