Despite a slow start, Olentangy High School field hockey coach Biz Brehm is confident her team has the talent to at least challenge last year's program record for victories.
The Braves were 1-5 overall and 1-4 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division before playing Berlin on Sept. 12.
Olentangy found itself still trying to replace the 29 goals lost to graduation between Emma Brown (17) and Elise Harder (12), but junior forward Ciara Szerencsits found herself moving into a featured role entering the week. She had three of the team's five goals through five games, with senior forward Brooklyn Morris and junior forward Anna Barstow adding one each.
"This year is different than the last couple years ... but we are continuing to work hard and improve each and every day," said Brehm, who is in her fifth season. "We have quite a bit of experience this year. The girls are tough, strong and full of spunk. We graduated a very talented class, but the kids that are still with us are fully capable of picking up right where the team left off."
Olentangy went 10-7-1 overall and 4-3 in the COFHL-West last year, losing to Thomas Worthington 10-0 in a district semifinal. The Cardinals, who beat the Braves 6-0 in this year's opener Aug. 20, went on to win their third consecutive state championship.
The Braves finished fourth in the COFHL-West last year behind champion Thomas (7-0).
Olentangy lost to Orange 2-0 on Aug. 22 and Columbus School for Girls 3-2 in overtime Aug. 28 before defeating Dublin Scioto 2-1 on Aug. 29. The Braves fell to Dublin Coffman 2-1 on Sept. 5 and Upper Arlington 6-1 on Sept. 10.
Junior Maddi Martin and sophomore Dani Beidelman are splitting time at goalkeeper, replacing graduated starter Erika Brehm, the coach's younger sister.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Katie Berberick (defender), Grace Cory (midfielder), Grace Ellis (forward), Cate Norris (defender), Delaney Ramsey (defender), Emily Scott (defender) and Joey Van Gorder (midfielder), juniors Megan Arline (defender), Riley Doyle (midfielder), Rachel Kickbusch (forward), Fernanda Loyola (forward), Megan Morgan (midfielder), Gabby Sasso (defender), Molly Sawyer (midfielder) and Karlie Severance (midfielder/defender), sophomores Steph Gravely (defender) and Maddie Richeson (midfielder) and freshman Jillian Everson (defender).
Girls tennis team enduring tests
The girls tennis team was 3-2 overall before playing Coffman on Sept. 11, having entered what coach Jeff Luxenburger called "the gauntlet of midseason tennis."
Olentangy dropped a 4-1 decision to Orange in OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 4 before having two matches postponed because of bad weather, Sept. 5 against Watterson and Sept. 6 at Liberty. The Braves entered the week at 3-1 in the league.
"Our doubles teams are doing a great job of taking what we're doing in practice onto the courts for matches," Luxenburger said. "We will be heading into some really tough matches as we enter the gauntlet of midseason tennis. I think our girls are ready to compete at a high level, as we will have to do in order to be successful the rest of the way."
Coffman entered the week tied for first in the OCC-Central with perennial power UA. Olentangy's scheduled opponent for Sept. 12, New Albany, has won 11 of the past 12 OCC-Capital titles and clinched at least a share of another championship last week.
The Braves' singles courts largely have been stable, with Nour Khayat, Priyanka Agochiya and Archita Sriram at first, second and third singles, respectively. Amanda Jones has played first doubles with Anna Collins and Jothsna Sabbasani, and second doubles has featured Khushi Agarwal and Faith Shielu.
Boys soccer team off to fast start
The boys soccer team took a 6-0-1 record into a Sept. 11 home game against Hilliard Darby, having outscored its opponents 18-4.
Drew Clement had a team-high five goals. Christian Bowens and Alec Heidl each had three to help complement a defense anchored by Thadd Graham and Jackson Tomsic and goalie Grant Robinson.
Olentangy begins league play Thursday, Sept. 13, at home against Westerville South. The Braves finished fourth in the OCC-Buckeye last year at 1-1-3, behind champion Liberty (4-0-1).
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 15 -- Galion Festival at Amann's Reservoir Park
*Sept. 12 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Watterson
Sept. 15 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club
Sept. 17 -- Delaware County Bank Cup at Royal American
Sept. 18 -- Central Crossing, Olentangy Liberty and Thomas Worthington at York
Sept. 13 -- Delaware and DeSales at Oakhaven
Sept. 17 -- Hilliard Davidson and Westerville Central at Royal American
Sept. 19 -- Buckeye Valley, Lancaster and Liberty at Scioto Reserve
*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Westerville South
Sept. 18 -- At Dublin Scioto
*Sept. 13 -- At Westerville South
Sept. 15 -- Home vs. DeSales
Sept. 13 -- At Berlin
*Sept. 13 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
Sept. 18 -- At Marysville