Central girls mount consistent threats
They didn't score double-digit goals as in earlier games, but Pickerington High School Central girls soccer players felt like their 2-0 win at Reynoldsburg on Sept. 3 followed the basic script of this season.
The Tigers were able to pressure the Raiders from the start, mounting consistent threats and punching through with two first-half goals before letting the defense keep their OCC-Ohio Division rivals at bay.
None of that was a surprise to coach Jillian Walters, whose team was 4-2-1 overall and 2-1 in the league after losing to Pickerington North 7-2 on Sept. 9. The Tigers entered the week having fielded a different starting lineup in every game.
"It's very pretty soccer to watch, and I'm proud of them for that," Walters said. "At any given minute, I have 11 really talented players on the field and nine or 10 who are sitting on the bench through no fault of their own. I tell them every training session that it's all about competition."
Central returned six starters and its top scorer from 2012 in sophomore forward Aisha Suhaiba. She had five goals through six games, second to senior forward Samantha Oberdorf's six, as 16 players had scored at least once.
Those numbers included two lopsided wins, 14-0 over Northland in the opener Aug. 19 and 12-2 over Mogadore Field on Aug. 31. Central also had six goals Aug. 27 in a shutout win over Lancaster in its OCC-Ohio opener, five days after being held scoreless in a tie with Canal Winchester.
The Tigers' first loss was 1-0 at Upper Arlington on Sept. 5.
"Our center-(midfielders) had to figure out how to get the ball offensively, and since (that happened) we've gotten way more goals up top," said Oberdorf, a two-year starter. "It's been more us working with the outside wings and the center-mids getting us the ball then usually crossing in."
Also figuring prominently in the offense have been senior forward Hannah Robson and midfielders Darby Burch, Steph Murray and Lea Reynolds. Burch is a senior, and Murray and Reynolds are juniors. Oberdorf lauded teammate Megan Davis, a junior defender, for her prowess on corner kicks.
"She has really nice corner kicks," Oberdorf said. "That's been to our advantage. Especially on corner kicks, we've had a lot of movement off the ball."
The Tigers had allowed three goals through six games with sophomore Jaelyn Cunningham in goal. Senior Lisa Slattery also has played goalie but primarily is a midfielder, where seniors Rachel Koch and Casidy Simonis, junior Taylor Johnson and sophomore Rachel VanBramer also have contributed.
"She's phenomenal at distributing the ball," Walters said of Slattery. "The most exciting thing for a coach is to watch what we do in training, then the next day you see them carry that onto the field into a game. You see them continuously developing. They're like sponges right now."