Phrases like "unfinished business" have been the theme throughout the locker room since the end of last season for the Olentangy Liberty High School girls soccer team.

Phrases like "unfinished business" have been the theme throughout the locker room since the end of last season for the Olentangy Liberty High School girls soccer team.

The Patriots had just four seniors a year ago but emerged after being the sixth seed for the postseason to win Division I district and regional championships before falling to Loveland 3-1 in a state semifinal.

Going further after coming closer than it ever had before to a state title is among the goals for Liberty, which opens Saturday, Aug. 20, at home against Thomas Worthington.

"We're trying very hard to pull on last season and use it as motivation," said second-year coach Kristen McMahon, whose first team finished 15-6-1 overall. "They left it all on the field, and when they saw Loveland in the state final, they felt like we were one game away and should have been there. They have taken it so seriously the last few months."

The top returnee is senior Sarina Dirrig, who was first-team all-district and second-team all-state last season and has committed to Ohio University. She had 20 goals and four assists a year ago but could miss the beginning of the season with an injury.

Senior Emma Koshan (defender) returns after making second-team all-league, and junior Sydney Weaver (defender) is back after earning honorable mention all-league honors.

Senior Emma Campbell and senior Grace Poncsak, who is a transfer from Orange, competed during the preseason for the starting goalkeeper spot. Campbell was special mention all-league.

Sophomore Riley Cart-wright also has the skills to be a starter in goal, according to McMahon.

Another back on defense is senior Abby Summers. Senior defender Morgan Gray is expected to miss the season with an injury.

Other seniors are Ellie Bambeck (midfielder/forward), Sheila Colbert (midfielder) and Sophie Fallieras (midfielder/defender).

Junior Olivia Sensky (midfielder/defender) scored the game-winner last season when Liberty beat Thomas 3-2 in a district final.

Others juniors include Natalie Amodeo (midfielder/defender), Abby Jones (forward/midfielder), Madeline McKain (defender), Madison Rapier (forward), Brooke Severance (midfielder/forward) and Abby Townsend (midfielder/forward).

Rounding out the roster are sophomores Mara Follmer (defender/midfielder) and Lyndsey Kijowski (midfielder/forward).

Liberty went 7-0 in the OCC-Central Division last season to win its second consecutive league title and now will compete in the OCC-Buckeye with Olentangy and Olentangy Orange as well as the three schools from Westerville.

Among the players lost to graduation were first-team all-league selections Emma Waters and Jordan Fike and Hailey Pickelheimer, who made the second team. Waters also earned the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Senior Excellence Award.

"Our team is full of extremely hard workers," McMahon said. "It's not a huge team or flashy, but girls that want to play."

Boys soccer team looks to bounce back

After four consecutive seasons of reaching the Division I state tournament, the boys soccer team had its season end in a district semifinal last fall.

The Patriots have simplified their goals, focusing on winning the OCC-Buckeye championship and returning to district title contender status.

Sixth-year coach Rick Collins believes the talent is there to return to that level after the Patriots went 7-7-4 overall last season and settled for third in the OCC-Central.

Liberty opens Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Marysville.

"We had that four-year run when we made the final four every year, and last year we didn't perform as well," Collins said. "People want to beat you when you're on a little run like that. The other teams were super motivated and beat us.

"I think our goal first and foremost is to win the league. It's achievable but will be very difficult, and we want to win a district title."

Senior Oliver Person (midfielder/forward) is the leading returning scorer after finishing with seven goals last season.

Also back are junior defenders Wesley Collins (second-team all-league) and Derek Rubadeux (special mention all-league).

The other seniors in the program are Gabe Anichowski (defender), Austin Collins (outside back), Michael Gomori (forward), Nick Hauser (midfielder/defender), Adam Lorenzo (forward), Clay Sakich (goalkeeper), Caleb Sayre (forward), Andrew Slawson (outside back) and Ryan Slawson (midfielder). The Slawsons are brothers, as are Austin and Wesley Collins, who are not related to the coach.

Junior Logan Jennings is expected to start in goal, while classmates Collin McCort (forward) and Stephen Psyhogios (midfielder) should be starters as well.

Also looking to contribute are juniors Doug Denoi (utility), Ean Dowell (forward), Cole Paluch (forward) and Jared Whitfield (forward) and sophomores Nathan Meeker (utility), Nathan Rothert (midfielder) and Nick Stack (defender).

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

BOYS SOCCER

Aug. 23 -- at Marysville

Aug. 25 -- at New Albany

Sept. 6 -- vs. Gahanna

Sept. 8 -- vs. Upper Arlington

Sept. 10 -- vs. Mason

*Sept. 13 -- vs. Olentangy Orange

*Sept. 20 -- at Westerville South

Sept. 22 -- at Dublin Jerome

Sept. 24 -- vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius

*Sept. 27 -- vs. Westerville North

Oct. 4 -- at Worthington Kilbourne

*Oct. 6 -- at Westerville Central

Oct. 8 -- vs. Copley

Oct. 11 -- at Dublin Coffman

*Oct. 13 -- vs. Olentangy

GIRLS SOCCER

Aug. 20 -- vs. Thomas Worthington

Aug. 23 -- vs. Hilliard Bradley

Aug. 27 -- vs. Oregon Clay

Aug. 30 -- vs. Marysville

Sept. 6 -- at Gahanna

*Sept. 13 -- at Olentangy Orange

Sept. 15 -- at Hilliard Davidson

*Sept. 20 -- vs. Westerville South

Sept. 22 -- vs. Pickerington North

Sept. 24 -- vs. Watterson

*Sept. 27 -- at Westerville North

Oct. 1 -- at Dublin Jerome

*Oct. 6 -- vs. Westerville Central

Oct. 11 -- vs. Dublin Coffman

*Oct. 13 -- at Olentangy

Oct. 15 -- at Upper Arlington

*League contest

Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

FIELD HOCKEY

Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Ursuline Academy in opener

*Aug. 23 -- At Lancaster

*Aug. 24 -- At Olentangy Orange

BOYS GOLF

Aug. 23 -- Upper Arlington at Scioto Country Club

GIRLS GOLF

Aug. 20 -- Links at Groveport Invitational

Aug. 23 -- Watterson at Bent Tree

Aug. 24 -- Gahanna and Marysville at Bent Tree

GIRLS TENNIS

Aug. 18 -- At Marysville

Aug. 20 -- Watterson Invitational at Whetstone Park of Roses

Aug. 23 -- Home vs. Gahanna

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Aug. 20 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne

Aug. 23 -- At Marysville

*League contest