Stability has made a big difference for the Hilliard Bradley High School girls soccer team.
The Jaguars finished just 3-12-1 last season thanks to a last-minute coaching shakeup and a myriad of injuries. Cheri Shields was let go as coach during the preseason in August 2016 and replaced by Gustavo Landaverde.
First-year coach Becky Alcox, who was an assistant under Landaverde, has directed Bradley to a turnaround season, as the Jaguars were 10-3-1 overall and 3-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Scioto on Oct. 3.
"I think I might have been the only one who thought we were capable of playing like this," Alcox said. "I think we're the underdog, but I'll take being the underdog because we are surprising some people. We have a good combination of young talent and senior leadership that has done well for us."
The Jaguars began last season with eight goalkeepers in the program and lost all of them to injury by their fifth game. This season in goal, they have used a rotation of sophomores Macy Enneking and Emily Keck.
Enneking, who played club soccer last fall, had 30 saves through 14 games, and Keck had 40.
"We're definitely the underdog after what happened last season," Enneking said. "(Opponents) have really underestimated us based on how we played last year. We feel we're definitely a force to be reckoned with."
Sydney Artis witnessed firsthand the difficulties of last season as a starting midfielder. This fall, she has moved to the back and sees a difference in the team.
"I wasn't a defender last year, but I was midfielder, and it was just hard," she said. "The goalies didn't help because we had new people in goal that you couldn't trust 100 percent because they had never played there before.
"This year, as a team, we are a lot closer. Last year, we were kind of stressed out with losing our coach before the beginning of the season and it kind of messed with all of our heads. This year, we started from the beginning and kind of built ourselves up and we're actually a team now."
Worried about her team's defense, Alcox moved Artis and Maya Portier to the back, and she hasn't regretted that decision.
"Sydney moved from outside-(midfielder) to defender and it boggles my mind how well she has played after never playing there before," Alcox said. "Maya Portier was a forward and we needed some people in the back, so we moved both of them back there and they have been outstanding."
Freshman forward Avery Jantonio led the Jaguars with 11 goals through 14 games, followed by senior midfielders Gabbi Viggiano (5 goals) and Kaelyn Glenn (3 goals).
"Coach (Alcox) motivates us," said Jantonio, the daughter of former Ohio State men's basketball player Don Jantonio. "She teaches us to be mentally strong, which helps us all."
Entering the week, Bradley was second in the OCC-Cardinal behind Jerome, which was 4-0. The Jaguars lost to the Celtics 4-1 on Sept. 26.
"I think the attitude is more of a positive one, but I'm still trying to convince the girls how good they are," said Alcox, whose team closes the regular season Tuesday, Oct. 10, with a league game at home against Darby. "They just have to keep believing in themselves."
Tennis team set
Corinne Dixon and Nina Kisin of the girls tennis team are seeded third in doubles for the Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 5, and Saturday, Oct. 7, at home.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 12 at home and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.
Dixon and Kisin are seeded behind Jerome's Vicki Chang and Reagan Resor and Jerome's Arya Dudipala and Katherine Wang.
Faith Carlisle and Megan Thurston also will be playing doubles at sectional for the Jaguars, who were 14-5 before playing Grove City on Oct. 3. Brittney Burchett, Casey Mignery and Cat Whetstone will be playing singles.
for golf teams
The boys and girls golf teams began the postseason Oct. 3 in Division I sectionals.
The boys competed in a sectional at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Apple Valley.
The girls competed in a sectional at Royal American, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
From both district tournaments, the top two teams and two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to their respective state tournaments Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley cross country, boys soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 7 -- Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 5 -- Home vs. Grove City
Oct. 7 -- At St. Charles
*Oct. 10 -- At Darby
*Oct. 5 -- At Dublin Scioto. The Jaguars lost to the Irish 17-25, 23-25, 25-15, 25-18, 15-10 on Sept. 19.
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Darby. The Jaguars defeated the Panthers 25-18, 26-24, 17-25, 25-15 on Sept. 12.