The third-seeded Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team finished 13-4-2 after losing to seventh-seeded Dublin Coffman 1-0 in a Division I district final last Saturday at Grove City Christian.
"It was a great ride, but you're never ready for it to be done," said coach Josh Diehl, whose team also went 4-2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division to finish behind Dublin Jerome (7-0) and ahead of Olentangy (3-3-1), Westerville North (3-3-1), Westerville Central (3-4), Dublin Scioto (2-4-1), Marysville (2-5) and Westerville South (2-5). "We took a lot of strides as playing as a team. It's rare to see such group that was so internally motivated."
The Shamrocks scored off a corner kick 12 minutes, 8 seconds into the game. Michael Vieth served the ball into the box and Tomas Guerrero headed it forward to Carl Ruf, who scored.
The Patriots defeated Olentangy 2-0 on Sept. 8 and 5-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 22. The also beat Worthington Kilbourne 2-1 on Sept. 4, two days after the Wolves were ranked first in the state poll.
"The Kilbourne game is probably what they'll remember the most," Diehl said. "Knowing we beat a team like that was a huge steppingstone for our program."
Liberty will lose senior midfielders Alex Ottavio, Tyler Gilcrest, Geoff Howard and Adam Mechling, senior forward Zach Moskites and senior defender Chandler Schott. Ottavio (11 goals, 10 assists) and Howard (11 goals, 8 assists) were first-team all-OCC and Mechling was named to the second team.
Juniors Tyler Ranalli (8 goals, 6 assists), Josh Stegner and Matt Barthel and sophomores Ben Bode and Duncan Johnston are expected back at forward. Junior Jake Kallenbach, sophomore Jarvis D'Souza and freshman Alex Ranalli are expected to return to the midfield. Juniors Chris Kill, Scott Schwartz and T.J. Happensack are expected back on defense in front of junior goalkeepers Joe Kon and Eric Osswald.
Tyler Ranalli and Schwartz were second-team all-OCC and Kill received honorable mention. Osswald (back) and Steger (foot) missed most of the season but are expected to play key roles next year.
•Olentangy finished 8-9-1 overall and tied for third at 3-3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal.
"Next year we'll start to feel the (effects of the opening of Orange)," said coach Dave Sebek, whose team will lose nine seniors. "This year we had a full senior class. Next year half of our seniors will be over at Orange, but we'll be OK."
Junior midfielder Nick Cameron, who missed five games after breaking a leg in a 1-0 win over Big Walnut on Oct. 2, is expected back, as is junior defender Ryan Stephens, a move-in from North Carolina.
Stephens, sophomores Zach Anderson, Alex Bechtol and Matt Cannon and freshman Matt Cameron are expected back on defense in front of freshman Taylor Smith, a backup goalkeeper.
Nick Cameron, sophomore Kyle Culbertson and freshman Jon Martin are expected back in the midfield and freshman Haydrick John is expected to return at forward.
The Braves will lose senior keeper Tim Nelin, senior midfielders Jacob Oberlander, Chad Barson, Tyler Anderson, Stephen Iannotta and John DiFrancesco, and senior forwards Eric Newman and Patrick Riell. Barson was first-team all-OCC and all-district, Newman was a first-team all-OCC and third-team all-district and Nelin was second-team all-OCC. Barson has committed to Akron and Nelin has committed to Trinity College in San Antonio, Texas.
Olentangy opened 1-5-1 but won five of its last seven regular-season games.
"The thing I will remember is the team's ability to stick with it,"Sebek said. "When we were 1-5-1 overall, a lot of people wrote us off."
•Second-seeded Orange finished 10-4-4 overall after losing to Big Walnut 1-0 in a Division II district semifinal Oct. 21. The Braves, who had beaten Big Walnut 2-0 on Sept. 2, went 4-3-3 against Division I opponents.
"I'm not sure if we're going to be Division I or not next year, but we want to play a Division I schedule," said coach Scott Bryant, whose team was third in the OCC-Capital at 2-1-3 behind Delaware (4-0-2) and Mount Vernon (4-1-1) and ahead of Big Walnut (2-2-2), New Albany (2-2-2), Watkins Memorial (1-3-2) and Franklin Heights (0-6).
"This year we had a pretty up-and-down schedule that bounced back between really good teams and some lesser teams that didn't challenge us. Next year I want us to play a pretty challenging schedule."
Orange has no seniors. Junior Ryan Young (4 goals, 8 assists) and sophomore Walter Ford, who played a variety of positions, are expected to return at forward.
The midfield is expected to return junior Taylor Rieger (13 goals, 6 assists) and sophomores Colton Bloecher (10 goals, 7 assists) and Jesus Villarroel (12 goals, 2 assists).
Rieger was first-team all-league and second-team all district and Bloecher was second-team all-OCC.
Juniors Scotty Matyak, Nick Pfau and Daniel O'Reilly and sophomores Alex Blake and Nick Vogel are expected back in the midfield. The defense expects to return juniors Max Hunter, Luke Rice and Austin Oberlander and sophomore Nick Anderson.
Sophomores Colin Evans and Michael Beatty are expected back in goal.
Hunter was first-team all-OCC and all-district and Anderson was honorable mention all-OCC.
"This season we were able to come together and have a winning record and have a pretty positive season," Bryant said. "This year was something to build off of for next year."
At a glance
•Record: 13-4-2 overall, 4-2-1 (second) in OCC-Cardinal
•Seniors lost: Tyler Gilcrest, Geoff Howard, Adam Mechling, Zach Moskites, Alex Ottavio and Chandler Schott
•Key returnees: Chris Kill, Joe Kon, Eric Osswald, Alex Ranalli, Tyler Ranalli and Scott Schwartz
•Record: 8-9-1 overall, 3-3-1 (tied for third) in OCC-Cardinal
•Seniors lost: Tyler Anderson, Chad Barson, John DiFrancesco, Stephen Iannotta, Tim Nelin, Eric Newman, Jacob Oberlander and Patrick Riell
•Key returnees: Zach Anderson, Alex Bechtol, Matt Cameron, Nick Cameron, Matt Cannon, Haydrick John and Ryan Stephens
•Record: 10-4-4 overall, 2-1-3 (third) in OCC-Capital
•Seniors lost: None
•Key returnees: Nick Anderson, Colton Bloecher, Max Hunter and Taylor Rieger