Westerville Central High School boys soccer coach Dave Pence believes his team's challenging schedule during the regular season has prepared it for the Division I district tournament.
The Warhawks were 6-2-6 overall and 3-1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Jerome on Oct. 8.
Central remained in the league title chase, trailing Hilliard Bradley (4-0-2) and Canal Winchester (4-1-1).
"Every year (athletics director) Andy Ey asks, 'Who do you want to play?' And I say, 'We'll play anybody,'" Pence said. "Some of the best soccer in the state is in central Ohio. We'll play against anybody and that's what prepares us (and) makes us a better team at the end of the season."
Central is seeded ninth for the district tournament and plays host to 36th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley in the first round Wednesday, Oct. 16. If the Warhawks win, they will play host to 33rd-seeded Hamilton Township on Oct. 19.
Before playing Jerome, Central had not lost since a 2-1 setback against Canal Winchester on Sept. 3. The Warhawks were 4-0-6 in that span.
Central played defending Division I state champion Olentangy Liberty to a scoreless tie Sept. 26 at home. Goalkeeper Jeremy Shown had seven saves.
Last week, Liberty was first in the Division I district poll and fourth in the state poll behind top-ranked Mason. The Warhawks were eighth in the district poll.
Central played Gahanna to a scoreless tie Sept. 5, tied Bradley at 2 on Sept. 10 and played New Albany to a scoreless tie Sept. 28.
Bradley was second, Gahanna was third and New Albany was seventh in the district poll, and Bradley was ninth in the state.
"Obviously you'd rather get a win than a tie, but when you're playing a quality team like Liberty or Gahanna that are perennial powerhouses, both those games we were happy with a tie," Pence said. "It would have been better to get the win, but the most important thing to us is that we compete and that we play well and give ourselves a chance to win."
The Warhawks defeated Hilliard Darby 2-0 on Oct. 1 and Worthington Kilbourne 2-1 on Oct. 3.
Against Darby, forwards Chewy Gordon and Bradley Annis scored and Shown had four saves.
Midfielder Abdi Mohamed and defender Jacob Gates scored against Kilbourne.
"We've played a very tough schedule," Pence said. "I challenge anybody in the Central District that's played a tougher schedule than what we've played. We've played all the top teams -- Liberty, Gahanna, Bradley, St. Charles, New Albany. You name it, they've been on our schedule and we've played everybody well."
Central girls prep for district tourney
The Central girls team is seeded fifth for the Division I district tournament and will play host to 38th-seeded Licking Heights on Oct. 17 in a second-round game.
Both teams have a first-round bye.
The Warhawks were 7-2-3 overall and 3-1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing first-place Jerome on Oct. 8. The Celtics were 5-1 in the league.
Central defeated Darby 1-0 on Oct. 1, as midfielder Allison Ubry scored and goalie Tricia Hogue had four saves.
The Warhawks lost at Hilliard Davidson 1-0 on Oct. 3. Central appeared to have tied the game with 14 minutes remaining when Ubry scored on a rebound against goalie Rachel Teater, but the goal was nullified because of goalie interference.
Hogue had five saves.
"I don't think the bounce-back part will be an issue for this group," coach Devon Cannon said. "They're experienced enough to take a loss and be able to play well again. I'm not too worried about how they feel after this."
South girls end Jerome streak
The South girls team snapped Jerome's 20-game league winning streak, defeating the host Celtics 2-1 on Oct. 1.
Forward Mikaela Couch and defender Asia Williams scored, and goalie Cara Calland had eight saves.
The Celtics hadn't lost in the league since Oct. 5, 2010, 1-0 to Dublin Scioto.
"That was definitely a big win," coach Brandi Tanler said. "So far, we're their only loss in the conference (before Oct. 8), so it was a huge win for us. It just shows how good of a team we really are when we play well."
South defeated Delaware 3-0 on Oct. 3, as Couch scored two goals and Williams scored one. Calland had six saves.
The Wildcats were 9-4-1 overall and 4-2-1 in the league after defeating Westerville North 3-0 on Oct. 7.
"The end of the season is when you want to be playing your best and right now we're playing real well," Tanler said. "We're clicking as a team offensively and defensively, so that helps. Earlier in the year we were giving up a lot of goals, but now our defense is tightening up and we're looking good right now."