After winning only one game and scoring a total of nine goals last season, Westerville South High School girls soccer coach Brandi Tanler was hoping her team would get off to a good start this season.

After winning only one game and scoring a total of nine goals last season, Westerville South High School girls soccer coach Brandi Tanler was hoping her team would get off to a good start this season.

The Wildcats opened with a 1-0 win over Olentangy Orange on Aug. 20 but lost 5-0 to Gahanna on Aug. 25 and 4-0 to Grove City on Aug. 27.

"It's always a boost of confidence," Tanler said of the win over Orange, "but it's very early, so it's hard to tell (whether this season will be better than last season)."

Last season, the Wildcats finished 1-16 overall, beating Centennial 3-0 in their second-to-last game. They were shut out 10 times.

Against Orange, sophomore midfielder Sara Stiles scored her first varsity goal in the first half. Sophomore midfielder Samantha Roth had an assist and sophomore goalkeeper Cara Calland had four saves.

"Everybody was really excited," Stiles said. "We were all happy because we finally got a goal and we finally won."

Calland had 17 saves against Grove City. South trailed 1-0 at the half, but Grove City took advantage of defensive breakdowns to score three goals in the second half.

"I know we're going to do better," Stiles said. "We're going through a rough patch already, but we're going to do better and we're going to be a lot better than last year."

To help generate offense, Tanler has tried different lineup combinations. Among the changes was moving junior Stephanie Redd, who usually plays defense, to forward.

The move helped in the second half against Grove City, as South had good scoring opportunities, including a shot by sophomore forward Mikaela Couch that was stopped by Grove City goalkeeper Gabby Rodriguez and Redd's rebound attempt that went just wide of the net.

"Offensively, we need to put goals in the back of the net," Tanler said. "We're getting there, we just need to get some power up top. We have to take advantage of the chances we get. We had two wide open looks and missed, so we have to take advantage of the ones we do get."

•The South boys team lost its opener, falling 3-1 to Upper Arlington on Aug. 20, but bounced back to win its next two games, beating Bexley 3-0 on Aug. 24 and Clayton Northmont 3-0 on Aug. 27.

First-year coach Aaron Linden expected an adjustment period for the Wildcats as they get acclimated to a new system, but he has been pleased with their progress.

"We're starting to figure it out," Linden said. "We're getting our heads on right."

Against UA, South allowed three goals in the first 15 minutes but settled down defensively and held the Golden Bears scoreless in the second half.

Sophomore forward Josh McErlean had two goals against Bexley, and McErlean, junior forward Nick Davis and junior midfielder Omar Mohamed each scored one against Northmont.

"We're starting to get better every game," Mohamed said. "We're working hard. UA was a good team and it was our first game."

Senior goalkeeper Ryan McLaughlin had four saves against Northmont, including a stop against Cody Pahren on a penalty kick in the second half to preserve a 1-0 lead for the Wildcats.

"Our energy got back up," Linden said of McLaughlin's save. "I have all the faith in the world with Ryan back there. He's one of the top keepers in the country."

Junior midfielder David Anane, a transfer from Northland, has been added to the team and should provide scoring punch. Anane missed the first two games, awaiting the OHSAA to approve his eligibility.