Three goals have been reached in a turnaround season for the Olentangy Orange High School girls soccer team with one more on the horizon.
The Pioneers clinched their second league championship in three seasons by defeating Olentangy 3-2 on Oct. 3 in OCC-Buckeye Division action. They were able to check off two goals that evening and are looking toward a previously unattainable goal of a district championship.
"We have reached three goals already by beating both Liberty (2-1 on Sept. 12) and Olentangy and winning a league title," said senior defender Megan Cochran, whose team was 8-5-1 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Westerville North on Oct. 10 in its league finale. "But we have never won a district title and that's the focus for us now. We need to stay focused on that."
The Pioneers finished 5-10-4 last season after going 10-5-3 overall in 2015 and tying Olentangy for the OCC-Capital title at 5-0-1.
"We have a lot more team unity and our communication on the field is better than last year," senior forward Taylor Foreman said. "We seem to have a lot more drive and effort."
Senior forward Delaney Earl scored in the first half against Olentangy. The Pioneers trailed 2-1 at halftime, but held the Braves scoreless in the final 40 minutes.
"I think we have worked a lot harder for each other," Earl said. "The seniors have started to realize that this is our last year to prove ourselves and make it far into the postseason. We have never won district before and we are striving to do that."
Senior defender Cassidy Ryan scored with 8 minutes, 45 seconds left to tie the game at 2, and sophomore defender Grace Poorbaugh scored the game-winner with 6:17 remaining.
"I don't even know what happened. I was speechless," Ryan said of her goal. "I saw the ball and kind of stopped. I saw the ball, saw the goal, jumped and started screaming."
Both second-half goals came off corner kicks from senior forward Camila Hall.
"We had some good plays set up with the corner kick on the near post and far post, and our girls executed them," coach Tim Lawrence said. "We knew we could get some set-piece goals and (the Braves) created some set-piece goals, too. That's the kind of thing we want to avoid down the road because in a game like this, that's the difference."
The Pioneers are seeded ninth for the Division I district tournament and have a first-round bye. They open with a second-round home game Oct. 19 against 25th-seeded Watkins Memorial or 27th-seeded Pickerington Central.
"We have seven seniors starting for us and we have 10 on the team," Lawrence said. "How this team goes depends on how the seven seniors go. They're a great group and they will lead us down the stretch. I'm just so proud of what they have done so far."
Boys golfers finally get back to district
The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley, its first appearance at that level since its inaugural 2008 season when it competed in Division II.
That season, the Pioneers were second at sectional, second at district and 10th at state.
In a sectional Oct. 3 at Turnberry, Orange shot 311 to finish third behind Liberty (304) and Gahanna (308). Thomas Worthington (328) was the final team qualifier to district, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams advanced to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
"We missed (qualifying for district) by four strokes last year and we wanted to get that monkey off our backs and get out at Turnberry," said coach Adam Fraley, whose team was sixth (325) last season behind the fourth and final qualifier, Thomas (321). "We had beaten every team there but Liberty, so we felt confident going in and we're glad to finally break through to district in Division I."
Nathan Brown shot 75 to lead Orange, followed by Nate English (77), Alex Cabungcal (78), Jonathan Green (81) and Connor Cummins (86).
"We played a practice round (at Turnberry) on (Oct. 1) and they all played well and that built up their confidence," Fraley said. "That positive attitude carried over (to sectional) and they played really well."
Girls golf team wins sectional title
The defending Division I state champion girls golf team opened its postseason by winning its second consecutive sectional tournament Oct. 3 at Royal American.
The Pioneers shot 298 and were one of three teams to advance to district Oct. 10 at Cooks Creek, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on those teams advanced to state Oct. 20 and 21 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
Liberty (327) and Watterson (365) also qualified for district.
The Pioneers had four of the top five scores at sectional. Riley Dean (73) was medalist and Alyssa Kim (74) was runner-up, while Natalia Sompolvorachai (75) tied Liberty's Kavya Manocha for third and Ashley Au (76) was fifth.
Doubles team reaches district
The doubles team of Hannah Logan and Kortney Reed finished third for the girls tennis team in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at Reynoldsburg to advance to district.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles qualified for district 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 state Oct. 20 and 21 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Logan and Reed went 3-1 at sectional, defeating Pickerington North's Maggie Hass and Kim Nguyen 7-6, 7-6 in the consolation final.
Abby Butler and Livie Mauger finished 1-1 in doubles. Caroline Sproule (2-1), Grace Bezold (1-1) and Erin Storrer (0-1) all played singles but did not advance.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange cross country, field hockey, boys soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 14 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Darby
Oct. 16 -- At seventh-seeded Upper Arlington in second round of district tournament. Winner plays at second-seeded Columbus Academy or 15th-seeded Dublin Coffman in district semifinal Oct. 24. The Pioneers are seeded ninth.
Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 35th-seeded Dublin Scioto in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 47th-seeded Newark in second round Oct. 21 at home. The Pioneers are seeded 19th.
Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 41st-seeded Westerville South or 45th-seeded Northland in second round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 18th-seeded New Albany, 19th-seeded Lancaster or 26th-seeded Hilliard Davidson in district semifinal Oct. 24 at Franklin Heights. The Pioneers are seeded fourth.