Coach Tara Zimmer and the Olentangy Berlin High School girls soccer program hope to make the most of a season of firsts.
The team was the first to play in the stadium at the first-year school, although the Bears lost that game 5-1 to Orange on Aug. 17. Four days later, they defeated Hartley 1-0 for the first victory on the field by a Berlin program as junior forward Sydney Walker scored off a pass from junior forward Ally McMurtrie.
"It was awesome because we were the first team to have a win on that field," said Zimmer, who was interim coach at Thomas Worthington last season. "It was great to get our first win, but winning the first game in the stadium made it even more exciting."
Junior goalkeeper McKinley Hoffmann, who had 11 saves against Hartley, has enjoyed being part of a new program.
"It was a lot of work starting the soccer program, especially since a lot of the girls hadn't played together before," she said. "It's been a lot of fun and I've really been enjoying myself."
Hoffmann started for Olentangy last fall. Walker also saw varsity time with the Braves, as did junior midfielder Olivia Neidhardt.
"We're working technically and tactically with the girls, and we're trying to build a culture," said Zimmer, whose team opened its OCC-Cardinal Division schedule Aug. 28 against Dublin Scioto. "There are a lot of different things that we are going into and working on. It's an exciting time because the girls are young and willing to learn."
McMurtrie, Walker and sophomore forward Ashley Kerekes are the top scoring threats with Neidhardt, junior Cara Susey and sophomore Sarah Cain holding down the midfield.
Juniors Haley Cera and Ruth Pfeiffer are key defenders.
Juniors Alana Corrigan (forward), Lexie Lewis (forward), Aneesha Rockwell (defender), Sydney Sainey (defender), Delaney Siniff (defender), Evelyn Wildey (midfielder) and Hannah Wilt (defender) and sophomore forwards Abby Brennan and Lindsey Whitmore also expect to see playing time.
"A lot of us haven't played at this level before and it can be nerve-racking," Hoffmann said. "I have played varsity before and it's still nerve-racking for me. I just have to make sure to stay positive because we have the talent to win these games."
The Bears also lost to New Albany 3-0 on Aug. 23.
Volleyball team looks for right combination
With an inexperienced roster, girls volleyball coach Dana Stearns is searching for the right lineup.
The Bears were 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Dublin Jerome on Aug. 28.
Berlin has just one player with varsity experience in sophomore setter Morgan Lenix, who played at Olentangy last fall. Junior outside hitter Megan Fichter also played with the Braves, but with miss the season with a knee injury.
"We will keep mixing things up until we find our strongest lineup," said Stearns, who coached at Canal Winchester the past three seasons. "We will have a lot of different looks at different times."
One lineup Stearns has used features junior Shelby Buck (defensive specialist), sophomores Jenna Boucher (defensive specialist), Emily Hall (outside hitter) and Heather Higgins (middle blocker/outside hitter) and freshmen Elise Brown (setter) and Lauren Young (right-side hitter/middle blocker).
Also expected to see time are juniors Abby Walker (defensive specialist) and Payton Walker (defensive specialist), sophomore Julia Riebel (middle blocker/right-side hitter) and freshmen Alaina Moe (middle blocker/right-side hitter), Ella Showalter (outside hitter) and Walker Taylor (outside hitter/defensive specialist).
"We're not that tall, but we are athletic and fast and we hope that will be our style of play," Stearns said. "We won't overpower teams, but we want to play with speed and have consistency with our ball control."
The Bears opened by going 1-2 on Aug. 18 in the Marysville Spike-Fest. They defeated Dayton Stivers 25-12, 25-15 but lost to New Albany 25-21, 27-25 and Pickerington North 25-14, 28-26.
In league play, Berlin lost to Scioto 25-19, 25-19, 25-15 on Aug. 21 and to Hilliard Bradley 25-12, 21-25, 23-25, 25-12, 15-6 on Aug. 23.
Boys soccer team features young roster
The boys soccer team has only one player with varsity experience.
The Bears were 0-0-3 before beginning their OCC-Cardinal schedule Aug. 28 against Scioto.
Junior midfielder Dominic Antro-nica played last season at Olentangy.
"We're young, but we're getting better every week," said coach Josh Diehl, who led Delaware the past four seasons. "We're gaining experience every day that is going to help us."
Berlin opened by tying Orange at 2 on Aug. 17 as sophomore forward Brendan Greenhalge scored both goals. The Bears played Whitehall to a scoreless tie Aug. 21 and tied Watkins Memorial at 1 on Aug. 25.
"We're hungry for a win, but the guys are resilient," Diehl said. "It takes a while to build a program. They don't quit. They never give up, and we're excited about that."
In addition to Greenhalge, junior forward Brendan King and sophomore forward Harrison Bialos are key scoring threats. Antronica is joined in the midfield by sophomore Ryan Miller, and junior Luke Eisenhower and sophomores Kaden Foreman and Kyle Rinehart lead the defense.
The Bears will rotate three goalies in junior Jacob Lewis and sophomores Ethan Hegg and Connor Sexton.
"I think being a new group we are definitely working really hard and there is a different level of understanding," Diehl said. "We're working hard together to try to figure out each other's strengths and weaknesses so we can come together as a team."
Aug. 17 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Aug. 21 -- at Whitehall
Aug. 25 -- at Watkins Memorial
*Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Scioto
Aug. 30 -- at Lexington
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 6 -- vs. Fairbanks
*Sept. 13 -- at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 17 -- at Westerville Central
*Sept. 20 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 25 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
Sept. 27 -- vs. Granville
*Oct. 2 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Oct. 4 -- vs. Bexley
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Delaware
Oct. 13 -- vs. Worthington Christian
Aug. 17 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Aug. 21 -- vs. Hartley
Aug. 23 -- vs. New Albany
*Aug. 28 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Aug. 30 -- Watterson at Otterbein
*Sept. 4 -- at Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 6 -- at Upper Arlington
Sept. 11 -- at Big Walnut
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Sept. 18 -- at Westerville Central
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 25 -- at Hilliard Darby
Sept. 27 -- at Westerville North
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Oct. 4 -- vs. Buckeye Valley
*Oct. 9 -- at Delaware
Aug. 18 -- Dayton Stivers, New Albany and Pickerington North at Marysville Spike-Fest
*Aug. 21 -- at Dublin Scioto
*Aug. 24 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley
*Aug. 28 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Aug. 30 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 4 -- vs. Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 6 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 8 -- vs. Delaware Christian
Sept. 10 -- at Mount Vernon
*Sept. 13 -- vs. Delaware
Sept. 17 -- at Westerville North
Sept. 18 -- vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 20 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 22 -- vs. Jonathan Alder
*Sept. 25 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 27 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Oct. 4 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Oct. 11 -- at Delaware
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf and girls tennis teams:
Sept. 1 -- Westerville North Classic
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Sept. 1 -- Upper Arlington Pinnacle Classic at Pinnacle
Aug. 30 -- OCC-Buckeye at Cooks Creek
Sept. 5 -- OCC-Cardinal at Mentel Memorial
*Aug. 30 -- Home vs. Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 4 -- At Worthington Kilbourne