Experience has paid off for the Olentangy High School boys lacrosse team.
The Braves were 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Orange on April 17, thanks in part to the leadership of their 14 seniors.
"I think some teams start slow just because they are young and don't know what to expect," senior attacker Eric Milliron said. "We're a senior-laden group. We have a lot of young talent, but we're also very experienced. We're playing well, but we can get better."
"Our seniors have been really buying into what we are doing," coach Zach Peterson said. "Some have lost (playing) time to some of the younger guys and they have been selfless. It's been like a family."
The Braves defeated New Albany 8-3 in their OCC-Ohio opener April 3 and beat Gahanna 13-3 in a league game April 12.
Against Gahanna, senior midfielder Jeff Simmons had a team-high three goals and Milliron and senior attackers Austin Lilly and Jake Temple each had two goals. Junior goalkeeper Cole Palmby had six saves and sophomore goalie Ryan Dop had one.
"Winning the league is one of our primary goals," coach Zach Peterson said. "We have been playing well, but we have to take care of the Olentangy schools we have coming up."
Olentangy, which plays host to Liberty on April 26, defeated Westerville Central 15-10 on April 13 as senior midfielder Mitch Newell had five goals and Milliron and sophomore attacker Cliff Kigar both scored three. Palmby had eight saves.
"I think we really are starting to come together as a team and starting to jell," Newell said. "We have been doing well in transition and everyone understands their roles."
Olentangy's only loss through five games came against Dublin Jerome, 13-5 on April 5. Peterson is in his first season with the Braves after serving as an assistant coach at Jerome the past five years. The Celtics won the Division II state title in 2011 and were the Division I state runners-up last season.
"With a new coach and new philosophies, we had a lot of new stuff thrown at us," Milliron said. "It takes time to perfect those things. We need to mesh with the new offenses and figure out where people need to be."
While Peterson agrees that the Braves have room for improvement, he likes that his team has been aggressive defensively.
"(Senior defender) Tate Stover and (junior defender) Jonah Gutentag have played well defensively," Peterson said. "There has been a lot of communication and they have played well together.
"Cole has been great in goal. He's been standing on his head back there."
Orange boys split first four games
Orange was 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Olentangy on April 17.
The Pioneers bounced back from a 19-2 loss to Jerome in their season opener April 1 to beat Hilliard Bradley 15-2 in their league opener April 3.
Orange then defeated Westerville North 16-6 on April 5 before losing to Hilliard Davidson 10-8 on April 12. Its league game April 10 at Gahanna was postponed because of bad weather and rescheduled for Monday, April 22.
Against Westerville North, junior midfielder Alex Menzo had four goals, junior midfielder Jarrod Gilliam scored three and junior defender Tony Menzo and freshman midfielder Tyler Lichter each scored two. Junior goalie Robert McHale had five saves.
Liberty boys dealt with long layoff
Liberty was 3-4 overall but had won back-to-back games before playing Pickerington Central on April 16.
The Patriots, who were 1-0 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Gahanna on April 17, defeated Birmingham (Mich.) Seaholm 9-8 in overtime on April 6 and beat Upper St. Clair (Pa.) 8-6 on April 7. Both games were part of the Westerville South's Wildcat Classic.
Liberty had a home game with Westerville Central postponed April 10 because of bad weather and rescheduled for May 16.
That meant that before playing Pickerington Central, the Patriots went nine days between games.
Liberty won its league opener, beating Hilliard Darby 8-0 on April 3. Junior attacker Mitchell Hughes had three goals and sophomore goalie Sean Murphy had six saves.