It took more than half of the regular season before the Olentangy High School boys soccer team played a game that wasn't in doubt until the final moments.
Luckily for the Braves, they came out on the winning end of a 6-1 decision against Dublin Scioto on Sept. 21 to improve to 5-1-3 overall.
Olentangy previously had played to three 1-all ties and won four one-goal games, but coach Pat Shick was quick to caution that not all games ending with identical scores are created equal.
"We've played a lot of different types of games already," said Shick, whose team also was 1-0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Westerville Central on Sept. 26. "We've been on both sides of (a lead), chasing a team to get the tying goal and also trying to preserve a lead. Ties can be pretty frustrating depending on which side you're on. We've seen a lot, and hopefully that will help us down the road."
Olentangy's record through nine games was by far its best under Shick, who is in his fourth season. The Braves were 1-6-2 through nine games in 2014, 2-5-2 in 2015 and 4-5 last year, and his first two teams advanced to Division I district semifinals.
Olentangy's only loss entering the week was to Dublin Coffman, 2-1 on Aug. 29.
The Braves' ties were against Dublin Jerome on Aug. 22, Westerville South on Sept. 13 and Hilliard Darby on Sept. 14. Their other wins were against Delaware (2-1 on Aug. 24), Worthington Kilbourne (3-2 on Aug. 31), Upper Arlington (1-0 on Sept. 5) and Westerville North (1-0 on Sept. 19).
"It seems like the last 10 to 15 minutes of every game is hectic, but we're used to that," said senior defender Justin Rehklau, a third-year starter and Case Western Reserve commit. "We've given up early goals in a few games, and unfortunately sometimes that's what it takes to make us get going. But the reason (the team) has done so well so far is that our seniors have really connected the team together. We play together very well."
Shick has experience up and down what he called "the spine" of the team, starting with forward Matt Celona, who had a team-high four goals through nine games. Nick Miller and Ryan Renner, both seniors, anchor the midfield, with Rehklau and Eli Stoner as the centerpieces on defense in front of senior goalkeeper Trent Trees.
"Nick only (had) two goals (through nine games) but he seems to be in the middle of everything," Shick said. "Justin is the backbone of our defense and he's able to control a game from that standpoint. Trent hasn't been tested all that much in goal yet, but once he is, I have no doubt he'll be able to handle it."
Olentangy's final two league games are against its biggest rivals, at Orange on Tuesday, Oct. 3, and at home against Liberty on Oct. 10. The stretch run also features games against perennial powers Hilliard Bradley on Thursday, Sept. 28, and Gahanna on Oct. 7.
"We look forward to those games when the pressure is high," Miller said. "But we know we have jobs to do before and after that."
Brown, Harder leading
field hockey team
Emma Brown and Elise Harder are forming a formidable one-two punch for the field hockey team, having scored 11 and nine goals, respectively, through nine games.
Olentangy was 6-3-1 overall before playing New Albany on Sept. 27, and finished 4-3 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West with a 3-0 loss to Liberty on Sept. 25.
A 7-0 win over Lancaster on Sept. 20 was the Braves' sixth in seventh games after an 8-0 season-opening loss to Thomas Worthington on Aug. 21. With Erika Brehm in goal, the Braves recorded four consecutive shutouts from Aug. 23-Sept. 6 and had five such wins on the season before Sept. 27.
Brown had three goals and Harder had one in a 4-all tie against McMurray (Pennsylvania) Peters Township on Sept. 23.
Two goals each from Rachel Kickbusch and Brooklyn Morris and one from Olivia Langwasser rounded out the Braves' scoring through 10 games.
Golf teams prepare
The postseason begins Tuesday, Oct. 3, for the boys and girls golf teams as they participate in Division I sectional tournaments.
The boys will play in the Darby Creek sectional. The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams will advance to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
The girls are headed to a sectional at Royal American. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy cross country, field hockey, football, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 30 -- Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 2 -- At Granville in makeup from Sept. 2
Oct. 4 -- Home vs. Hilliard Lynx
Sept. 28 -- Olentangy Liberty at Kinsale
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional tournament at Darby Creek
Oct. 3 -- Division I sectional tournament at Royal American
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Oct. 3 -- At Olentangy Orange
Sept. 30 -- At Marysville
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Orange
*Sept. 28 -- At Westerville North. The Braves defeated the Warriors 25-13, 25-12, 21-25, 25-13 on Sept. 7.
Sept. 30 -- Perrysburg Tournament
*Oct. 3 -- Home vs. Westerville Central. The Braves defeated the Warhawks 25-13, 25-21, 25-20 on Sept. 12.