Junior Bachir Diane is in just his second season with the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer program, but his background in the sport has helped him to have an easier transition.
After growing up in Guinea in West Africa where soccer is the No. 1 sport, Diane -- pronounced john-eh -- moved to the United States in 2015 and played for the Lions' junior varsity team last season.
This fall as an attacking midfielder, he's helped the Lions have a much better showing following a three-win season a year ago.
"We've improved from last year," Diane said. "We've been playing as a team and trying to win every single game, which is a good thing. We're still working on it, too."
Gahanna was 4-6-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Grove City on Sept. 26.
On Aug. 22, Diane scored his first varsity goal as the Lions rallied for a 1-all tie against Canal Winchester.
Diane added another goal in a 5-3 victory over Reynoldsburg on Sept. 12.
"He played j.v. last year but stepped in and won a starting job in the preseason," coach Matt Kovach said. "He's definitely one of our more creative players. He's a good kid."
Diane grew up speaking French and lived with his mother, Adama Diane, during his final five years in Africa while his father, Babassire Diane, and his four siblings lived in the United States.
Two of Diane's younger brothers are students in Gahanna schools.
"Over there we play (soccer) all the time," he said. "We don't play basketball or football. The first time seeing football, it was a scary game for me.
"It's a little bit different because here we go as a team everywhere. When there's a game we go on the bus. Over there it's just playing against other classes (at school), but here we play against other schools."
Gahanna lost to Pickerington North 3-0 on Sept. 19 in its second league game and then fell to New Albany 3-1 on Sept. 21 for its fourth loss in five games.
The other two losses during that span, however, came to a pair of teams that were ranked in the area poll last week in No. 1 Olentangy Liberty (2-0 on Sept. 5) and No. 4 Dublin Jerome (2-1 on Sept. 7).
Diane, who spoke little English before moving to Gahanna, is enjoying the challenge of helping the Lions rebuild their program.
"Varsity is another level," he said. "It's way harder than j.v. When I first came, French was the only language I spoke. Growing up, after school we'd play soccer. That's what we'd do. (Gahanna) has a very good program."
Volleyball team set
to face Panthers
The two-time defending OCC-Ohio champion girls volleyball team had one of its toughest tests during the first round of league play when it edged host Pickerington North 25-23, 23-25, 27-29, 25-17, 18-16 on Sept. 7.
The Lions will get a rematch with the Panthers on Thursday, Sept. 28, at home.
Before playing Reynoldsburg on Sept. 26, Gahanna was 10-3 overall and 5-0 in the league. North was 13-3 overall and 4-1 in the league before facing Pickerington Central on Sept. 26.
"I think (we) just showed more heart and effort the first time we played them," coach Molly Martin said. "We wouldn't let a ball drop. You could just feel it, that they knew they had to get that win."
The Lions had won four in a row before playing Reynoldsburg.
Through 13 matches, senior outside hitter Aubrey Wrona was leading Gahanna in kills (157) and serves received (169) and was third in digs (117). Senior setter Sophia Easton had 330 assists and junior libero Madison Martinez was first in digs (225), and Easton and Martinez both had 26 serving aces.
In addition, Martin said sophomores Anna Nye and Lexi Tatum have continued to improve at middle hitter, while junior Jewelee Pritchard has contributed at right-side hitter.
"I really think the team has bonded well," Martin said. "They know when to have fun."
Girls soccer team
As was the case a year ago, the girls soccer team has been led by its defense.
The Lions had posted five shutouts and were 6-1-2 overall and 1-0-1 in the OCC-Ohio before playing Grove City on Sept. 26.
After winning six consecutive games, Gahanna played Pickerington North to a scoreless tie Sept. 19 and lost to Hilliard Bradley 1-0 on Sept. 23.
The Lions were second in the area coaches poll behind North and eighth in the state last week.
"On offense, we lost a lot of depth from last year," coach Bob McGee said. "We lost 10 or 11 seniors, so as we're coming along, the offense is going to pick up."
Sophomore forward Katie Stafford has been leading an offense that also includes seniors Mia Dragich (outside midfielder) and Molly Rose (center midfielder), junior Mallory Beach (midfielder/forward), sophomore Kynsie Jonke (midfielder) and freshman Alexie Whittaker (midfielder/forward).
"During the first part of the season, Katie Stafford was scoring all the goals, but we're starting to move the ball a little bit more to become a little more dangerous," McGee said.
Tennis team preps
The girls tennis team opens the Division I postseason in a sectional Oct. 5 and 7 at Pickerington Central. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 12 at Bradley and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.
The doubles team of seniors Natalie Chen and Reegan Pomponio is seeded fourth.
The other doubles entrant is seniors Ankita Satish and Sara McCloud, while senior Jennifer Jackson, junior Rachel Becker and sophomore Maddie Herrmann will compete in singles.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 30 -- Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional tournament at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
Sept. 28 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Worthington Hills
Sept. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational at Westchester
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional tournament at Mentel Memorial. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
Sept. 30 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 30 -- Home vs. Findlay
*Oct. 3 -- At Lancaster
*Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Pickerington North. The Lions beat the Panthers 25-23, 23-25, 27-29, 25-17, 18-16 on Sept. 7.
Sept. 30 -- At Hilliard Davidson with Big Walnut
*Oct. 3 -- At Grove City. The Lions beat the Greyhounds 26-24, 25-19, 25-12 on Sept. 12.