As if helping the Pickerington High School North boys soccer team win its first Division I district championship is not enough motivation, Will Harr is chasing a record that if attained will earn him some personal bragging rights.
With 12 goals through 10 games, Harr is well within reach of the program's single-season record of 19 set in 2014 by his older brother, 2016 North graduate Jake Harr.
"I'm pushing myself to strive further and further because of that. I think that's helping me," said Will Harr, a senior forward and the youngest of three brothers to come through the Panthers' program. "I feel like I've always been able to score goals. I just have that knack, but I haven't always had the opportunity. This is what I expect from myself."
Harr had just three goals last year as North went 15-3-1 overall, losing to New Albany 3-0 in a district final.
He equaled that output in this season's opener, a 9-0 win over Licking Heights on Aug. 18, and doubled it with another hat trick four days later in a 3-0 win over Worthington Kilbourne.
A third three-goal game by Harr led the Panthers past Pickerington Central 5-0 on Sept. 12.
Coach Darrin Monhollen credited some of Harr's success to the play of sophomore forward Reece Allbaugh, who scored 12 goals last year and had seven through the first 10 games this season.
"When you have two players as good they are willing to play unselfishly and together, you can do big things," said Monhollen, whose team was 6-3-1 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Lancaster on Sept. 26.
"I don't think any defense can keep up with Reece, and it's great to have that on our side," Harr said.
Tommy Harr, a 2013 North graduate, played college soccer at Dayton. Jake Harr, a 2016 North graduate, played one season at Lipscomb but, according to Will Harr, no longer is in that program and is exploring other college options.
Their sister, 2017 North graduate Mallory Harr, set the girls track and field program's records in the 100- and 300-meter hurdles as a senior and was a Division I regional qualifier in both events.
While the Panthers have been led offensively by Will Harr and Allbaugh, their defense had allowed only eight goals through 10 games, with each of North's first six wins coming by shutout.
Brennan Nincehelser anchors the defense at center back, flanked by Drew Salinas and Guillermo Zarate. Hayden Morgan and Adam Sherry anchor the outside.
"This is where we should be," Nincehelser said. "(Assistant) coach (Bob) Hart says not putting any goals in our net is better than scoring into theirs. We'd rather have a 2-0 or 1-0 win than, say, 5-2."
North remained undefeated in the OCC-Ohio with a 3-0 win over Gahanna on Sept. 19 in which the Panthers scored all of their goals -- two by Allbaugh and one by Harr -- in the final 8 minutes, 33 seconds.
Monhollen cautioned his players to put the win in perspective, keeping in mind that the Panthers did not clinch the OCC-Ohio championship last year until defeating Grove City in their league finale.
"We graduated some capable players with a lot of experience and we faced some adversity early this year," Monhollen said. "We grew from that, and I think we're less likely to take things for granted moving forward. We're not such a young team anymore halfway through the season. I like how hard they are playing and playing for each other."
Girls tennis team
Girls tennis coach Brian Hoff thinks his team is hitting its stride as the regular season winds down, even if the Panthers aren't winning all of those matches.
North improved to 11-4 overall with a 3-2 win over Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame on Sept. 23. A three-match winning streak came to an end with a 3-2 loss to Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 21, but Hoff nonetheless was impressed with the quality of play.
"We played probably our best match (Sept. 21)," he said. "The girls stepped up, played some solid tennis. The match certainly could have gone either way. The girls fought to the end. ...
"The team is progressing nicely, despite struggling with some inconsistent play. We had been playing down to the level of our competition, something that good teams don't do. We've been working on improving this and have been more consistent the past few matches."
The Panthers had defeated Hilliard Davidson (5-0 on Sept. 14), Dublin Coffman (4-1 on Sept. 18) and Westerville Central (4-1 on Sept. 20) before the loss to Liberty.
Cassie Alcala has continued to anchor first singles and is seeking her second consecutive Division I state tournament berth. Hoff said Kim Nguyen, who usually plays second or third singles, "turned a corner" with a 6-0, 6-2 over Liberty's Anna Gardner.
"I have been waiting for Kim to play a match like this -- she played at a high level with confidence in her game," Hoff said. "Kim, at times, has gotten nervous in big matches, but (on Sept. 21) she was aggressive and went for her shots to get her best win of the year."
North is still alive in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament, and will play host to Dublin Jerome in a district semifinal Thursday, Sept. 28.
The winner will play host to Liberty, Olentangy Orange or Upper Arlington in the district final on a date to be determined.
Boys golfers hope
for strong postseason
After falling short of a league championship for the first time since 2004, the boys golf team will try to start a lengthy postseason run when it competes in a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Darby Creek.
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
North fell short of district as a team last year, but 2017 graduate Frank Jones advanced as an individual. He shot an 81 at district to tie five others for 40th place.
"The ability is there. It's either we have a good start and a bad finish or don't get off to a good start and finish better," coach Steve Schill said. "We haven't had one day where they've all played their best at the same time. We have the talent to put it all together."
prep for sectional
The girls golf team also begins the postseason Tuesday, Oct. 3, when it competes in a Division I sectional at Westchester.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
The Panthers fell short of district as a team last year, but 2017 graduate Lauren Conley advanced all the way to state, where she tied for 12th.
Below are the coming schedules for the North cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 30 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Darby and Panther Invitational at home
Sept. 28 -- Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Sept. 30 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Tartan Fields
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek
Sept. 30 -- Canal Winchester Invitational at Westchester
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional at Westchester
Sept. 30 -- At Watkins Memorial
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. DeSales
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome in OTCA Division I district semifinal
Oct. 3 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Sept. 28 -- At Gahanna. The Panthers lost to the Lions 25-23, 23-25, 29-27, 25-17, 18-16 on Sept. 7.
*Oct. 3 -- At Lancaster. The Panthers lost to the Golden Gales 21-25, 22-25, 25-11, 25-8, 15-9 on Sept. 12.