The Centennial High School boys soccer team dominated possession in its first two City League-North Division games but walked off the field with different results.
The Stars defeated visiting Mifflin 4-0 in their City-North opener Aug. 27 before playing host Northland to a scoreless tie the following day to move to 1-1-1 overall.
"We dominated possession in this (Northland) game just as much as we did against Mifflin and we had plenty of chances to score," coach Scott George said. "But Northland played eight back and clogged the inside of the box and we just didn't take enough quality shots. We'll need to improve on finishing because a lot of our City League opponents are going to play this way against us this season."
When Centennial plays Thursday, Sept. 5, at Brookhaven in its next City-North contest, George expects the Bearcats to emulate Northland's defensive style.
Brookhaven opened with a 3-2 league loss to Northland on Aug. 22 and lost to Columbus International 6-1 in another league game Aug. 27.
Centennial beat Brookhaven 4-2 last year.
"If we can control possession the way we did in our first two league games, Brookhaven will probably play eight back and try to play the ball to their speedy forwards," George said. "When teams play that way against us our forwards need to recognize when they are covered and drop the ball back to our midfielders so they can take a shot. Our players also need to rush the goalkeeper so they are in position to put shots away when the goalkeeper drops the ball."
The Stars expect to face a more aggressive opponent Monday, Sept. 9, at International. The Lions were 3-0 before playing Whetstone on Sept. 3.
Centennial and International tied at 1 a year ago.
George said the Stars' 7-1 loss to Watterson on Aug. 22 has prepared them to face more-skilled opponents.
"Columbus International has some good players and we expect them to play a much more aggressive style than most teams in our league," George said. "We've already played one of the best teams in our region in our season opener against Watterson. That was one of those games where losing against a good team actually made us better."
Forward Gus Ricksecker scored in both of Centennial's first two games.
Against Mifflin, midfielder Timothy Weishaupt scored twice on penalty kicks, forward Manny Kankam scored once and goalkeeper Mason Pennington had eight saves.
"Gus Ricksecker has been consistent in the air and he has a good shot," George said. "Tim Weishaupt has good vision and he controls the flow of our offense from the center midfielder. And (sweeper) Luka Brkljacic is our lockdown defender. I have a lot of faith in him commanding from the back."
Girls volleyball team opens with league wins
The girls volleyball team opened its season by winning back-to-back City-North matches.
After a 25-9, 25-5, 25-5 home victory over Mifflin on Aug. 27, the Stars won at Northland 25-21, 25-19, 25-19 the following day.
"I think our team is so much better this year," said outside hitter Jenna Herron, whose squad finished 19-3 overall and won the City-North title at 16-0 last season. "We have better attitudes and more talent this year. Our coaches make a big difference. They give us really good strategies, both physical and mental, for every match."
Centennial trailed Northland 11-10 in the first game and 19-18 in the second before rallying to win both.
Coach Brenden Pence called timeout at 19-18 in the second game, and Centennial scored the final seven points with libero Maddi Parker serving.
"Northland has some strong hitters and a scrappy bunch overall, so this was a good win for us," Pence said. "I took that timeout in the second (game) to calm our players down and make sure they got back to the basic fundamentals."
Against Northland, setter Sam Meanor had 28 assists and five aces, outside hitter Marissa Robertson had 12 kills, Herron had seven kills and opposite hitter Symfhani Pitts had six kills.
"Sam's our floor captain and she's done a nice job of leading our offense while setting in a 5-1 system," Pence said. "Marissa Robertson, (middle hitter) Sierra Hawkins, Jenna Herron and Symfhani Pitts have all been good go-to hitters, and Alyah Dean has played well at libero."
The Stars played their third match Sept. 3 against Columbus East. They play another league match Thursday, Sept. 5, at Brookhaven before playing host Sept. 9 to Dublin Scioto.
"We just need to pay attention to our fundamentals and use our speed against Brookhaven," Pence said. "We've added Dublin Scioto to our schedule to make it tougher because we feel playing a team of their quality will make us better. The key is to not get flustered because that's when our girls sometimes begin to play outside of themselves. They need to stay with their roles."
"Playing the teams that aren't very good can be boring, so we're excited to play Dublin Scioto," Herron said. "Even if we lose to them, we'll be learning and getting better."
Football team to face Falcons
The football team will play host to Franklin Heights on Friday, Sept. 6.
The Stars, who opened Aug. 30 at Grandview, finished 1-9 last year.
The Falcons, who opened Aug. 30 at Westerville North, finished 2-8 last season.
With only 26 players on their roster, the Falcons have multiple players competing on offense, defense and special teams.
Expected to lead Centennial's 3-4 defense against Franklin Heights' spread offense are senior nose guard Kenny Lambert, junior linebacker Darsean Watts and senior defensive end Noah Martin.
Seven starters have returned to the Stars' multiple-formation offense, including junior quarterback Jeremy Johnson and senior tight end Jirequez Fair-Harris. Both were honorable mention all-league a year ago.