Over the next two weeks, the Upper Arlington High School boys soccer team will not only see if it can earn an OCC-Central Division championship, but also find out how its talent stacks up against the top teams in the state.

Over the next two weeks, the Upper Arlington High School boys soccer team will not only see if it can earn an OCC-Central Division championship, but also find out how its talent stacks up against the top teams in the state.

The games couldn't be any bigger, and they began last Tuesday against Olentangy Orange, which was ranked eighth in the Division I state poll.

Four of the Golden Bears final six opponents are ranked in the state, including second-ranked Gahanna, which UA faces on the road Saturday.

"Every game is going to be a challenge, and we're simply going to have to play well," said coach Curt Bixel, whose team was 6-3-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the league before last Tuesday. "Gahanna is strong across the board, and they've got two forwards who are not only skilled, but fast and that will make it tough."

Bixel is talking about the Lions' leading goal-scorers in junior forwards Wil Trapp and Chris Davis.

With three-year starter Ryan Grimme in goal, Gahanna had allowed just one goal before last Tuesday's game against visiting Worthington Kilbourne.

At 9-0, the Lions had outscored opponents 34-1.

"They're just an all-around team," UA forward Daniel Palmer said. "We've just got to come together in these last games heading into the tournament. But this is nothing new for us. Coach Bixel always puts together a tough schedule because he knows it makes us better."

UA defeated Gahanna 1-0 in a shootout in a district semifinal last season avenging a 1-0 loss to the Lions during the regular season. The 11-7-2 season ended with a 1-0 loss to Worthington Kilbourne in a regional final.

Tuesday's game at Hilliard Davidson, which was 8-1-1 and 2-0 before last Tuesday, will likely decide the league title.

The Golden Bears won the program's first district title with a 2-0 victory over Davidson a year ago. UA also won the regular-season meeting 3-1 when it finished second in the league at 5-1-1 behind champion Kilbourne (7-0).

"Davidson is one of our biggest rivals so I imagine they're going to be pretty mad after last year," said Palmer, UA's leading scorer with 10 goals before last Tuesday.

UA had won three in a row before the 2-0 loss to Westerville Central on Sept. 24.

Bixel has been searching for the perfect lineup to go up against the string of tough opponents.

"At the start of the season, we were really working things around, but we've kind of settled everything into place," he said. "These games are really going to show if it's working."

The Golden Bears face DeSales, the No. 1 team in Division II, on Oct. 10. UA won 1-0 last season.

Following its final league contest with Dublin Coffman on Oct. 7, UA will be host to host Beavercreek, which was ranked seventh in the state in Division I. The Beavers won 3-2 last year.

"Our schedule can really hurt us when it comes to seeding for the tournament," Bixel said. "A lot of coaches look at records and don't look at opponents. Last year, we were seeded 10th."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the Upper Arlington boys and girls soccer teams:

BOYS

Sept. 22 -- Defeated Newark 8-0. Ian Andrew scored three times. Joe Adams, Mike Brienza, Daniel Palmer, Payne and Huber also scored

Sept. 24 --- Lost to Westerville Central 2-0

Last Tuesday -- Played Olentangy Orange

Saturday -- At Gahanna. The Lions were 9-0 overall and ranked second in last Monday's Division I state poll before playing Worthington Kilbourne last Tuesday.

*Tuesday -- At Hilliard Davidson. The Wildcats were 8-1-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Dublin Coffman last Tuesday.

Of note: The Golden Bears were 6-3-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the OCC-Central Division before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

Sept. 22 -- Def. Newark 6-0

Last Saturday -- Played Rocky River Magnificat to a scoreless tie

Last Tuesday -- Played Olentangy Orange

Saturday -- Home vs. Pickerington Central. The Tigers were 3-6-1 overall before playing Newark last Tuesday.

*Tuesday -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson. The Wildcats were 7-3-1 overall and 1-0-1 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Dublin Coffman last Tuesday.

Of note: The Golden Bears were 9-1-1 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division before last Tuesday. They were ranked fifth in last Monday's Division I state poll.

*OCC-Central game