Having lost 10 players to graduation following a run to its first state semifinal, the Olentangy Liberty High School field hockey team entered this season with numerous openings in its lineup.
The Patriots have found more than enough answers along the way.
"At the beginning of the season, I wasn't quite sure it was going to roll for us and so far things have been rolling our way," coach Marianne Flannery said. "Girls have really been stepping in, and it's really fun every year to see who steps into those new roles."
The Patriots were 12-3 overall and finished second at 6-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division after beating Dublin Coffman 6-0 on Oct. 9. Thomas Worthington won the league at 7-0.
As expected, seniors Grace Buckey and Mollie McCormack have filled the void from a leadership standpoint. Buckey had 14 goals and four assists and McCormack had nine goals and nine assists through 14 games.
Senior Addie Druckenbroad (8 goals), junior Hayley Eckert (10 goals, 3 assists) and sophomore Dani Worrell (8 goals, 3 assists) also have been strong on offense.
Other key contributors, according to Flannery, have included juniors Lauren Mace, Sienna Sakich and Lauren Warner and sophomore Faith Dimantova.
Liberty is seeded fourth for the district tournament and opens Wednesday, Oct. 18, at home against 16th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a second-round game.
"Mollie and Grace have been offensive anchors, even with a lot of defensive focus by opponents," Flannery said. "The biggest thing about this group of girls is that they're very hungry for improvement."
Tennis team in midst of important week
The girls tennis team competed for a berth in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state team tournament Oct. 10 at Dublin Jerome.
The winner of that district final advanced to compete at state Oct. 22 at Reynoldsburg.
On Oct. 3, Liberty beat Orange 5-0 in a district semifinal.
The Patriots also had two singles players and two doubles teams advance to the district tournament Thursday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Bradley and Saturday, Oct. 14, at Upper Arlington.
In singles, junior Ellie MacDowell opens against Scioto's Nicole Santoso and junior Lexi Brengartner opens against Pickerington North's Cassie Alcala. MacDowell was runner-up and Brengartner was third in a sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at UA.
In district doubles openers, seniors Lexi Steer and Cellini Ko play Hilliard Davidson's Grace Wilson and Josie Paazig and freshmen Dani Schoenley and Maddie Atway face North's Kimberly Nguyen and Maggie Haas.
At sectional, Atway and Schoenley beat Steer and Ko 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 for the title.
Also competing at sectional in singles was junior Anna Gardner, who lost in the first round.
Girls golfers advance to district tourney
On Oct. 10, the girls golf team competed in the Division I district tournament at Cooks Creek.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams from the nine-team district tournament advanced to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
On Oct. 3 in a 10-team sectional at Royal American, the Patriots shot 327 to finish second behind Orange (298) as the top three advanced.
Junior Kavya Manocha shot 75 to finish third, senior Sidney Kadlic tied for seventh with an 80 and seniors Priyasha Kota and Makenna Brown shot 86 to tie for 10th. Also competing was sophomore Sarah Latzke (95).
Boys golfers capture sectional title
With a 304 on Oct. 3 in a 13-team Division I sectional at Turnberry, the boys golf team earned the championship ahead of runner-up Gahanna (308).
Freshman Grant Smeltzer and senior Trey Rath tied for second with three others with a 75, and junior Josh Steyer and senior Cole Corder shot 77 to be among six players to card that score. Also competing was senior Jacob Hickman (84).
"It was a pretty solid day," coach Ryan Snivley said.
Liberty competed in the 12-team district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley. The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Last season, the Patriots finished fourth at district.
"You have to mentally prepare and not panic if it goes astray over the first few holes," Snivley said. "Once it starts to mean a little more, nerves start to come into it."
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Darby
Oct. 13 -- Home vs. Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame
Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 16th-seeded Dublin Scioto in second round of district tournament. Winner plays sixth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, 10th-seeded Bexley or 11th-seeded Dublin Jerome in district semifinal Oct. 24. Liberty is the fourth seed.
Oct. 14 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Oct. 21 -- Home vs. 32nd-seeded Central Crossing or 40th-seeded Whetstone in second round of Division I district tournament. Liberty is the top seed.
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Watterson
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 39th-seeded Franklin Heights in second round of Division I district tournament. Liberty is the eighth seed.
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
Oct. 19 -- Home vs. 36th-seeded Mount Vernon or 47th-seeded Westland in second round of Division I district tournament. Liberty is the second seed.