A fast start helped the Olentangy Liberty High School hockey team become the first central Ohio program to win three district titles.

The second-seeded Patriots scored three quick goals en route to defeating top-seeded St. Charles 4-1 in the district final March 4 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.

Seventh-ranked Liberty (31-7-1) advanced to play top-ranked Toledo St. Francis in a state semifinal at 1 p.m. March 11 at Nationwide Arena. The Knights (24-5-2) defeated Bowling Green 3-2 in two overtimes in their district final March 3.

The Patriots jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period before holding off St. Charles (28-9-1), which outshot Liberty 38-16.

“We knew both teams would come out flying and whoever could take advantage of that would be in good shape,” said Liberty coach Jack Hoogeveen, whose team also won district titles in 2011 and 2013. “It’s a tribute to (St. Charles) how they kept coming at us.”

Video •Olentangy Liberty celebrates its 4-1 win over St. Charles in the district final March 4 at OhioHealth Ice Haus.

The Cardinals’ only goal was scored by Marco Giambrone with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left in the first period.

Ron Ambrosia scored the first of his two goals with 12:36 left in the opening period, and J.T. Schoettmer followed with two more goals in the next four minutes. Ambrosia scored his second goal with 12:07 left in the second period.

Liberty goaltender David Dew had 37 saves, while St. Charles goalies Jacob Badger and Ben Carey combined for 12 saves.

“I think both teams had the same thing in mind, and that was to get out quickly,” St. Charles coach Rob Sangster said. “In games like this, you want to get everything to the net, and (our players) did that.

“We were never out of it. We gave them a ton of pressure. We just weren’t burying it.”

shennen@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekHennen