Olentangy Orange High School girls soccer coach Jim Daugherty ushered his assistant coaches back and forth, demonstrating proper placement for certain formations.
The Pioneers paid plenty of attention after a 1-0 season-opening loss to visiting Westerville Central on Aug. 16, trying to soak in every bit of the lessons their first-year coach was teaching.
"We just took a little bit too long to get organized," Daugherty said. "We had some difficulties adjusting to how (Central) played. It took us a little bit longer than I hoped it would. I just told them it's not basketball. I can't call timeout and explain how we have to adjust. The beauty, and also the unfortunate part, of soccer is they have to figure it out for themselves."
At the same time, Daugherty is prepared for this season to be a learning process. If the Pioneers can repeat as OCC-Capital Division champions, all the better.
Ten seniors, including midfielders Emily Beaver, Taylor Momburg and Alexis Simon, goalkeeper Mackenzie Brunke and defender Natalie Miller, return from last year's team that went 11-6 overall and 6-0 in the league to win the program's first league title.
Daugherty replaced Jen Odebrecht, who had coached the program since the school opened in 2008 but resigned in November 2013 for family reasons. Coincidentally, it was Daugherty's previous team, Marysville, that upset Orange 3-2 in double overtime in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Daugherty coached the Monarchs for two seasons.
"It's been a challenging summer, getting to know them (and) getting to know what each of them brings, what makes them most comfortable and just bringing everyone together," Daugherty said. "I want us to go from defense to offense quicker. They do a decent job of transitioning at times, but everything is really short passes. I want them to think bigger. Sometimes you have to play a longer pass."
Against Central, Brunke split time in goal with sophomore Katie Luce. Brunke made five saves in the first half, and Luce added three in the second.
Momburg and Simon were joined in the starting lineup by senior defenders Amy Luce and Diandra Walker, senior forward Alicia Van Hoose, junior midfielder Katie Calvert, sophomore midfielder Alaina Foy, sophomore forward Mikaela Neill, sophomore defender Tiere Richardson and freshman forward Delaney Earl.
"Whoever shows me they can create chances for themselves or create chances for others (will) get more playing time," Daugherty said. "Whoever is dangerous is going to play."
The rest of the roster consists of senior defender Gabrielle Hopkins, senior forward Abbigail Simonds, junior defender Lexie Chaffin, junior midfielder Courtney Swisher, junior forward Natalie Toomajian and sophomore midfielder Bailey Hurley.
Orange begins league play Tuesday, Aug. 26, at New Albany.
Patriots eager to improve
Liberty coach Lisa Saiben makes no bones about the level of expectations in the program, especially given that the Patriots return several key pieces from last year's Division I district runner-up team.
"We have established what the norm is in this program the past four years, and we expect to be successful," said Saiben, whose fourth season began Aug. 19 at Westerville North. "We're excited. We have a solid core group, and we have more depth than we've ever had. That could change once the season gets going, but we think those players are going to help us, too."
The Patriots went 11-3-5 overall and 4-2-1 in the OCC-Central last year. They lost to Watterson 1-0 in a district final.
Senior forward Natalie Flahive, a University of Dayton recruit, had 20 goals and 10 assists to lead Liberty and earn second-team all-state. Senior midfielder Emma Ranalli added four goals and eight assists.
Among the Patriots' other top returnees are senior defender Katie Best, who is a University of North Carolina-Wilmington recruit, senior goalie Miranda Kuhns, who has committed to Findlay, and junior defender Emma Waters.
"So many of our girls are just stronger and smarter than they were last year," Saiben said. "Natalie will be the spark for our attack in most situations. I think Katie can surprise some people. A lot of these girls play high-level soccer, and all of their work shows."
Liberty's home and league opener is Tuesday, Aug. 26, against Central Crossing.
