If nothing else, Jared Robinson of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team picked his spots this season.
The senior forward had 12 goals -- a little more than half of senior Kyle Baum's team-leading 23 -- but at the most important time of the season, Robinson took center stage.
His goal with less than five minutes left in a Division I state semifinal Nov. 7 at Bellbrook gave the Patriots a 1-0 victory over Mason, and his last goal of the year with five minutes to play in the first half of the state final provided insurance as Liberty defeated Sylvania Southview 2-0 on Nov. 10 at Crew Stadium for the program's first title.
"He was amazing," coach Rick Collins said. "The bigger the game, the bigger he played."
The win came one day short of a year after Liberty lost 4-2 to Cleveland St. Ignatius in the 2011 state final. This year's Patriots lost just once, a 2-1 setback at Thomas Worthington on Oct. 9 that spoiled their hopes of an unbeaten OCC-Central Division championship but derailed nothing else.
"It doesn't feel real. It feels like a dream," said senior goalkeeper Anderson deAndrade, who made three saves against Southview as his team finished 22-1 overall. "To be honest, I was skeptical at the beginning of the season, but once we started getting the gears running ... it's 2-0 in the state final. We completely dominated. It's an incredible feeling."
Robinson, a University of Evansville recruit, initially was credited with the game's first goal in the eighth minute. He lined a header off the post and Southview tried to clear the ball, but it appeared to bounce off the stomach of Southview's Samer Sarsour, then hit Sarsour's foot and dribbled in for an own goal.
There was no doubt on the second goal. Tied up by the Cougars' Chris Ellis off a corner kick, Liberty midfielder Donny Deep wrangled free and got the ball to forward Anthony Denoi, whose crossing pass was lined by Robinson to the left of Southview goalkeeper Eric Breeden.
"We definitely were on top of them the whole first half and we dictated the pace of the game," Robinson said.
Senior midfielder Sam DeRoy was the league and district Player of the Year, the state's co-Player of the Year and the ThisWeek Super 12 captain. He scored 14 goals for the Patriots, who went 6-1 in the OCC-Central to win the league title ahead of Dublin Coffman (5-2), Thomas (4-1-2), Hilliard Davidson (3-2-2), Marysville (3-2-2), Upper Arlington (2-4-1), Westland (1-5-1) and Central Crossing (0-7).
Liberty earned the top seed in the district tournament and outscored its opponents 20-2 in three games, defeating Whetstone 8-0 on Oct. 20, Lancaster 8-1 on Oct. 24 in a district semifinal and Pickerington North 4-1 in a district final Oct. 27. The Patriots won two 3-1 games in the regional tournament, against Westerville North in a semifinal Oct. 31 and Coffman in a final Nov. 3.
Baum was second-team all-state and first-team all-district, and Robinson was second-team all-district. Baum and Robinson were first-team all-league, deAndrade, junior midfielder Thomas Gullo and senior forward Zack Matheny were second-team all-league, senior defender Kyle Boone was special mention and senior defender Rajat Gupta was honorable mention.
"This year, the moment we walked in (to preseason practice), this was our one goal," Collins said of winning the state title. "That was the focus of everything we did. It's all been for this moment."
Braves boys hope to build on finish
Putting aside a 2-1, double-overtime loss to third-seeded Hilliard Darby in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24, the Olentangy boys team couldn't have asked for a much stronger final month of the season.
Sitting at 4-5-1 after a 1-0 loss at New Albany on Sept. 20, the Braves won their next five games and six of seven -- the only loss was 4-2 to Liberty on Oct. 13 -- to earn the 10th seed for the district tournament. Olentangy took a first-round bye and defeated visiting Newark 8-0 in a second-round game Oct. 20 before the loss to Darby.
Senior midfielder Joe Morycz scored his team-best seventh goal against Darby.
The Braves tied New Albany for second in the OCC-Capital at 5-2, behind champion Olentangy Orange (7-0) and ahead of Big Walnut (3-3-1), Delaware (3-3-1), Watkins Memorial (3-4), Mount Vernon (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7).
Olentangy loses 12 seniors, including midfielders Austin Horton and Jake Mazzeo. Among the expected returnees are juniors Jon Bechtol (forward), Donovan McGuire (goalkeeper), Adam Miller (goalkeeper), Chandler Parker (defender), Eric Renner (midfielder) and Logan Schwing (midfielder) and sophomores Jon Cameron (defender) and Bryce Johnson (forward).
Horton was first-team all-league, Mazzeo, Miller and Schwing were second-team honorees, Bechtol was special mention and Cameron was honorable mention.
"It's hard to accept that this year with this group is over. They won't be easy to replace," coach Matt Weiss said. "Joe Morycz looked like he was 20 years old out there at times. Austin Horton had 11 assists (and four goals) this year. They're the types of players that don't come around that often. Our younger guys realize they have some big shoes to fill."
Patriots girls losing four seniors
The Liberty girls team, which had only four seniors, concluded a nine-win season with a 2-1 loss to sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23.
Sophomore forward Elizabeth Castro scored for the 10th-seeded Patriots, who finished 9-7-2 overall and 5-2 in the OCC-Central.
Liberty started 4-0-1, but a four-game losing streak -- against Olentangy (1-0 on Sept. 22), Davidson (2-0 on Sept. 25), Grove City (1-0 on Sept. 27) and Coffman (3-0 on Oct. 2) -- doomed its chances at a league title. The Patriots finished third in the OCC-Central, behind champion Coffman (6-0-1) and Davidson (6-1) and ahead of Thomas (3-3-1), Marysville (2-2-3), Upper Arlington (2-4-1), Central Crossing (0-6-1) and Westland (0-6-1).
The Patriots took a first-round bye in the district tournament and defeated Delaware 10-0 on Oct. 18 in a second-round game.
Sophomore Kylie Slusser scored a team-high 11 goals and Castro added nine. Junior midfielder Julia Bruno and sophomore midfielder Emma Ranalli were first-team all-league, goalkeeper Miranda Kuhns was on the second team, sophomore defender Katie Best was special mention and senior midfielder Elisha Marger was honorable mention.