The Delaware Hayes High School boys soccer team gained a huge bump in confidence when it defeated host Thomas Worthington 4-1 in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest Sept. 12.
The Pacers were 5-2-1 overall before playing Grove City on Sept. 14 and are 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal entering a home game against Hilliard Bradley on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
"We've reached the midpoint of the season and we wanted to see where we're at," coach Joshua Diehl said. "Thomas was ranked ninth (in Division I) in the district, so we used this as a benchmark. We want to crack the top 10 and we think we can be competitive to win the conference, too. (This) was a step in the right direction."
The Pacers went 3-2-1 in the league last year to tie Bradley and Hilliard Darby for second place behind Dublin Jerome (5-1).
"We have a great chance to win the conference this year," senior defender Sam Green said. "We've been together for a long time, we're putting in the work and I think we're headed toward the OCC championship."
After facing Bradley, Delaware will close league play with games Sept. 26 at Worthington Kilbourne and Oct. 3 at Jerome, which is 3-0 in the OCC-Cardinal. Darby, which beat the Pacers 1-0 on Aug. 29, is 2-0-1 in league play.
Delaware, which starts eight seniors and has 13 seniors on its roster, scored twice in 53 seconds to take a 3-0 lead into halftime against Thomas, which fell to 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal.
Brody Kannally scored off an assist from Owen Boyer with just over 26 minutes left in the first half and was credited with the second goal at the 7:26 mark. Brigham Kannally then scored off an assist from Zak Koch with 6:33 left in the half.
"We're learning the importance of momentum," Diehl said. "In situations where things go your way, you want to react properly and keep the pressure on in order to maintain momentum. When things don't go your way, you still need to react properly, but stay within yourself. Tonight, it happened to snowball positively for us, and I'm proud of our effort and the way we continued to push."
Thomas scored off a corner kick with 25:11 left in the second half before Delaware tacked on the final goal when Robbie Milner knocked in a ricochet off a corner kick with 17:10 remaining.
Goalkeeper Noah Meehan made nine saves.
"We're really excited with our performance and I don't think we've peaked yet," Diehl said. "What I really like was that we put 80 minutes of good, energetic soccer together (against Thomas). I thought Nate Reed and Evan Burkart played really tough and took ownership of the defense. We really limited Thomas and they're really good at putting the ball in the back of the net."
The Cardinals had scored 20 goals in their first six games.
"I think we did a great job in the back (against Thomas)," Green said. "We've got a tight back line, and I think that's one of our strengths."
The Pacers lost twice to Thomas last season, including 2-1 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
"The boys really made a statement," Diehl said. "We've been working on moving the ball faster and it was nice to see that transfer into the game tonight. We need to continue to work on that, as well as taking care of the ball. We're real dangerous on scoring opportunities, but we need to create more of those."
The girls cross country team is remaining patient until it can put all of its pieces together.
The Pacers finished 18th (511 points) in the 28-team Division I race of the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 9 at Watkins Memorial.
"We have not had the true top-seven girls together yet," said coach Jim Bibler, whose team competed in the Galion Festival on Sept. 16 at Amann's Reservoir and will participate in the Bob Reall Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 23, at Lancaster. "Emily Gray has had volleyball and she also turned her ankle (Sept. 2 in the Granville Invitational), but I think we should have all seven running (in the Galion Festival).
"Ashley Woller is working back from her injury and looks better every week, although she is frustrated right now. But she knows that it only matters in October, so she is patient. She is hoping to be back to meet her expectations by the OCC league meet (Oct. 15). It's fun to see Grace Fowler healthy for her senior year after two years of injuries."
Freshman Lauren English led the Pacers in the McGowan Invitational, placing 59th of 186 runners in 20 minutes, 48.5 seconds. Fowler was 107th in 21:55, followed by freshmen Brynn McGrail (113th, 22:02.4) and Becca Young (119th, 22:10.3), Woller (120th, 22:12.3), MaryBeth Zimmerman (164th, 24:11.5) and Mallory Bibler (175th, 25:00.7). McGrail, Young and Bibler set personal records.
