Thus far, Tristan Graber's career as a goalkeeper for the Canal Winchester High School boys soccer team has paralleled that of his older brother, Aaron.
Both split time in goal early in their careers before starting full-time as a senior.
In Aaron's case, as a senior in 2014, he helped lead the Indians to their first league championship as a member of the OCC as well as a Division I district title and a program-record 17 wins.
Tristan, who has been on varsity since his freshman year, split time with 2018 graduate Stewart Gentry each of the past three seasons before taking over full-time this fall.
None of that is a surprise to coach Erik Feinstein, whose team was 7-3-3 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital Division entering a visit to two-time defending OCC-Capital Division champion New Albany on Oct. 2.
"I've been watching Tristan play for a long time. I knew he would be fine," Feinstein said. "His attitude and his work ethic have always been positive. He's always been a hard worker. He was small when he was younger so there was some concern about if he didn't grow, but he did. We were worried if he'd ever be able to touch the crossbar. That's not a concern anymore."
Now 5-foot-10, Graber takes pride in his workhorse role, but credits his coaches and older brother with shaping the player he has become.
"I feel like I'm pretty well-rounded," Graber said. "I always trained with my brother and he taught me to cover all my basics. Save the low shots with your hands, not your feet, and always get the high shots. Create good habits. I credit him and my coaches with my ability to stop different kinds of shots.
"The biggest thing since my freshman year has been increased comfort on the field. Going onto a varsity field at that age can be terrifying. Now I am much more comfortable and confident in my ability. With the maturity that's come with being a senior, I know that I am doing the best that I can. That has helped me with the nerves a lot."
Graber's season-high in saves entering the week was 21 in a 2-0 loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 4. He made 14 saves in a season-opening 2-all tie with Gahanna on Aug. 17 and 11 in a 3-0 win over Groveport on Sept. 20.
"Fifteen of those saves (against North) were spectacular," Feinstein said. "He's an aggressive goalie. He'll come out and challenge a shooter, but he can also make diving stops and all the simple ones. Nothing goes in on him easily. One-on-one, hard shots from distance, hard shots from close in, in traffic, he's developed into a very good leader of this team."
Defender Jared Wright said Graber's talent helps him make up for any mistakes by the defense. Wright has started at center back all season, flanked by Colton Davie on the left side and Connor Kasiara to his right.
"I see a big difference in him than other keepers I've worked with (as far as) his communication and skills," Wright said. "Just the fact that he can make up for mistakes with his skills and pure talent is huge. He is good in the air and on the ground as well. He isn't that tall, but if players have a nice shot up top, he somehow makes the save. I don't know how. He'll tip it over the crossbar. I have four inches on him and I'm not even sure I could do that."
Graber has researched playing in college, sending highlights to Case Western Reserve to gauge interest. He also plans to send film to Division I and II colleges, but added "if I don't play, then I don't play. It's no big issue."
His bigger concern for now is helping Canal Winchester pursue a league championship and earn a favorable seed in the Division I district tournament. The draw is Sunday, Oct. 7.
The Indians had won six consecutive games before playing New Albany, including a 7-0 shutout of Franklin Heights in league play Sept. 25 and a 3-1 win at Clayton Northmont on Sept. 29.
"We tied some games early that we should have won, but we've really gotten the ball rolling," Graber said. "We have a lot of momentum going into a big part of the season. I think things can only go up from here."
Girls soccer team shakes off slump
After losing four of five games in late August and early September, the girls soccer team took a three-game winning streak into an Oct. 2 match against New Albany that was crucial to the team's hopes of repeating as OCC-Capital champion.
Canal Winchester was 7-4-1 overall and 2-1 in the league before Oct. 2, coming off consecutive wins over Groveport (9-0 on Sept. 20), Dublin Coffman (2-1 on Sept. 22) and Franklin Heights (12-0 on Sept. 25). Coffman was ranked fourth in last week's Division I district poll.
The Indians also played Hilliard Davidson, which was ranked ninth last week, to a 3-all tie on Sept. 18.
"We've played awfully well defensively and on the attack," coach Alex Wentz said. "We hit that tough stretch in the middle of the season against some very tough teams, but the win over Coffman was a big one for us mentally.
"Going into the season, I knew we had the toughest schedule we've ever had. We expect to win every game, of course, but even if we didn't, we have taken something from every game. We've had some growing pains, but we've found a rhythm."
Injuries have played a part as well, as defender Megan Rinehart is recovering from a sprained ankle and backup goalie Madelyn Frank is out for the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury.
"We've been banged up with some injuries and bumps and bruises, so having a week off from games before (playing) New Albany was pretty helpful," Wentz said. "It gave us a chance to heal up a little bit."
Lindsey Davis had a team-high seven goals through 12 games, followed by Anaya Edwards with six and Elle Howard and McKenna Sullivan with five each.
Girls tennis team set for sectional
The girls tennis team earned its 10th victory of the season last week, marking the second consecutive season it has won double-digit matches, but the Indians' attention now turns to making program history.
Canal Winchester will compete in a Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Pickerington Central, hoping to advance players to district for the first time.
Courtney Cowgill, Amaya Gentry and Ellie Stedman will play singles, while Lydia Angel and Makayla Neely will make up one doubles team and Erin Duckworth and Callie Tate will make up the other.
Tate has played first singles all season. Duckworth usually has played second singles.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg.
Canal Winchester improved to 11-3 with a 4-1 win over Hamilton Township on Oct. 1. The Indians defeated Whitehall 5-0 on Sept. 26 and had a scheduled Sept. 27 match at Grandview postponed because of bad weather.
Postseason underway for golf teams
The boys and girls golf teams competed in Division I sectionals Oct. 2, hoping to prolong their seasons into this week and beyond.
The boys team played in a sectional at Turnberry, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
The girls were in a sectional at their home course of Westchester, seeking a return to district after a two-year absence. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
From both district tournaments, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to their respective state tournaments Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State.
Below are the coming schedules for the Canal Winchester cross country, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 6 -- Marion Harding Invitational
Oct. 6 -- Pickerington North Fall Classic at Cooks Creek
Oct. 6 -- Home vs. Chillicothe
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. Newark
Oct. 6 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Oct. 9 -- At Newark
*Oct. 4 -- At Franklin Heights. The Indians defeated the Falcons 25-6, 25-9, 25-4 on Sept. 13.
*Oct. 9 -- Home vs. New Albany. The Indians lost to the Eagles 25-9, 21-25, 21-25, 25-19, 15-9 on Sept. 20.
*Oct. 10 -- At Newark. The Indians lost to the Wildcats 28-26, 25-17, 15-25, 25-27, 15-13 on Sept. 25.