The Reynoldsburg High School girls soccer team peppered Licking Valley goalkeepers with 45 shots in a 5-0 victory Aug. 25, a sight that Raiders coach Dana Ortman was thrilled to see.

The Reynoldsburg High School girls soccer team peppered Licking Valley goalkeepers with 45 shots in a 5-0 victory Aug. 25, a sight that Raiders coach Dana Ortman was thrilled to see.

"It was nice to get some confidence back and get a victory," said Ortman, whose team lost its opener 3-1 at Delaware on Aug. 23. "Our first game was 0-0 at the half and Delaware came out (in the second half) and blitzed us with a couple quick goals. They wore us down. And even though Licking Valley is a smaller school with a smaller team, it was good for us to go out and play strong."

The confidence should help with OCC-Ohio Division play beginning this week.

The Raiders entered the week 1-1. Their home opener was Aug. 30 against Grove City in a league game, with another home game Saturday, Sept. 3, against Dayton Stivers.

Sophomore Katie Broehm, a second-team all-league player last year, scored three goals against Licking Valley after having the team's only goal against Delaware. But Ortman was especially pleased with the effort of sophomore defender Kelsey Johnson, who is becoming more comfortable in the offense despite her position.

"By far she's the most improved player on the team," Raiders assistant coach Matt Evans said before the season. "She could be one of the best in the conference."

The Raiders are so high on Johnson because she increasingly has become willing to take chances. Playing in the center of the defense, Johnson isn't afraid to come up and lead an offensive charge.

"It's all about confidence," said Johnson, who was given the nickname "Magic" last season to distinguish her from two teammates with the same first name. "You have to have confidence to take on an extra player. I can see a lot of girls on the team becoming more confident."

If there's a deep kick to be taken, Ortman gives Johnson that responsibility.

"She's been firing some shots from 40 yards and they weren't missing by much," Ortman said. "She's a physical player and she has no fear. If there's a hole in the opposing defense, she's going to go for it. It takes a lot of confidence to come up the field from her defensive position. She doesn't want to leave a hole in the defense, but her teammates trust her and she trusts them."

Even as an underclassman, Johnson considers herself a team leader as well as a mentor.

"In scrimmages early on, we had a lot of issues with what positions girls were playing," she said. "I just tried to help teach girls what they were supposed to do in certain situations. Or if we got scored on, I'd explain what happened. It's just about going step-by-step and understanding things."

The younger classes will be depended on even more because the Raiders will be playing the near future with only one senior, defender Sara Rutherford. The team's other senior, defender Aleia Lewis, recently moved to Chicago.

"We're going to feel that loss," Ortman said. "This young group is solid. We've seen that so far. But it's tough to compete against players who mostly are two and three years older."

The Raiders will see plenty of those teams in the coming weeks.

"We're getting seven and eight girls who are comfortable taking shots," Ortman said. "That's a good thing because that league's coming right at us."