Taylor Scott of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team knows how to pick his spots.
The senior forward entered the week with 10 goals, second on the Patriots to junior midfielder Donny Deep's 14. His ninth goal clinched a Division I district championship, and his 10th sent Liberty to the state tournament.
Scott scored with 9 minutes, 39 seconds to play in the first 15-minute overtime to lift the defending state champion Patriots to a 2-1 victory over Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal Nov. 2 at Westerville Central. Liberty won its third consecutive regional title, with all of those wins coming over the Shamrocks.
The winning goal came off a free kick by senior defender Devin Collins just outside the box. Senior defender Austin Ashcraft took the first shot, which was saved, and Scott punched in the rebound.
"I've been playing my whole life. That is probably the biggest goal I've ever scored," Scott said. "I saw that Austin was in position to score and I just put myself in position for the ricochet and the ball popped out. It was just there and I was just there and I was in good position and ready for the ball."
Liberty improved to 17-3-1 and advanced to face Mason in a state semifinal Nov. 6. That was a rematch of a state semifinal last year, won 1-0 by the Patriots.
The semifinal winner plays Mentor or Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in the state final Saturday, Nov. 9, at Crew Stadium. Liberty did not play either team during the regular season.
"The postseason is awesome. The tournament is what we strive to win," Scott said. "We'll focus on whoever we play next and we're going to get the job done again."
Deep opened the scoring with 30:53 left in the first half. Coffman's Ben Kinney tied the game at 1 with 23:06 left in regulation.
Liberty's win also served as some measure of payback for a 1-0 loss at Coffman on Oct. 1 that cost the Patriots the OCC-Central Division championship. But according to Liberty coach Rick Collins, his team hit a new gear once the postseason began.
"The regular season is hard for some of these games to get them up because they're used to this kind of game and this kind of atmosphere," said Collins, whose team also defeated Hilliard Bradley 3-0 in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Gahanna. "Even when we played these guys in the regular season it was for the conference championship and neither team really played well. We weren't really sharp. We weren't motivated for some reason. Once the postseason hit we refocused and really got things going."
Junior goalkeeper Sam Nelson made six saves to extend Liberty's defensive dominance in the postseason. The Patriots had outscored five tournament opponents by a combined 17-1 before playing Mason.
"Defense has really been the story of our team," coach Collins said. "I just think that's really tightened things up for us."
League title highlight for Pioneers girls
Only nine days after winning the program's first OCC-Capital championship, the Orange girls team's season ended Oct. 17 with a 3-2, double-overtime loss to Marysville in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
"I am thrilled for this group of seniors that they get to leave that banner in the gym as their legacy," said coach Jen Odebrecht, whose team finished 11-6 overall and 6-0 in the league. "Our early exit from the tournament was gutting, but we have been on the other side of those tournament games so many times and this was just Marysville's year."
The Pioneers upset Marysville 1-0 in the second round of last year's district tournament, keying a run to a district final where they lost 4-1 to Coffman.
Orange, which had five seniors, started 4-3 but used winning streaks of three games in September and four games in October to win the OCC-Capital and earn the 11th seed in the district tournament.
Orange routed 37th-seeded Briggs 13-0 in a first-round home game Oct. 15 before losing to 12th-seeded Marysville.
The Pioneers won the league ahead of New Albany (4-2), Worthington Kilbourne (4-2), Olentangy (3-2-1), Big Walnut (1-4-1), Delaware (1-4-1) and Mount Vernon (0-5-1).
Senior forward Emily Burton scored a team-high 10 goals and was named OCC-Capital Player of the Year and second-team all-district. Senior forward Stephanie Lewis had six goals and four assists to solidify her lead on Orange's all-time scoring list. She ended her career with 39 goals.
Senior midfielder Sophie Level added three goals and 11 assists. She and Lewis were first-team all-league.
Junior goalkeeper Mackenzie Brunke, junior defender Natalie Miller and junior midfielder Alexis Simon were named second-team all-league. Freshman defender Kylie McCue was special mention and junior midfielder Emily Beaver was honorable mention.
Odebrecht, the OCC-Capital Coach of the Year, missed the final month of the season after giving birth to her first child. Assistant Jessica Witzky served as interim coach.
Braves girls closed season on strong run
According to Olentangy girls coach Megan Kirsten, a few small things helped spark a postseason run that took the Braves to a Division I district semifinal despite a sub-.500 record.
"The past couple games, we just started winning balls in the air," Kirsten said during Olentangy's tournament run, which ended with a 2-0 loss at third-seeded Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 22. "It's a new thing and it really helps to have that one person in the middle who can do that. (Sophomore midfielder) Kaylin Jankowski in the air has been awesome and it made such a difference in our offensive attack."
The Braves, who finished 6-9-3, were seeded 19th in the tournament and opened with a 6-0 home win over 32nd-seeded Mount Vernon on Oct. 14. Olentangy then upset 15th-seeded Pickerington Central 3-1 on Oct. 17 before visiting Davidson.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kelsey Hill made 12 saves against the Wildcats, who scored both their goals in the second half.
Junior forward Payton Naylor and junior midfielder Abbey Schwing tied for the team lead in goals with seven. Junior forward Morgan McCullough added five, and 10 other Braves scored at least once.
Naylor and junior defender Cassidy Marino were named first-team all-league. Hill made the second team, junior defender Alana Poff was special mention and Jankowski was honorable mention.