With no returning goal-scorers, the Northland High School boys soccer team expected to have some difficult moments offensively this season.

With no returning goal-scorers, the Northland High School boys soccer team expected to have some difficult moments offensively this season.

There have been, including in a 9-0 loss Sept. 24 to defending City League-North Division champion Brookhaven.

What the Vikings are hoping is that a large group of underclassmen who have been contributing are benefiting from the on-the-job-training situation.

"It's a rebuilding year," first-year coach Shaun McClain said. "We don't have any players who even scored last year. We've got the heart, but we just don't have the leaders like we've had in past years."

Senior Mohamed Aden has been a standout despite not being a starter. Because of an off-the-field responsibility that forces him to often be late for practice, Aden is the first sub off the bench. Through seven games, he had scored a team-best three goals.

Freshman Martin Montero, who had two goals through five games, also has been a solid addition.

Juniors Austin Miller and Daniel Smith, who are the team's most experienced players, also have been key contributors.

In Northland's 2-1 loss to Centennial on Sept. 17, junior Francisco Gaytan had to leave with five minutes remaining after being run into by a Stars player. McClain believed the Centennial player should have received a red card, but none was given. Northland failed to turn a free kick into a goal and the Stars held on.

"We lost a tough one against Centennial," McClain said.

• Football coach Kevin Tooson had mostly praise for his team after its performance in a 14-6 loss to defending City-North champion Brookhaven on Sept. 18, particularly defensively.

"I love my team and I love their spirits," Tooson said. "They've got a good work ethic. Like any group of brothers, they're not going to get along 100 percent of the time, but they fight, scratch and claw every game. We just need to keep getting better at what we do."

The Vikings have five weeks remaining to improve an offense which was held to just 2 yards of offense in the second half against Brookhaven. They took a step forward last Friday in a 29-0 win over East to improve to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the league.

Through three games, Jerrell Jones (241 yards), Raynard Ballard (191) and Jamar Yates (106) all have had their moments carrying the ball and Myles Taylor-Hicks (16-for-32 passing for 164 yards) has settled in at quarterback.

Last Friday, Ballard ran for 161 yards and three touchdowns and linebacker James Radabaugh had three sacks.

Centennial, which travels to Northland on Friday, lost 6-0 in overtime to Linden on Sept. 18 and 44-6 to Mifflin last Friday. The Stars are 0-5 and haven't won a game since 2006.

•Over the next two weeks, the girls volleyball team will learn whether a tougher non-league schedule will begin to pay dividends.

During a 10-match losing streak to begin the season, the Vikings lost to three OCC and two CCL schools, including defending Division III district champion Ready (25-10, 25-19 on Sept. 19).

Northland rebounded once it began City-North play by beating Beechcroft (25-9, 25-22, 25-13 on Sept. 22) and Brookhaven (27-25, 25-13, 25-10 on Sept. 24) before playing Linden-McKinley last Tuesday.

The Vikings play host today to Whetstone, which usually is one of the stronger teams in the conference, and they play eight-time defending conference-champion Centennial on Oct. 13.

"We stepped up this year with stiffer competition on our schedule," coach J. Sanchez said. "That shows with our record so far. What doesn't show with our record is that we actually do belong on the court against these teams. Against New Albany, one of the games was 25-23."

Senior Juanita Johnson has moved back to libero after spending time early in the season at outside hitter, and the move has been beneficial, according to Sanchez.

Sophomore setter Roniesha Ennis and sophomore Briyona Smith, who is a first-year player, have been other standouts thus far.

"We still play standing up a little bit, but I like the way they're playing with more energy," Sanchez said. "The team is still up because they know they're swimming in the deep end with our schedule."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Northland boys soccer team:

*Sept. 17 -- Lost to Centennial 2-1

*Sept. 24 -- Lost to Brookhaven 9-0

Last Saturday -- Lost to Pickerington North 12-0

Last Monday -- Lost to Whitehall 3-0

Last Tuesday -- Played West

*Last Wednesday -- Played Beechcroft in a rescheduled game from Sept. 22

*Today -- Home vs. Whetstone

Monday -- At Independence

Of note: The Vikings were 2-5 overall and 0-2 in the City-North before last Tuesday.

*City-North contest

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Northland boys and girls cross country, football, boys golf, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 19 -- Boys: Finished last (125) in six-team Newark Invitational behind champion Upper Arlington (16); Girls: Finished fourth (116) in five-team field behind champion UA (15)

Sept. 23 -- Boys: Finished eighth (218) in 13-team Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone behind champion and host Braves (34); Girls: Finished seventh (177) in 10-team field behind champion Watterson (40)

Last Saturday -- Boys: Did not score at the Lancaster Bob Reall Invitational as three athletes competed in the Division I race; Girls: Did not score at Lancaster as four athletes ran in the open race

Saturday -- At Pickerington North Invitational

FOOTBALL

*Sept. 18 -- Lost to Brookhaven 14-6

*Last Friday -- Def. Columbus East 29-0

*Friday -- Home vs. Centennial

Of note: The Vikings are 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the City League-North Division.

GOLF

*Sept. 15 -- Finished third (248) behind Centennial (173) and Columbus South (205) at Walnut Hills

*Sept. 16 -- Finished second (229) behind Columbus West (223) and ahead of Walnut Ridge (249) at Raymond Memorial

*Sept. 22 -- Finished second (233) behind Briggs (214) and ahead of Eastmoor (264) and Africentric (287) at Airport

*Sept. 24 -- Finished second (226) behind Briggs (215) and ahead of Columbus East (302) at Raymond Memorial

*Last Tuesday -- Competed in City League match

*Today -- City League match

*Monday -- City League match

*Tuesday -- City League match

Of note: The Vikings were 9-6 in the City League before last Tuesday.

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 15 -- Def. Briggs 8-1

Sept. 17 -- Lost to Centennial 3-0

Sept. 22 -- Def. Beechcroft 2-1

Sept. 24 -- Lost to Groveport 4-0

Last Monday -- Lost to Chillicothe 7-0

Last Wednesday -- Played Dublin Scioto

Monday -- At Hamilton Township

Tuesday -- At Harley Field vs. Columbus East

Of note: The Vikings were 3-6 before last Wednesday.

TENNIS

*Sept. 15 -- Lost to Whetstone 5-0

*Sept. 17 -- Lost to Centennial 3-2

*Sept. 22 -- Def. Mifflin 5-0

*Sept. 23 -- Def. Linden-McKinley 5-0

Last Monday, last Wednesday -- Played in City League Coaches Tournament

Monday -- At South

VOLLEYBALL

Sept. 16 -- Lost to New Albany 25-15, 25-21, 25-15

Sept. 19 -- Went 0-3 at Dublin Scioto Tournament, losing to Ready (25-10, 25-19), Gahanna (25-10, 25-15) and Groveport (25-14, 25-18)

*Sept. 22 -- Def. Beechcroft 25-9, 25-22, 25-13

Sept. 23 -- Lost to Grandview 25-11, 25-19, 25-12

*Sept. 24 -- Def. Brookhaven 27-25, 25-13, 25-10

Last Monday -- Played Huber Heights Wayne

*Last Tuesday -- Played Linden

*Today -- Home vs. Whetstone

Saturday -- At Johnstown

*Tuesday -- Home vs. East

Of note: The Vikings were 2-11 overall before last Monday and 2-0 in the City-North before last Tuesday.

*City-North contest