Defense and set pieces helped the Centennial High School boys soccer team win two of its first three games.

Defense and set pieces helped the Centennial High School boys soccer team win two of its first three games.

After opening with a 3-2 loss to Fairbanks on Aug. 22, the Stars beat Dublin Scioto 2-1 the next day and defeated Delaware Christian 2-0 on Aug. 30.

Centennial played Whetstone on Sept. 6 in its City League-North Division opener.

"We knew Fairbanks would be a challenge, with it being our opener on the road against a team who played in a (Division III) district championship last year," coach Scott George said. "We fell behind 3-1 at halftime because (Fairbanks) took advantage of some of our unforced errors.

"But we bounced back well. The win at Scioto was big because it came against a nice OCC program on the road. We scored on two corners. Against Delaware Christian, we also scored on two set pieces."

Through three contests, senior forward Sam Benson had three goals and junior midfielder Will Zimmerman had two assists.

"Will is getting the ball to the right spots and we're proving to be dangerous on set pieces," George said. "DeWayne Scott has played real well and we're moving him around to different positions. He has been solid in the midfield and at sweeper.

"We've also been strong defensively with three guys playing long minutes. Noah Schutte plays left back, Kitano Watkins plays right back and Jeremiah Upchurch plays center back. All three have done very well."

Girls soccer team tries to turn page

With some of its tougher opponents on the top of its schedule, the girls soccer team is looking forward to turning the page after starting 0-4.

"We've played some quality teams and we're pretty inexperienced," coach Barb Melig said. "Despite some ugly results, I'm still seeing improvements. We're always rocky in the non-league portion of the schedule, but I think all of us in the City League are in that same boat."

The Stars had been outscored 34-2 in those four games before opening league play Sept. 6 against defending champion Whetstone.

Centennial lost to Licking Valley 6-2 on Aug. 23 before getting shut out by Worthington Christian (9-0 on Aug. 25), Licking Heights (9-0 on Aug. 27) and Johnstown (10-0 on Aug. 29).

Forward Gwen Moran and midfielder Mariah Velez scored against Licking Valley.

"I think our freshmen, (forward) Yana Napier and (midfielder) Nina Zimmerman, have stepped up and improved quite a bit for first-year players," Melig said. "Rachel Massey and Stacey Leach have stepped into key roles and are good athletes and Sarah Hangen, Rachel O'Leary and Wahaj Ali have been good vocal leaders.

"I'd like to see us continue to grow and become more competitive and I think we will in the City portion of the schedule."