"I'm trying to hold these freshmen back a little and keep them healthy, but they are eager to race," coach Bibler said. "It was nice to see Brynn and Becca drop a big chunk, each almost a minute off. That means the pack is getting tighter."
The boys team finished 31st (946) of 32 teams in the McGowan Invitational, with Avery Latta placing 171st (18:49.9) of 218 runners. He was followed by Aidan Stojkov (190th, 19:23.3), Lucas Paper (191st, 19:24.7), Eric Puthoff (198th, 19:48), Anthony Matus (200th, 19:48.6), Padraig Mumper (205th, 19:57.8) and Dominic Hupp (209th, 20:15.9).
Football team preps
for league opener
The football team was seeking to find its offense when it ended non-league play Sept. 15 against Washington Court House.
The Pacers fell to 1-2 after losing to Westland 19-14 on Sept. 8 and were averaging just 11.7 points per game while allowing 23.7. They're back to .500 after defeating Washington Court House 38-8 on Sept. 15.
Delaware will open OCC-Cardinal play Friday, Sept. 22, as host to Dublin Scioto.
The Irish are 1-3 after losing their league opener 21-17 on Sept. 15 against Jerome and were averaging 21.7 points while allowing 36.3.
Scioto beat Delaware 42-7 last season en route to reaching the Division II, Region 7 playoffs and finishing 8-4.
Against Big Walnut, running back Kenyon Pannell rushed nine times for 105 yards and three touchdowns and quarterback Kyron Rogers was 11-for-15 passing for 141 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown to Jaden Penn.
Penn, who started the first two games at quarterback while Rogers recovered from a hand injury, added a 22-yard touchdown pass to Jose Ramirez.
The Irish also scored a pair of defensive touchdowns against Big Walnut.
Against Westland, running back Isaiah Moore's 1-yard touchdown run tied the game at 7 in the second quarter, but the Cougars scored the next 12 points.
Westland opened the scoring by returning a fumble for a touchdown in the first quarter. The Cougars also recorded a safety.
Delaware cut its deficit to 19-14 with a 20-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Blake Eiland to receiver Blain McCormick with 6:50 remaining, but the Pacers turned the ball over on downs late in the game.
Girls golfers place
second in league
The girls golf team finished second (19-5) in the OCC-Cardinal standings after shooting a 392 in the fourth round of the league tournament Sept. 12 at Cooks Creek.
Jerome finished 24-0 after posting a 317 in the final round. Bradley (17-7) was third, followed by Scioto (10-14), Kilbourne (7-17), Darby (4-20) and Thomas (3-21).
Kenzie Collett shot a 91 to lead the Pacers in the final round, followed by Kelly Horvath (100), Sophie Zehner (101), Riley Geiger (107) and Gabrielle Weckerly (117).
Collett had a 93.8 average in league play, followed by Zehner (102.5) and Geiger and Horvath (both 102.8). Alyssa Stultz averaged 102.3 through three rounds but did not compete in the final round.
Boys golfers finish
seventh in league
The boys golf team finished seventh (0-24) in the OCC-Cardinal standings, behind Jerome (23-1), Thomas (19-5), Scioto (18-6), Kilbourne (11-13), Bradley (9-15) and Darby (5-19).
Delaware shot a 373 in the fourth and final round of the league tournament Sept. 13 at Clover Valley to place seventh behind first-place Scioto (291).
Luke Gazarek led the Pacers with an 85, followed by Zack Raquepaw (91), Ben Madden (93) and Hunter Piroska (104).
Gazarek averaged 85.5 in league play, followed by Madden (95.5), Logan Keeder (95.7), Raquepaw (96.8) and Piroska (100.5).
Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 23 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster
Sept. 18 -- Delaware County Cup at Bent Tree
Sept. 19 -- Buckeye Valley at Oakhaven
Sept. 18 -- Centerburg and Olentangy at Oakhaven
Sept. 25 -- Olentangy Liberty at Oakhaven
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 19 -- At Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 18 -- At Worthington Christian
*Sept 19 -- At Dublin Scioto in makeup from Aug. 22
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Pacers defeated the Irish 25-18, 25-14, 25-22 on Aug. 24.
Sept. 23 -- At Delaware Christian