First-year Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer coach Rick Collins knew there was risk involved in scheduling Olentangy Orange for his team's opener.

First-year Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer coach Rick Collins knew there was risk involved in scheduling Olentangy Orange for his team's opener.

The Patriots ended up sweeping an Aug. 25 doubleheader against the visiting Pioneers, with the girls team winning 1-0 and the boys team winning 2-0.

"It's a big confidence booster. We all talked about what this game meant," said Collins, whose team followed the win with a 1-0 victory over New Albany on Aug. 27. "This just gives the guys a lift. It validates some of our feelings and how we want to play."

Last year, the Liberty boys opened with a 4-1 loss to Orange.

The Pioneers went on to finish 19-3 overall, losing to Centerville 2-1 in a Division I state semifinal.

The Patriots needed a late-season surge to finish with a winning record. They went 8-7-5 overall, losing to Thomas Worthington 2-1 in a Division I district final.

Liberty sophomore forward Aidan Bean said the Patriots used last season's opening loss to Orange as motivation.

"I remember getting beat so badly, getting embarrassed in our backyard at Orange," said Bean, who scored the first goal against the Pioneers on Aug. 25. "We had high energy the whole day (before facing Orange this time). We came out and took care of business."

Orange goalkeeper Zach Arefi, who made 10 saves, said he and his teammates are determined not to let the loss to Liberty derail their season.

"We have to keep working hard in practice," he said. "We can't lose any more games at this point."

"I think we can build on this game because of how we battled," Orange coach Scott Bryant said. "In some of our preseason scrimmages, we'd fall behind early and our heads would go down. (After falling behind against Liberty) we stayed even with them and, at times, outplayed them a bit."

Both of the Aug. 25 Liberty-Orange games had postseason intensity.

The Patriots girls scored the winner when freshman Natalie Flahive knocked in a shot after the ball bounced off the crossbar and landed at her feet.

"We were definitely nervous and excited to play," Flahive said. "We're going against (another) Olentangy (district) school, so it's going to be a big rivalry."

"It just feels different when you're coming out to play an Orange or Olentangy," Liberty coach Lisa Saiben said. "All of these girls are soccer buddies from the youth leagues. Personally, my brother (Brian Nicola) teaches over at Orange, so it's an even better feeling."

The games among Liberty, Olentangy and Orange always seem to be intense. The Olentangy boys and girls teams play host to Liberty in OCC-Cardinal Division games Sept. 12 and close the regular season at Orange on Oct. 15.

Last year, all three boys teams and the Liberty girls made it to district finals, with the Orange boys winning a district title.

"We talk about how if there were just one Olentangy school how unbelievably talented that school would be in soccer," Collins said. "It'd be ridiculous."