Lineup changes help Orange girls
Every season features some personnel adjustments for coaches.
Faced with a 1-3 record through four games, Olentangy Orange High School girls soccer coach Jen Odebrecht shuffled her lineup, moving sophomore Taylor Momburg from defender to midfielder and senior center-midfielder Carly Swisher back inside rather than playing her outside. These moves were made partly because sophomore center-midfielder Emily Beaver sustained a season-ending tear of an anterior cruciate ligament, and because the defense had allowed eight goals through four games.
The moves have worked. The Pioneers were 4-0-1 in their previous five games entering a Sept. 18 contest at Delaware to improve to 5-3-1 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Capital Division. In that stretch, the Pioneers allowed one goal.
"We just had to find the right adjustments to settle in," Odebrecht said. "We've done well when we've moved the ball and been fast on attacking. We're still finding our rhythm. All in all, this is a good place to be right now."
The only goal allowed in that period came in a 2-1 win over Thomas Worthington on Sept. 6. Orange shut out Worthington Christian (1-0 on Sept. 1), Olentangy (2-0 on Sept. 4), Mount Vernon (10-0 on Sept. 11) and Upper Arlington (scoreless tie on Sept. 13).
The defense has been fueled by the play of senior backs Lauren Clouse and Taylor Delara, junior Emily Burton and sophomore Amy Luce.
"With them back there and Mackenzie (Brunke) in goal, the defense has been incredible," Swisher said. "We have to make sure we're doing the simple things well. We're confident in each other and recognizing a lot of tendencies."
Odebrecht, who was a goalkeeper for Thomas' 1997 Division I state runner-up team and also played for Division II Rollins College in Florida, gave Brunke, a sophomore, a share of the credit for the team's recent surge.
"She's our most valuable player for the first nine games," Odebrecht said. "You wouldn't know she's only a sophomore considering the way she's able to help run the team and interact with her teammates. She's confident and poised. She's learned a lot and she's only going to get better."
The Pioneers' home game against Westerville South on Thursday, Sept. 20, begins a five-game homestand. Orange's only remaining road game is its regular-season finale, Oct. 9 at Watkins Memorial.
"You look at Westerville South, Westerville Central (Sept. 27) and Liberty (Oct. 4), and we have some big games coming up," Brunke said. "We need to focus in on ourselves and prove to people around the district that we deserve a pretty high seed in the (Division I district) tournament."