When Mallory Loless was younger, she was torn between competing in soccer or gymnastics.

When Mallory Loless was younger, she was torn between competing in soccer or gymnastics.

When she was 5, she chose soccer, and that decision has paid off handsomely for the Westland High School senior.

"I loved the sport ever since," Loless said.

Loless is a fourth-year starter for the Cougars, and is expected to be one of the team's leaders. Though Westland is off to a slow start, the midfielder was a bright spot in as the Cougars were 0-4 before their game against Teays Valley last Saturday.

Westland will return to action Tuesday when it faces another OCC-Central Division test at Dublin Coffman. The Cougars were outscored 21-5 in their first four games, including a 10-0 loss at home to Hilliard Davidson last Tuesday.

"It seems like when we get one goal scored on us our team just lets down," Loless said. "We have to keep our heads up. We have a lot of heart, but it is frustrating as a player. We practice hard and we try to do everything right. We have to keep working hard and try to come out with some wins."

"Davidson is a good, solid team," coach Pat Ellis said. "They have a lot of players who have been playing for many years. They're one of the teams that we face. Giving the realignment in the OCC, several of these teams that we're going to face are going to be of that caliber."

Despite the lopsided outcome, Loless displayed hustle and desire throughout the game, heading up Westland's charges to the offensive end.

"My captains, they don't quit," Ellis said. "Between Mallory, (Amanda Snyder, Megan Hogan and Hailee Johnson), they're the heart of the team. They pick the team up and carry them on their shoulders. They just won't quit, they get after everything."

Loless scored one of her team's goals in a 5-2 opening loss to Ready on Aug. 19.

Last season, Loless tied graduate Adriana Padilla for second on the team in goals with 10 behind Johnson with 11. With Loless playing a key role, Westland finished with its first winning season (8-6-2) under Ellis. She earned honorable mention all-OCC-Ohio.

Loless plays the sport year-round as she is also a member of the Grove City Youth Soccer Association, playing indoors during the winter and on a club team in the spring. She has been with that association since selecting soccer over gymnastics.

Loless is looking forward to the regular-season finale Oct. 7 against Central Crossing, a new rival in the OCC-Central. Loless will be competing against several teammates from her Grove City club team.

"This year I think we're going to be pretty evenly matched," Loless said. "Some of the girls there play on my team. I think we can do really well against them."

Loless would love to play the sport at the college level and plans on beginning to contact coaches soon with the help of her coaches.

"Mallory has a lot of skills and she has been playing for a long time," Ellis said. "She is what this team needs more of. Players who come in here with five, six, seven years of experience as opposed to not playing before and just want to try something new.

"She's a very good kid off the field. She's a leader both in the school and to her teammates."