The rest of the roster consists of senior defenders Hayley Hickman and Ashley Tawney, senior forward/midfielders Katie Kill and Kylie Slusser, senior midfielders Jessica Pickard and Kalen Weissinger, junior forward/midfielders Jordan Fike, Lexy Fisher and Hailey Pickelheimer, sophomore goalie Emma Campbell, sophomore forward/midfielders Mackenzie Coyne, Sarina Dirrig and Abby Summers, sophomore midfielder/defender Emma Koshan, freshman midfielder/defender Natalie Amodeo and freshman defender Olivia Sensky.
Veteran roster encourages Braves
With every starter returning from last year's 6-9-3 team, second-year Olentangy coach Megan Kirsten hopes the Braves can build on the momentum that carried them to a Division I district semifinal.
"Our team motto this year is 'Win the Day,' " Kirsten said. "With this attitude, the girls will accomplish more and be competitive at practice. I expect the girls to establish themselves as a respectable opponent to whoever they play. ... The girls must be willing to put in the extra effort, and be open to new things."
Senior midfielders Payton Naylor and Abbey Schwing each had 10 goals last year to power the Braves, who were 3-2-1 in the OCC-Capital. They were among 13 players who tallied at least one goal.
Naylor was named first-team all-league and third-team all-district. Senior defender Cassidy Marino was first-team all-league and second-team all-district.
Olentangy opens Thursday, Aug. 21, at Thomas Worthington. The Braves' home opener is Saturday, Aug. 23, against Watterson, and their league opener is Tuesday, Aug. 26, at home against Big Walnut.
The rest of the roster consists of senior defender Amanda Brewer, senior forward/midfielders Hayley McCullough and Morgan McCullough, senior forward Jenna Metres, senior midfielder Alana Poff, senior backup goalie Alex Russell, senior defenders Rachel Renz and Lauren Scott, junior midfielders Maddy Bull, Stephanie Burzynski and Kaylin Jankowski, junior defender Marissa Eau Claire, junior starting goalie Kelsey Hill, junior midfielder Abby Miller, sophomore defenders Paige Renz and Erin Wilt and sophomore midfielder/defender Julia Scott.
According to Kirsten, sophomore defender Danielle DiMarzo, sophomore midfielder/defender Sarah Markel, sophomore midfielders Alexa Ustaszewski and Emerson Woerner and freshman midfielder Maddy Lorris will rotate between varsity and junior varsity.
Aug. 19 -- at Westerville North
Aug. 21 -- at Worthington Christian
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Central Crossing
Aug. 28 -- vs. Pickerington North
*Sept. 2 -- at Upper Arlington
Sept. 4 -- vs. Watterson
*Sept. 9 -- at Marysville
Sept. 13 -- at Orange
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Westland
Sept. 18 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 23 -- at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 25 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 30 -- at Dublin Coffman
Oct. 2 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
Oct. 9 -- vs. Olentangy
Aug. 21 -- at Thomas Worthington
Aug. 23 -- vs. Watterson
*Aug. 26 -- vs. Big Walnut
Aug. 28 -- vs. Marysville
Aug. 30 -- at Grove City
*Sept. 2 -- at Orange
Sept. 4 -- at Westerville South
Sept. 11 -- at Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 13 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 16 -- vs. New Albany
Sept. 18 -- at Westerville Central
*Sept. 23 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Mount Vernon
Oct. 2 -- at Canal Winchester
*Oct. 7 -- at Delaware
Oct. 9 -- at Liberty
Aug. 16 -- vs. Westerville Central
Aug. 21 -- vs. Watterson
Aug. 23 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Aug. 26 -- at New Albany
Aug. 30 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Olentangy
Sept. 6 -- at Walsh Jesuit
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Mount Vernon
Sept. 13 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 16 -- at Delaware
Sept. 23 -- vs. Franklin Heights
Sept. 27 -- at Upper Arlington
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Big Walnut
Oct. 4 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Oct. 7 -- at Worthington Kilbourne