The Delaware Hayes High School girls soccer team has made quite a turnaround this season.

The Pacers were 6-5-3 overall before playing Westerville South on Oct. 5 but had lost just one of their previous eight games. They were 5-1-2 in that stretch after opening 1-4-1.

Delaware shocked league-leading Dublin Jerome on Oct. 3, tying the Celtics at 2 to finish 1-3-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. Jerome remained in first place at 4-0-1, ahead of Hilliard Darby (4-1) and Hilliard Bradley (3-1-1). All three have one league game remaining.

"We are building a lot of confidence and the girls are really excited (about) tying Jerome, which is ranked third in the Central District (in Division I)," coach Bradd Smiley said. "Jerome is a fantastic team who has put a hurting on us the past couple of years, so we needed a lot to go right. Although they doubled us up on shots (21-10), we marked tightly and gave up few clean looks. Unfortunately, one of the clean ones was with around 10 minutes left when they tied the game with the final goal."

The Pacers led twice, as Kaylee Travis scored off an assist from Syd Breese for a 1-0 lead in the first half and Grace Miller scored off an assist from Syd McMillin to make it 2-1 in the second half. Goalkeeper Abby Weller had 19 saves.

"I think we kind of snuck up on them, but for us, it started when we beat Worthington Christian (2-0 on Sept. 9)," Smiley said. "They're a very strong Division III program, but that's when I noticed things changed and the girls started relying on each other and playing as a unit. It was like a switch turned on."

Delaware's other wins during the eight-game stretch came against Newark (6-2 on Sept. 16), Lancaster (3-1 on Sept. 23), Worthington Kilbourne (4-1 on Sept. 26) and Buckeye Valley (2-1 on Sept. 28). The Pacers played Thomas Worthington to a scoreless tie Sept. 12 and lost to Bradley 2-0 on Sept. 19.

Delaware closes the regular season Thursday, Oct. 12, at Mount Vernon.

"We don't want to hang our entire season on this one game," Smiley said of the tie against Jerome. "We need to get better and peak for the (Division I district) tournament. But right now, our center backs, Lauren McMillin and Reagan Olson, and our outside backs, Shelby Carlson and Savanna Deibert, have been outstanding in front of Abby, who has been terrific with communication. Madeline Hayes and Kelsey Travis have been strong in the back off the bench, too.

"Offensively, we're attacking better. The thing I like there is that we aren't relying on one scorer. I think Maddie Smith, Maddy Wilson and Emilie Kinney have been very solid in the midfield."

The district tournament starts Oct. 16. The tournament draw is Sunday, Oct. 8.

Boys soccer team
hopes to finish strong

The boys soccer team was looking to bounce back from a four-game stretch in which it went 0-2-2.

The Pacers were 6-4-3 overall entering an Oct. 7 game against Mansfield Senior.

After beating Grove City 1-0 on Sept. 14, Delaware lost to Bradley 2-1 on Sept. 19 before tying Kilbourne at 2 on Sept. 26, playing Worthington Christian to a scoreless tie Sept. 28 and losing to Jerome 5-0 on Oct. 3.

"We competed solid against Bradley, Kilbourne and Worthington Christian, but we just lost a few seconds of those games, and that kept us from winning," coach Joshua Diehl said. "That's what our focus is on currently -- identifying and capitalizing in those split seconds that make or break a result.

"Jerome was very good and was clinical in the final third (of the game). We will quickly and strongly move forward and take each game ahead with the fullest intensity to finish strong."

The Pacers close the regular season with home games against Fairbanks on Tuesday, Oct. 10, and Mount Vernon on Thursday, Oct. 12. They then will prepare for the Division I district tournament, which starts Oct. 18. The tournament draw is Sunday, Oct. 8.

"We want to make a strong tournament appearance and finish strong," Diehl said. "This is a great group of guys who have worked very hard over their careers. We haven't peaked yet, and I am confident moving into the end of the season."

Football team preps
to play Cardinals

The football team was still looking for answers on offense entering its OCC-Cardinal game against Jerome on Oct. 6.

