Count Colin McCort as among the members of the Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team who are doing their best not to get caught up in the early hype surrounding the program.
Although the Patriots had a .500 record in 2015 and lost in a district semifinal a year ago, they were ranked No. 1 during each of the first four weeks of this year's Division I state poll.
On Sept. 19, Liberty moved up to No. 1 in the USA Today Sports/United Soccer Coaches Super 25 national rankings.
"It's pretty cool, but I don't know how they do those (national) rankings," McCort said. "It's put a big target on us and we have to own up to that. We know that Liberty won state in 2012 and has been to some state finals, but we're trying to create our own path."
Liberty, which lost in state finals in 2011 and 2014 and in a state semifinal in 2013 in addition to its state championship, was 8-0-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Westerville North on Sept. 26.
After giving up just two goals over their first seven games, the Patriots tied two-time defending district champion Dublin Jerome at 1 on Sept. 21.
Then on Sept. 23, Liberty defeated Cleveland St. Ignatius -- which was ranked second in last week's state poll -- 2-0 on the road for its sixth shutout.
McCort, whom first-year coach Marc D'Auteuil calls one of central Ohio's two best players along with Dublin Coffman senior forward Luke Kiley, has been a big part of the early success.
The senior midfielder, who was first-team all-league and all-district last season when he had seven goals and six assists, scored nine goals through the first eight games.
While senior midfielder Stephen Psyhogios and junior midfielder Nathan Rothert scored against St. Ignatius, McCort had the Patriots' only goal against Jerome.
"(McCort has) been the creator for us, kind of our engine offensively. ... Everything we do offensively runs through the spot he plays," D'Auteuil said. "He's been fantastic. That's been a big driving force."
McCort has committed to Bowling Green, where he's considering majoring in education or sports management.
His father, Mark McCort, is a teacher at Thomas Worthington and his mother, Michelle McCort, is a teacher at Slate Hill Elementary in the Worthington district.
McCort would like nothing more than to help the Patriots make their first deep postseason run since before he became a key player as a sophomore.
"We've got good players at every position," he said. "We're all pretty good and coach D'Auteuil has helped make that happen when he came in. I like to talk a lot and help keep things organized. I just try to find my teammates in the right positions."
Girls soccer team
looking to hit stride
The girls soccer team is feeling positive about what it can accomplish despite going through some ups and downs this fall.
Before playing Westerville North on Sept. 26, the Patriots were 4-4-3 overall and 0-1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.
After losing 5-0 on Sept. 21 to the area's No. 1-ranked team, Pickerington North, Liberty edged Liberty Township Lakota East 1-0 on Sept. 23 as Brooke Severance scored off a pass from Madison Rapier early in the first half.
Patriots assistant coach Hillary Carter, who is a Lakota East graduate, was presented a plaque at halftime by her alma mater.
"I've put our program in a situation where we're playing some of the best teams not only in central Ohio but in the state," coach Kristen McMahon said. "We are seeing some really good effort."
The Patriots scored two second-half goals and led by one goal over Westerville South but allowed the tying score with 6 seconds remaining in a 2-all tie Sept. 19.
Liberty also tied with Coffman (3-all on Aug. 18) and Centerville (2-all on Sept. 9) and won 2-1 over Jerome on Aug. 31. Jerome was a district champion last season and Coffman was 7-1-2 before playing Marysville on Sept. 26.
McMahon said Olivia Sensky, a defender who has committed to Ohio University, has been one of the team's most consistent players.
"We're working on our mental toughness," McMahon said. "We have players that are hard workers and our back line has done a great job."
Field hockey team
having strong season
After beating Watterson 2-1 to advance to the state tournament for the first time last season, the field hockey team beat the Eagles by the same score Sept. 20.
The Patriots were 10-2 overall and 5-0 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West after beating Olentangy 3-0 on Sept. 25 and before playing Thomas Worthington on Sept. 27.
Liberty lost to Columbus Academy 6-1 on Sept. 14 but bounced back with wins Sept. 16 over Dayton Oakwood (4-0) and Kettering Fairmont (4-1).
Against Watterson, Lauren Warner and Dani Worrell scored and goalkeeper Allie Darragh made 10 saves.
The seeding meeting for the postseason is Oct. 8.
Liberty earned a sweep of the school district's other programs with its win over Olentangy. On Sept. 2, the Patriots beat Orange 5-0.
Against the Braves, Worrell, Mollie McCormack and Grace Buckey scored first-half goals.
Tennis team preps
The girls tennis team is preparing for the Division I postseason, which begins with a sectional Oct. 5 and 7 at Upper Arlington.
Junior Lexie Brengartner is the top seed and junior Ellie MacDowell is the second seed in singles. Junior Anna Gardner also will compete in singles.
In doubles, the team of freshmen Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenly is the top seed and the team of seniors Lexi Steer and Cellini Ko is the second seed.
The Patriots, who won the OCC-Buckeye at 5-0, were 13-4 overall after beating New Albany 4-1 on Sept. 25.
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 30 -- Boys: Kettering Fairmont Invitational; Girls: Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Lancaster
Sept. 28 -- Olentangy at Kinsale
Sept. 30 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Tartan Fields
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional 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 -- Watterson and Upper Arlington at Raymond
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional at Royal American. The top three teams
and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Oct. 3 -- At Westerville Central
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Watterson
Oct. 2 -- vs. Columbus School for Girls
*Sept. 28 -- At Westerville South. The Patriots beat the Wildcats 25-14, 25-17, 25-14 on Sept. 7.
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Patriots beat the Warriors 25-12, 25-11, 25-13 on Sept. 12.
Oct. 4 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central