Nick Anderson doesn't like when people refer to the Olentangy Orange High School boys soccer team in the past tense.

Nick Anderson doesn't like when people refer to the Olentangy Orange High School boys soccer team in the past tense.

While the senior defender is proud of the Pioneers' 17-2-1 season that ended with a 1-0 loss to eventual Division I state champion Gahanna in a regional final last year, he is equally pleased with Orange's start this season.

Before last Tuesday, the Pioneers were 7-2 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital Division.

"No one expected much from us this year, but we had our own goals where we thought we could be," Anderson said. "We've exceeded other people's expectations as well as some of our own."

The Pioneers graduated 10 players who combined to score 59 of the team's 87 goals last season, including Aaron Horton (26 goals, eight assists) and Taylor Rieger (15 goals, 10 assists).

Through eight games last season, Orange averaged 4.1 goals and allowed six goals. Through eight games this year, the Pioneers were averaging 2.3 goals and had allowed eight.

"We're not as prolific as we were a year ago, but we're getting it done," coach Scott Bryant said. "We're not blowing teams out; we're kind of grinding our way through."

The Pioneers' game Sept. 21 at Watkins Memorial is a perfect example of that. Last year, Orange rolled to a 9-3 victory over the Warriors. But this year, midfielder Alex Binger scored in the first half and the Pioneers' defense was able to hold on for a 1-0 victory.

Instead of relying on one or two primary scorers, the Pioneers have taken a scoring-by-committee approach this year. Jesus Villarroel, who had 12 goals and four assists last year and was the only returnee to score more than six goals a year ago, was leading the team with nine goals through nine games, but several other players have chipped in a goal or two.

"These guys have built their own identity," Bryant said.

Anderson said that personality was forged last summer. Members of the program would get together once or twice a week during the summer and play pickup games with former players such as Horton and Olentangy graduate Chad Barson, who was a member of the University of Akron men's team last year when it won the Division I national championship.

"We put in a lot of work over the summer," Anderson said. "We have a lot of chemistry, and that's helped us out so far."

ĽA series of injuries has slowed the development of the Olentangy girls team.

"The last two weeks we've had our ups and downs," said coach Kristen Schreiber, whose team is 2-6-2 overall before playing Westerville Central last Tuesday. "I said before the season, our biggest concern is going to be consistency. We have to play every game to the best of our potential."

The Braves lost forward Catie Crumb to a season-ending knee injury in a 4-2 victory over Pickerington Central on Sept. 9 and have been without forward Nicole Bean because of an injury since a 2-0 loss to New Albany on Sept. 16. Goalkeeper Shannon Schneider missed four games with an ankle injury.

"We have a lot of players who have been nicked up and aren't playing 100 percent," Schreiber said. "It's been frustrating for them, but we're trying to get everyone ready for the postseason right now."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Liberty, Olentangy and Orange boys and girls soccer teams:

LIBERTY BOYS

*Sept. 21 - Lost to Westerville North 1-0

Sept. 23 - Tied New Albany at 2

*Last Tuesday - Played Dublin Scioto

Saturday - At Stow-Munroe Falls

*Tuesday - Home vs. Westerville Central

Of note: The Patriots were 3-5-2 overall and 1-2-1 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

LIBERTY GIRLS

*Sept. 21 - Defeated Westerville North 1-0

*Last Tuesday - Played Dublin Scioto

Today - Home vs. Hilliard Davidson

*Tuesday - At Westerville Central

Of note: The Patriots were 8-0-2 overall and 4-0 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

OLENTANGY BOYS

*Sept. 21 - Lost to Dublin Jerome 1-0

Sept. 23 - Def. Fairbanks 4-1

*Last Tuesday - Played Westerville Central

Today - Home vs. Chillicothe Unioto

*Tuesday - Home vs. Westerville South

Of note: The Braves were 4-2-2 overall and 2-1-1 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

OLENTANGY GIRLS

*Sept. 21 - Lost to Dublin Jerome 3-1

Sept. 23 - Tied Orange at 1

Last Saturday - Lost to Hilliard Bradley 1-0

*Last Tuesday - Played Westerville Central

*Tuesday - At Westerville South

Of note: The Braves were 2-6-2 overall and 0-3-1 in OCC-Cardinal before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Cardinal game

ORANGE BOYS

*Sept. 21 - Def. Watkins Memorial 1-0

Last Saturday - Def. Huber Heights Wayne 2-1

*Last Tuesday - Played Franklin Heights

Today - Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

*Tuesday - At Hilliard Bradley

Of note: The Pioneers were 7-2 overall and 4-0 in OCC-Capital before last Tuesday.

ORANGE GIRLS

*Sept. 21 - Def. Watkins Memorial 9-1

Sept. 23 - Tied Olentangy at 1

*Last Tuesday - Played Franklin Heights

Today - At Thomas Worthington

*Tuesday - Home vs. Hilliard Bradley

Of note: The Pioneers were 5-4-1 overall and 3-1 in OCC-Capital before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Capital game