Orange boys ready for postseason
Olentangy Orange High School boys soccer coach Scott Bryant didn't talk to his team for long after a 2-all tie against Worthington Kilbourne in the regular-season finale Oct. 11, but he gave the Pioneers food for thought.
"Everybody's going to give us their best shot in the (Division I district) tournament," senior goalkeeper Zach Arefi said of Bryant's message. "We're definitely getting a lot of respect and we appreciate it, but we can't take it lightly. We know they'll be taking their best shot so we have to go out and play our best and hardest every game. All the other teams will be doing the same thing."
After going 10-4-2 overall and 7-0 in the OCC-Capital Division, the Pioneers will open the postseason as the sixth seed. After a first-round bye, they will play host to Franklin Heights at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20. With a win, Orange will play host to 12th-seeded Westerville South, Grove City or Westland in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Bryant said a defensive change sparked the Pioneers' success.
"We had two of our starting defenders back from last year (Graham Keown and Nick Wheeler) and we moved Graham to the center back position. We still needed another center back so we put Alec (Binger) back there in the preseason," Bryant said. "He'd never really played back there and the defense kind of jelled when he was back there. We put Luke Gabbert back there as well at left back as a sophomore and that back line has really jelled."
Orange defeated Franklin Heights 10-1 on Sept. 25 in league play. Orange did not face its potential district semifinal opponents during the regular season.
The semifinal winner would play seventh-seeded Westerville North, Marysville, Mount Vernon, Reynoldsburg or Watkins Memorial in a district final Oct. 27 at Westerville Central. Of those teams, the Pioneers defeated Marysville (2-0), Mount Vernon (1-0) and Watkins Memorial (3-0) in OCC-Capital games.
Arefi said a 1-0 loss to Hilliard Bradley in a district semifinal last year still haunts the Pioneers.
"We learned we need to play our best every game," he said. "We definitely didn't do that last year. We weren't cohesive as a team, so that's something we've worked on this year."
Braves like potential opening opponents
The Olentangy girls team took a first-round bye in the Division I district tournament and will play host to Upper Arlington or Westerville North at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18.
The Braves played North and UA to scoreless ties Sept. 6 and Sept. 29, respectively.
"It's two teams where we feel like it'll be a good game no matter who we play," coach Drew Zellers said.
Olentangy is 3-0-1 since losing three consecutive games in mid-September to New Albany (4-2), Bradley (1-0) and Pickerington Central (1-0). The Braves finished the regular season 6-5-4 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Capital.
"We've given up 13 goals in 15 games," Zellers said. "We had a span last year where we gave up 15 in two games. The ball has bounced our way more this year, and we've taken advantage."
The second-round winner will play fifth-seeded Watterson or Logan in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23. That winner will play fourth-seeded Hilliard Davidson, Mount Vernon, Teays Valley or Thomas Worthington in a district final Oct. 27 at Canal Winchester.
The Braves have played two of those teams, defeating Mount Vernon 6-0 on Oct. 2 and tying Thomas at 0 on Aug. 23.
Skid helped Patriots refocus
According to coach Lisa Saiben, the Liberty girls team didn't let a four-game losing streak in late September derail its season.
Despite consecutive losses to Olentangy (1-0), Davidson (2-0), Grove City (1-0) and Dublin Coffman (3-0), the Patriots finished the regular season with records of 8-5-2 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Central.
They earned the 10th seed in the Division I district tournament and will open against Canal Winchester or Delaware at home in a second-round game at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 18.
"It did make our team closer and helped us remember to focus on fundamentals," Saiben said. "Luckily for us, we got back in the swing of things in a hurry against Orange (2-0 win Oct. 4). They've tried to make the right decisions and, for the most part, they have."
Liberty would play eighth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne or Westland in a district semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23. That winner will play third-seeded Dublin Jerome, 12th-seeded Grove City, Hilliard Darby, Northland or Reynoldsburg in a district final Oct. 27 at Canal Winchester.
Of those potential opponents, the Patriots beat Westland 6-1 on Sept. 18, tied Kilbourne at 0 on Sept. 20 and lost to Jerome 8-1 on Oct. 13.