Liberty boys not surprised by play
According to senior midfielder Sam DeRoy, the Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team surprised itself with last year's run to the Division I state final.
But the Patriots' 4-2 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius at Crew Stadium has provided plenty of motivation for this season.
"We weren't expecting to make it to the championship game," DeRoy said. "After we got there and didn't win, it definitely carried over into this year and made us want to do it again."
The Patriots took records of 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Central Division into a league game against Marysville on Sept. 11. Liberty had beaten Orange (1-0 on Aug. 21), Gahanna (4-0 on Aug. 25), Central Crossing (7-0 in league opener Aug. 28), New Albany (4-0 on Aug. 30), Upper Arlington (7-2 in league game Sept. 4) and Dublin Scioto (3-0 on Sept. 6).
Coach Rick Collins said he was pleased with the start "but not in a cocky way. ... We felt coming into the season that we were going to be the team to beat and we wanted to play like that.
"I didn't expect us to put up some of the score lines we've put up, but I thought we'd be a very difficult team to beat."
Through six games, the Patriots had outscored their opponents 26-2 behind DeRoy and junior Thomas Gullo in the midfield and seniors Kyle Baum, Zach Matheny and Jared Robinson at forward.
"It's been really great," DeRoy said. "Our goal differential is as good as any team in the state. We're pretty confident."
Through six games, Baum had six goals and DeRoy had five, including three against New Albany. DeRoy also had four assists.
Gullo had four goals and one assist, Robinson had three goals and three assists and Matheny had one goal and four assists.
"We knew, offensively, we were going to be strong and a force to be reckoned with," Collins said. "We continued that momentum and high level of play we had at the end of last year."
Last year's defensive back line was lost to graduation, but Liberty still recorded five shutouts in its first six games behind senior goalkeeper Anderson deAndrade.
"The shutouts have been the thing I've been most proud of," Collins said. "We weren't sure, beyond Anderson, if we could sort the defense out and the guys have really stepped in and done well."
DeAndrade was upset about not having a shutout against UA.
"I was disappointed I let in a goal," he said. "I just wanted to keep the shutouts going."
Positive attitudes like that are among the reasons Collins has set the bar high for the Patriots. He'd like the team to be 16-0 entering the postseason.
"We've set some really lofty goals this year," he said. "Because the results have been lopsided, it's easy for them to feel like they're on top of the world. They're not playing like that, but we've got to continue at this high level. We'll see as the season rolls on. We've got some big games coming up, especially in the conference. That will show us a lot."
Some of those big games include Oct. 2 at home against Dublin Coffman in a rematch of last season's regional final that Liberty won 3-1 and a trip Oct. 4 to Dublin Jerome, a district semifinalist last year.
"It's whether or not we can stay humble and not get too cocky," deAndrade said. "We need to take each game one step at a time. That's how we did it last year."
The Patriots also have made a positive impression on at least one opponent.
"Liberty was so absolutely good," New Albany coach Ben Arthurs said. "Hopefully they can bring a state championship back to central Ohio. They were contenders last year with this same group. They're fantastic."