The Hilliard Darby High School boys soccer team feels good about itself entering its regular-season finale Thursday, Oct. 12, at Marysville.
The Panthers are getting some injured players back and trying to mend other bumps and bruises as they prepare for the Division I district tournament.
"We just got (senior forward) Jason Fleischman back from injury on Oct. 5, and that's certainly going to help us offensively when he's back in the groove," coach Kyle Reichle said. "We went 1-1-1 in our last three (games), but I can feel things coming together.
"Plus, we're closing the (regular) season with two challenging games that will help us prepare for the district (tournament)."
The Panthers were 6-2-6 overall and 2-1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Bradley on Oct. 10, with the winner likely finishing second in the league behind Dublin Jerome.
Darby is seeded 10th of 47 teams in the district tournament and will play host to 37th-seeded Columbus West in the first round Wednesday, Oct. 18. The winner will play 24th-seeded Big Walnut in the second round Oct. 21 at the home of the higher seed.
"There's a lot of great soccer in central Ohio, so sooner or later you're going to have to beat a very talented team," Reichle said. "If we're fortunate enough to win our first two games, we'd probably play St. Charles (in a district semifinal). They're seeded fourth and have a great team and a great program.
"Our goal is to play our best to end the regular season and then be ready to play at a higher level once we start the tournament."
The Panthers did not play West, Big Walnut or St. Charles in the regular season.
Darby defeated Grove City 4-2 on Sept. 28, lost to Thomas Worthington 1-0 on Oct. 3 and tied Granville at 1 on Oct. 5.
Against Grove City, Josh Govine, Daniel Djelmis, Zach Jasper and Ty Spangler scored and goalkeeper Nick Hermosilla made five saves.
Girls soccer team seeded seventh
The girls soccer team is seeded seventh of 42 teams in the Division I district tournament and will have a week to prepare for its postseason opener after closing the regular season Thursday, Oct. 12, at home against Marysville.
The Panthers were 7-4-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing at Bradley on Oct. 10. They have a first-round bye in the district tournament and will play host to 40th-seeded Westland in the second round Oct. 19.
"We're probably going to work on fitness during the week before starting the tournament," coach Dan Brady said. "With the game schedule and girls being tired and beat up a bit, you don't want to work on fitness during the (regular) season, so this gives us that opportunity."
The second part of Darby's plan is to work on set pieces, Brady said.
"We really need to concentrate on set pieces because they are so huge in the postseason," he said. "The last two years, set pieces have been the difference in ending our season. We need to get sharper on our sets and we need to defend better and recognize what our opponents are doing on their set pieces."
The Panthers defeated Grove City 2-0 on Sept. 28, beat Thomas 2-0 on Oct. 3 and lost to Olentangy Liberty 2-0 on Oct. 5.
"Liberty is a good team, but a communication problem in scheduling caught us off guard in that loss," Brady said. "We showed up there expecting to play after the j.v. game, but when we got there, they said the j.v. game was being played on another field at the same time. So we expected to start somewhere near 7 (p.m.), but they started the game at like 5:30.
"We had limited warm-up (time) and we gave up two goals early, in the first 10 minutes, and never recovered."
Blair Cowan and Emily Radcliff scored against Thomas and goalie Emily Schneck made three saves. Against Grove City, Cowan scored both goals.
"Blair has really been fantastic these past few weeks and we also got a boost when senior center back Hannah Knobloch came back from injury," Brady said.
Tennis players can't extend season
The girls tennis team saw its season end Oct. 6 in a Division I sectional at Bradley.
Junior Kelsie Huss defeated Bradley's Brittney Burchett 6-0, 6-0 and Davidson's Emma Wood 6-0, 6-0 before losing to Jerome's Kavya Alagappan 6-1, 6-0 in a district-qualifying match.
Also in singles, senior Vidhi Patel lost 6-2, 6-4 to Dublin Coffman's Lena Caruso and junior Sascha Smoot fell 6-0, 6-0 to Dublin Scioto's Nicole Santoso in first-round matches.
In the first round in doubles, seniors Paige Taylor and Grace Alexander lost to Marysville's Julia Shade and Caroline Geraghty 7-5, 6-3 and junior Sydney Davis and sophomore Nidhi Patel fell 6-0, 6-0 to second-seeded Katherine Wang and Arya Dudipala of Jerome.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to the district tournament Thursday, Oct. 12, at Bradley and Saturday, Oct. 14, at Upper Arlington.
The Panthers finished 10-6 overall and went 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal to place fifth, behind champion Jerome (5-0).
Boys golfers end season at sectional
The boys golf team shot a 363 to finish 11th of 12 teams in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to the district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
The Panthers were led by sophomore Adam Tivin, who carded an 89 to tie for 43rd of 71 golfers and finish 12 strokes behind the final individual district qualifier.
Jerome (280), Westerville Central (314), Davidson (319) and Pickerington North (320) advanced to district.
Also competing for the Panthers were senior Tim Hales (90), sophomore Marcus Hunter (91), senior Ty Spangler (93) and sophomore Michael Beard (95).
The Panthers finished 5-19 in the OCC-Cardinal tournament to place sixth, behind Jerome (23-1), Thomas (19-5), Scioto (18-6), Worthington Kilbourne (11-13) and Bradley (9-15) and ahead of Delaware (0-24).
Hale and Spangler were the only seniors who competed in league play, although seniors Joey Alter, Colin Buelow and Drew Dickmann also were on the roster.
Season concludes for girls golfers
The girls golf team shot a 452 to place ninth of 11 teams in a Division I sectional Oct. 3 at Westchester, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek.
The Panthers were led by sophomore Morgan Bair, who carded a 105 to tie for 36th of 55 golfers. Also competing were freshman Maria Hayes (112), junior Erika Opperman (117), freshman Madison Hoschak (118) and senior Paige Martin (118).
Upper Arlington (307), New Albany (328) and Pickerington North (347) advanced to district.
Martin was the lone senior for the Panthers, who finished 4-20 in the OCC-Cardinal tournament to place sixth, behind Jerome (24-0), Delaware (19-5), Bradley (17-7), Scioto (10-14) and Kilbourne (7-17) and ahead of Thomas (3-21).
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby cross country and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at home
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. 48th-seeded Walnut Ridge in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 15th-seeded Hamilton Township or 24th-seeded Newark in second round Oct. 18 at home of higher seed. The Panthers are seeded 12th of 50 teams.