Westerville South boys not yet at full strength
Westerville South High School boys soccer coach Aaron Linden wasn't too concerned about his team's two ties to open the season.
Linden, who is in his second season, hopes once the Wildcats return to full strength, they will challenge for the OCC-Cardinal Division title.
South tied Worthington Christian at 3 on Aug. 21 and Upper Arlington at 1 on Aug. 25.
"It's never good to get a tie, but it's better than a loss," Linden said. "I'd like to get some Ws, but we're playing well. We're getting there. We're still missing some key guys, so as soon as we get them back we should be right where we need to be."
South played its first two games without seniors Mohamed Banow (defender/midfielder) and Nazir Abdou (defender), who both missed the games because of Ramadan and family commitments.
"It's their religion, you can't forget that," Linden said. "I respect it and I've learned about it. I have so much culture on this team, it's great."
Senior Richard Dahome (midfielder/forward) sat out the first two games with a hamstring injury.
Junior forward Josh McErlean scored two goals and senior defender/midfielder Henry Kunze had the other against Worthington Christian, which won the Division III state title last season by defeating Gates Mills Hawken 2-0 in the final.
Senior goalkeeper Matt Doolittle, who replaced 2012 graduate Ryan McLaughlin, made two saves.
After serving as a backup last season, Doolittle is looking forward to handling the starting duties this season.
"I understood my role last season that Ryan was a better keeper and he deserved to be on the field," Doolittle said. "I'm pretty happy with the way we're going. We're moving forward, getting better every day."
McLaughlin is a freshman goalie at the College of Charleston in South Carolina.
McErlean was a leader offensively through two games, as he also scored South's goal against UA. He opened the scoring in the first half, with the host's Juan Barros scoring later in the half.
Doolittle made five saves.
"The ties are a little frustrating," McErlean said. "We're a better team in both case scenarios and we can for sure improve. We're doing fine as it is and just having these other players (return) is going to make us even better."
The Wildcats, who opened league play against Worthington Kilbourne on Aug. 28, play host to Gahanna on Thursday, Aug. 30.
"We have a good team," Linden said. "The sky is the limit if we just keep playing with passion and heart. We're learning a lot about the team right now and guys are stepping up in some positions and earning some playing time down the road."
Central defeats Raiders, Cardinals
The Central boys team opened with two wins, defeating Reynoldsburg 5-0 on Aug. 18 and St. Charles 1-0 on Aug. 21.
Senior midfielder Tyler Bertelsen scored against St. Charles.
The Warhawks lost to Dublin Coffman 1-0 on Aug. 23. The Shamrocks played in a Division I regional final last season, losing to Olentangy Liberty 3-1.
Senior goalie Griffen Gordon had 16 saves in the first three games.
"I like getting two wins by shutout early in the season," coach Dave Pence said. "The defense is playing well. I'm very happy with the team play and the willingness of players to move to different positions due to injuries. This team can be special this year. They work and play very hard for each other. All the players put team before self."
North loses two of first three games
North opened by losing two of its first three games, with the win coming against Canal Winchester 2-1 on Aug. 18.
The Warriors lost to Reynoldsburg 3-1 on Aug. 21 and Centerville 3-1 on Aug. 25.
"We won a hard fought game at Canal Winchester and then lost a heartbreaker at Reynoldsburg after taking an early lead," coach Mark Price said. "Although that is a game that we would like to have back, we can use it as motivation to train harder and to get better."