Liberty starts strong under new coach
It didn't take long for first-year Olentangy Liberty High School field hockey coach Marianne Flannery to notice some striking differences between coaching at the high school and college levels.
Flannery, who guided Wittenberg University to a 58-21 record from 2000-03, made her high school coaching debut Aug. 27 in the Patriots' 8-0 loss to Columbus Academy in a Central Ohio Field Hockey League game.
Three days later, Flannery coached Liberty to a 9-0 win over Lancaster in another league game.
"It was strange to start out like that here because I had the biggest win and biggest loss of my coaching career in my first two games," she said. "There are a variety of differences between coaching in high school and college and those (lopsided) scores are just one of them. We can't do some of the same drills that I used at Wittenberg and I've learned to take it down a notch when I explain things to these girls.
"But coaching at Liberty is proving to be a lot of fun because the girls are a lot more coachable at an earlier age. These girls are hard-working and united, and it's going to be fun to teach them the game and watch our team grow."
The Patriots, who finished 10-8 overall last year, also beat Orange 11-2 in a league game Sept. 5. They defeated Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame 3-0 and Cincinnati Indian Hill 7-3 on Sept. 8 and beat Dublin Scioto 10-0 in a league game Sept. 10 to improve to 5-1 overall.
Last year, Liberty finished 6-5 in the COFHL to tie Hartley and Olentangy for eighth. Academy and Thomas Worthington were co-champions at 10-0-1, with Bexley, Dublin Jerome, Granville and Upper Arlington tying for third at 7-4 and Watterson placing seventh at 6-4-1. Coffman (5-6) was 11th, followed by Columbus School for Girls (4-6-1), Orange and Worthington Kilbourne (both 2-9), Scioto (1-10) and Lancaster (0-11).
The Patriots opened the district tournament with a 3-0 win over CSG before losing to Watterson 3-1 in a semifinal.
Back to lead Liberty is senior midfielder Morgan Dye, an Indiana recruit who was first-team all-league a year ago with 14 goals and 19 assists.
Other returnees are seniors Emily Flanagan (defender) and Rachel Henderson (midfielder), juniors Alyssa Lorence (defender), Gaby Perez (attacker), Monique Vanderhulst (defender) and Leah Zevchik (attacker) and sophomore Dani Bursinger (midfielder, honorable mention all-league).
Rounding out the roster are junior Sidney Uttam (defender), sophomores Kendall Hunker (midfielder), Lauren Ludwig (defender), Megan Partin (attacker), Madelyn Passarella (goalkeeper), Rachel Warner (midfielder) and Mallory Wiles (midfielder) and freshman attacker Karri Stadulis.
Pioneers looking for improvement
Orange opened Aug. 28 with a 6-2 league loss to Kilbourne before losing to Academy 11-1 in a league game two days later.
The Pioneers also lost to Stow-Munroe Falls 3-2 on Sept. 1, to Liberty 11-2 on Sept. 5 and to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy 9-1 on Sept. 8.
Senior midfielder Erica Heitmeyer, who had two goals last year, is Orange's leading returning scorer.
Orange finished 3-11 overall a year ago, losing to Academy 11-0 in its district opener.
Other returnees are juniors Taylor Collett (defender), Alyssa Combs (midfielder) and Jaimey Dudley (defender) and sophomore attacker Hannah Kimball.
Completing the roster are seniors Kim Agyekum (goalkeeper), Alyssa Blankenship (midfielder), Emily Karl (attacker) and Amanda Reiter (attacker), juniors Cierra Beaumier (goalie), Katie Grimes (defender), Lauren Richards (defender) and Adie Tyler (midfielder), sophomores Olivia Kamer (attacker), Brittany Lower (attacker), Cailey Lower (attacker) and Mackenzie Siebert (defender) and freshman defender Charlotte Groce.
"Our offensive line is very strong. Once we get past the 25 and into our scoring circle, we do very good things," second-year coach Erin Otten said. "They are dynamic with their passes, move the ball quickly, and when the right opportunity opens up, they take strong shots at goal. Again, the problem is the disconnect up the field. We must improve our field play in order to get the ball up field as a team so we can do what we do best and score."
Coach: Braves in rebuilding mode
Olentangy opened Aug. 28 with a 6-0 league win over Lancaster before losing a league game 1-0 to New Albany on Aug. 30 and defeating Scioto 1-0 in a league game Sept. 6.
The Braves beat Kilbourne 1-0 in a league game Sept. 10.
Olentangy lost its district tournament opener to Coffman 2-1 in overtime a year ago to finish 6-11 overall.
"We lost a lot of seniors from last year's team, so we're having to rebuild," first-year coach Chelsea Huguenard said. "Our goal is to go over (.500) or at least win one more game than we won last year."
Letterwinners who have returned are seniors Samantha Antinori (defender), Payton Hagerdorn (attacker), Karen Kaplan (attacker), Deborah Song (attacker) and Lauren Verhage (midfielder) and juniors Kara Anderson (defender), Rachel Dannenhauer (midfielder), Emilie Laubenthal (forward) and Alyssa Lucas (midfielder).
Laubenthal had four goals and two assists last year, while Dannenhauer had four goals.
Rounding out the roster are junior Kashia Placek (midfielder), sophomores Madison Barnes (goalie), Emily Brehm (defender), Stephanie Jefferis (midfielder), Alex McCafferty (defender) and Mary Taratine (midfielder) and freshmen Haley Abramowitz (defender), Sierra Bell (defender) and Alex Hummer (goalie).
"We are very strong defensively and we're working hard to score more goals," Huguenard said. "The older girls are doing a good job of accepting the new varsity players, leading and showing respect on the field."