Alec Simko of the Upper Arlington High School boys soccer team knew his chances of competing for a starting spot at goalkeeper would take time.

Alec Simko of the Upper Arlington High School boys soccer team knew his chances of competing for a starting spot at goalkeeper would take time.

The senior's play in his first season as the starting goalie is a big reason why the Golden Bears were 3-0 overall before opening OCC-Central Division play Aug. 30 against defending champion Thomas Worthington.

"I've been playing behind some really great goalkeepers and they've taught me a lot, so it's great to get the opportunity to show what I can do," Simko said. "We've got a really good defense this year with a lot of seniors back there."

UA was allowing an average of 1.3 goals through three games.

"Alec has come up with some key saves, especially in that first game against Westerville South (a 3-1 win on Aug. 20)," coach Carlos Bonilla said. "But the way things go in soccer, you can be a hero one day and get the blame the next."

Although Simko began the season as the starting goalkeeper, junior Josh Jackson also will get an opportunity to play in goal, Bonilla said. Jackson, who had been out with a hand injury, played in the second half of a 3-1 victory over Huber Heights Wayne on Aug. 27.

"I like the competition because it only makes you a better player," Simko said. "I know last year I thought I was going to get a chance to start, but it didn't work out."

Alex Verlage, a 2011 graduate who moved into the school district from Mexico last year, earned the starting job last season and split time with Alex Clark, who also graduated last spring.

When Simko was a sophomore, he played behind 2010 graduate Drew Sandbo, who was a first-team all-league player in 2009.

"Alec has been very consistent, but I know we have two pretty good goalkeepers," senior defender Noah Grumman said. "We'll have to see what happens. We really have a great senior class of guys who are coming together."

Bonilla has been impressed with his lineup so far.

"You want to keep the momentum going and Alec hasn't done anything to be benched," he said. "But our guys trust both goalkeepers. Last year, we didn't settle on a permanent starter until midseason."

The Bears were averaging 4.0 goals through three games. They defeated Pickerington North 6-2 on Aug. 25.

Against Huber Heights and North, UA trailed 1-0.

"We've been using a new system that involves a lot of passing, so we're trying not to hold on to the ball for so long," Simko said. "We've got a lot of great leadership out there on the field right now."

After playing its first five games on the road, UA makes its home debut Tuesday, Sept. 6, against Worthington Kilbourne in OCC-Central play.

The Bears are looking to improve on last year's finish in the league, when they went 3-3-1 to place fifth behind Thomas (7-0), Hilliard Darby (4-1-2), Kilbourne (4-3-0) and Dublin Coffman (3-2-2) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (2-2-3), Westland (0-6-1) and Central Crossing (0-6-1).

"How we do in these first two (league games against Thomas and Kilbourne) is going to say a lot about our chances," Bonilla said. "We just need to continue doing the same things we've been doing."