The Pacers were shut out in back-to-back losses to Dublin Scioto (10-0 on Sept. 22) and Kilbourne (31-0 on Sept. 29) and are 2-5 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing 34-13 to the Celtics on Oct. 6.

On Friday, Oct. 13, Delaware will play host to Thomas, which is 3-4 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Cardinal after losing to Darby 45-14 on Oct. 6.

The Cardinals, who finished 1-9 last season, won their first three contests this year before enduring three consecutive competitive losses. They fell to Kilbourne 26-25 in overtime Sept. 15, lost to Bradley 31-17 on Sept. 22 in a game in which they led 17-14 at halftime and fell to Jerome 33-32 on Sept. 29 in a game in which the Irish scored the winning touchdown with 6 seconds remaining.

Thomas is led by Khalil Jones, a slotback, receiver, punt returner and quarterback in the wildcat formation. Other key players on offense include quarterback Charlie Rhoades, tailback Dijahn Davis, receivers Cameron Ryan and Fletch Curran and tight end Louis Dykstra.

Defensively, linebacker Charlie Kneessi, lineman Josh Keese and defensive back Vincent Eguakun are among the leaders.

Against Kilbourne, the Pacers were limited to 87 total yards on 44 plays. Isaiah Moore rushed for 42 yards on 10 carries.

Strong season ends
for girls golf team

The girls golf team was unable to extend its season Oct. 3 in a Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial.

The Pacers shot a 401 to place ninth of 14 teams, as Jerome (314), Gahanna (339) and Dublin Coffman (346) advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Cooks Creek.

Junior Sophia Zehner and sophomore Alyssa Stultz both shot a 95 to tie for 26th of 62 golfers. Freshman Kenzie Collett carded a 104 and senior Riley Geiger shot a 107. Senior Kelly Horvath could not finish because of a knee injury.

Marysville's Maddie Powers (83) was the third and final individual district qualifier.

"The course was a lot more difficult with the way it was set up as opposed to when we played it (Aug. 14 in the second round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament)," coach Rob Stultz said. "Our girls did OK, but I'm sure (the top three) could've shaved off 10 strokes apiece. But this was an excellent year and I'm excited about next year already. I expect our three returnees to be in the low- to mid-80s next year, and we have a truly great freshman class coming in."

The Pacers, who shot a 372 at Mentel Memorial on Aug. 14, finished second (19-5) in the OCC-Cardinal, behind Jerome (24-0) and ahead of Bradley (17-7), Scioto (10-14), Kilbourne (7-17), Darby (4-20) and Thomas (3-21).

Collett, Geiger, Horvath and Zehner all were honorable mention all-league. Stultz was not eligible for all-league recognition after playing in only three of the four league rounds.

Boys golfers finish
season at sectional

The season ended for the boys golf team at a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Darby Creek, where it shot 374 to place 13th of 17 teams.

Jerome (280), Westerville Central (314), Hilliard Davidson (319) and Pickerington North (320) all advanced to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 10, at Apple Valley.

Sophomore Zach Raquepaw led the Pacers, shooting a 90 to tie for 47th of 71 golfers. He was followed by freshmen Ben Madden (93), sophomore Luke Gazarek (94), freshman Hunter Piroska (97) and senior Logan Keeder (100).

Olentangy's Trey Wilson (77) earned the fourth and final individual district-qualifying berth.

Other expected returnees include junior Jackson Weller and sophomore Jake Ross.

"We are losing one varsity starter in Logan, whose leadership and attitude will be missed," said coach Andy Graham, whose team placed seventh (0-24) in the OCC-Cardinal, behind Jerome (23-1), Thomas (19-5), Scioto (18-6), Kilbourne (11-13), Bradley (9-15) and Darby (5-19). "Our youth is our strength. We'll bring back six letterwinners, and we gain a strong group of freshmen."

Girls tennis team
opens postseason

The girls tennis team competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 5 and 7 at Pickerington Central, where the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Thursday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Bradley and Saturday, Oct. 14, at Upper Arlington.

At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament Oct. 20 and 21 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

bemerine@thisweeknews.com

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Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Delaware Hayes cross country and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Oct. 14 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Hilliard Darby

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Westerville North