The Pickerington High School North and Dublin Jerome girls soccer teams sent a flurry of balls east and west in front of the goals during their Division I district final Oct. 26 at Westerville North.

The Pickerington High School North and Dublin Jerome girls soccer teams sent a flurry of balls east and west in front of the goals during their Division I district final Oct. 26 at Westerville North.

When Panthers senior forward Morgan Bittengle fired a shot directly at the net with just more than seven minutes to play in the second overtime, it couldn't get in fast enough.

"I was just hoping (the ball) would go in. It felt like it took forever to go in," she said. "I'm just really glad it did."

So were the second-seeded Panthers, who defeated seventh-seeded Jerome 2-1 for their second consecutive district championship and third in four years.

Bittengle gave North, which was 17-0-1 before playing Marysville in a regional semifinal Oct. 29, a first-half lead on a penalty kick. Jerome's Andrea Davidson scored the equalizer early in the second half.

"I thought we did a better job in that overtime than in the second half," coach Greg Van Kannel said. "We weren't very good in the second half. The first 10 minutes of the game weren't great, but we played better. And we came out in the overtimes a little better.

"We had so many balls go across the front and I was just waiting for one to hit the back of the net. (Bittengle's goal) was a nice little finish."

Bittengle, who entered the week with 21 goals, said Jerome's often-physical approach took North somewhat off guard.

"They were aggressive and we were aggressive," she said. "I think we lost our heads a little bit because they were coming at us so hard that we didn't want to get hurt."

Senior goalkeeper Hannah Wilson had seven saves.

The regional semifinal winner plays Hilliard Davidson or Watterson in a regional final at 3 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be determined. The regional champion advances to a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at a site to be determined against Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy, Cincinnati Walnut Hills, Loveland or Mason, with that winner qualifying for the state final Nov. 8 at Crew Stadium.

North did not play any of its potential regional final or state semifinal opponents during the regular season. The Panthers lost 1-0 to Mason in overtime in a state semifinal last year.

"We lost 15 seniors from that team and even early in this season, this team wasn't playing that great," said Van Kannel, whose team defeated 25th-seeded Hilliard Darby 5-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 22. "It's awesome to see how far they've come along. They've really grown as a team."

North boys losedistrict semifinal

For the third consecutive year, the North boys team's season ended against Olentangy Liberty.

Sophomore goalie Peyton Van Kannel made seven saves Oct. 23 as the 16th-seeded Panthers lost 6-0 at top-seeded Liberty in a Division I district semifinal. Liberty led 2-0 at halftime.

The Patriots also defeated North 4-0 in a district final last year en route to the state championship, and 6-1 in a semifinal in 2011.

North finished 9-6-4.

Underclassmen playedkey roles for Tigers

Central boys coach Brad Monhollen kept the big picture in mind throughout a season in which the Tigers had just five seniors.

Senior defender/midfielder Connor Napier scored a team-high five goals, and sophomore forward/midfielder Steven Bauers and junior midfielder Justin McDermott added four each for the Tigers, who finished 4-11-2 overall and 1-4-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division.

Central was seeded 32nd in the Division I district tournament and defeated 41st-seeded Central Crossing 1-0 in a first-round home game Oct. 16 before losing 7-0 at second-seeded Dublin Coffman on Oct. 21.

Bauers sustained a season-ending leg injury against Central Crossing. Even before that, however, Monhollen had been shuffling personnel to emphasize strong play in the midfield.

"We were struggling for a bit and we changed up our formation," Monhollen said. "The guys responded. We did it for the first time (in a 6-2 loss at Granville on Oct. 12) and it felt natural. ... We have to look at the big picture."

Sophomore forward Colton Castellon scored against Central Crossing off an assist from freshman forward/midfielder Dalton McElwain.

In addition to defeating the Comets, the Tigers' other wins were against Northland (3-2 on Aug. 19), Dublin Scioto (2-0 on Sept. 19) and Newark (1-0 on Sept. 24). Central scored a late goal to tie North at 1 on Sept. 9 and played Groveport to a 2-all tie Oct. 1.

The Tigers were sixth in the OCC-Ohio, behind Gahanna (7-0), Grove City (5-1-1), North (4-1-2), Reynoldsburg (4-3) and Lancaster (3-4) and ahead of Groveport (0-5-2) and Newark (0-6-1).

Napier was first-team all-league, junior goalie Collin Federer was on the second team, senior defender Brandon Sanchez was special mention and McDermott was honorable mention.