Reynoldsburg High School girls soccer coach Johnny Ulry can sum up his team's season in just one phrase: roller- coaster.

Reynoldsburg High School girls soccer coach Johnny Ulry can sum up his team's season in just one phrase: roller- coaster.

It's been that kind of season for Reynoldsburg, which came into the 2009 campaign with high expectations despite the loss of its longtime coach and dwindling numbers in its athletic programs caused by a hefty hike to the school's participation fee.

The Raiders were 3-4-2 overall and 0-1-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing league-foe Groveport last Tuesday.

"We're one of those teams that when we play the really good teams, we step up our play," Ulry said. "But when we play teams that aren't as good, we play down to that level."

The first-year coach points to a Sept. 22 game against Lancaster as a perfect example. Despite controlling the game and keeping the ball on the Golden Gales' side of the field for most of the contest, the Raiders had to rally with five minutes left to forge a tie. The lone Reynoldsburg goal came off the foot of forward Taylor Jennings-Sargent, who has been the Raiders' top offensive threat this season with three goals.

"We missed nine breakaways, completely dominated the game and outshot them," Ulry said. "It's very frustrating."

The Raiders had reasons for high expectations this season as the team was coming off its first winning season in five years, a 12-win season.

But then came the triple whammy. First, the school's 15.6-mill operating levy failed. Then the district was forced to raise participation fees from $30 last season to $500. Finally, coach Mark Wise stepped down early in the summer to take a coaching job at Upper Arlington.

That opened to door for Ulry, who brought with him a different style of play -- a style with which he said his players have, at times, struggled to adapt.

"The midfield play, it's a lot of work on them, a lot of running," Ulry said. "They're trying to get better at positioning, making better passes and decisions. But they're playing a new style this year that they're all trying to get used to. It's very hard to do what I'm asking them to do -- playing a style of soccer they've never played."

Despite the record, it's not all gloom and doom, Ulry said.

"The bright spot is the girls are getting better every time," he said. "We want to get better as a unit. They're always pushing themselves. They take losing personally, especially when we lose to teams we shouldn't lose to. The biggest bright spot is knowing this a team that wants to get better, wants to learn, wants to be with those teams at the top of rankings."

Not all of the lofty preseason goals have been abandoned. The main goal -- to maintain a high grade-point average -- is well within reach, but Ulry isn't ready to give up on his other goals just yet.

"We haven't gotten to the tournament yet, but with some luck on our side we still can make a tournament run," Ulry said. "We want to finish in the top half of our conference, that's where we're aiming at now. To end up in the top three is very achievable."

First and foremost to Ulry is building a sustainable girls program for the future, something he hopes to foster in the young players who are just entering the program at the lower levels.

On Saturday, Ulry will be holding a "Future Raider" day during the team's game against Marysville, in which the junior varsity players will get to sit on the bench with the varsity players during the game and get the feel for what it takes to compete at that level.

"I'm ready to build the program," Ulry said. "We've got a lot of younger players and we are in the midst of getting this program to where it's going to be competitive in the future."

At a glance

The following are recent results and coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg boys and girls soccer teams:

BOYS

*Sept. 22 -- Tied Lancaster at 1. Jason Watkins had three saves. Ray Ring scored a goal.

Sept. 24 -- Lost to Watkins Memorial 3-1. Trevor Flowers scored.

Last Saturday -- Lost to Fairmont 3-0

*Last Tuesday -- Played Groveport

Today -- Home vs. Hilliard Brad-ley

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Gahanna

Thursday -- Home vs. St. Charles

Of note: The Raiders were 1-6-3 overall and 1-1-1 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Sept. 22 -- Tied Lancaster at 1. Taylor Jennings-Sargent scored. Aleia Lewis had four saves.

Last Saturday -- Def. Marietta 2-0

*Last Tuesday -- Played Groveport

Saturday -- Home vs. Marysville

*Tuesday -- At Gahanna

Of note: The Raiders were 3-4-2 overall and 0-1-2 in the OCC-Ohio before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Ohio game