A demanding early schedule has the Olentangy Liberty High School boys lacrosse team rated as one of the top squads in the state.
According to Lax-Power.com's April 14 computer ratings, the Patriots were ranked fourth in Division I behind fellow OCC-Buckeye Division members Upper Arlington, Worthington Kilbourne and Dublin Jerome.
Liberty was 6-2 overall after defeating New Albany 7-6 on April 14 and 0-2 in the OCC-Buckeye, with the losses coming to UA (8-4 on April 9) and Kilbourne (12-8 on April 1).
The Patriots defeated 11th-ranked Hudson 9-2 on March 24.
"When I made our schedule in the fall, I wanted it to be the best and well-rounded," coach Jason Godwin said.
"So far it is proving to be all that. We have come out of the gate early in the season and gained a lot of attention. That's great, but we need to focus on each challenge one at a time and hold steady, but also continue to improve. It is great to hang with strong teams, but we need to beat them."
Senior attacker Mitchell Hughes scored twice against UA, and junior midfielder Nick Durtschi and junior attacker Drew Gouhin both had one goal. Junior goalkeeper Sean Murphy had 14 saves.
Against Kilbourne, Hughes had three goals and junior midfielder Sam Chickerella and Gouhin both scored twice. Senior midfielder Conner Bull had one goal and Murphy had seven saves.
"We know we can compete with the best," Godwin said. "We have learned that when playing our team game, we can beat anyone.
"We have learned to trust each other and just play our game. We have learned the importance of taking care of the ball between the boxes, helping our defense while on offense and capitalizing on our opponents' mistakes."
Pioneers win first four games
The Orange boys team was 5-0 overall after defeating Pickerington North 9-4 on April 14 and 1-0 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Dublin Scioto on April 16.
"We have a large senior class with a lot of varsity experience," coach Will Mathes said. "When you have veteran players who understand the game, they can adapt to different situations and play fast."
The Pioneers opened their league schedule by defeating Gahanna 20-3 on April 9. Senior midfielder Alex Menzo scored seven times and junior attacker Nick Cannon had four goals. Senior attacker Ashton Onesko had three goals and junior midfielder Brett Schutte scored twice. Senior midfielder Justin Gels, senior midfielder Andrew Peura, sophomore midfielder Tyler Lichter and sophomore attacker Adam Rieger scored one goal apiece and senior goalie Robert McHale had one save.
"We need to be more decisive on the defensive end of the field," Mathes said.
"We have a lot of talent on our defense, but we play reluctant at times and that has led to scoring opportunities for our opponents. We have given up an average of seven goals per game (through four games) and that is a number that needs to improve."
Braves out to strong start
The Olentangy boys team was 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Jerome on April 16.
The only loss for the Braves, who were ranked eighth in the LaxPower.com Division I poll, was to sixth-ranked Solon 6-5 on April 5.
"One-goal games are character-building experiences," coach Zach Peterson said. "Our players are learning that we need to continue to execute our game plan regardless of the situation. I'm thankful for the strength of our schedule and that it allows our team the opportunity to play under pressure situations. That's the best preparation for the postseason."
Olentangy opened league play April 2 with an 11-4 win over Thomas Worthington. Junior midfielder Caelan Laughlin scored five goals and junior attacker Cliff Kigar had three. Senior midfielder Zach Potter scored twice and junior midfielder Blake Bower scored once. Senior goalie Cole Palmby had six saves.
The Braves also beat Hilliard Davidson 11-3 in a league game April 9.