He didn't know it at the time, but the difficult day Skylar Wahlund had a little more than two years ago at Olentangy Liberty High School might be one of the biggest reasons he's now one of central Ohio's top boys lacrosse goalkeepers.

Wahlund, a senior who is in his second season as the Patriots' starter, actually was in the opposing net for Mason early in his sophomore season as he and his teammates lost 12-3.

He spent much of the rest of that season playing another position, and after the season decided that moving to Powell -- where he could join fellow Resolute club players such as 2017 Liberty graduate Griffin Hughes and current Patriots senior Johnny Wiseman -- might be a better fit.

"I lived in Mason all my life, but I made friends here right away," Wahlund said. "It's actually funny because when I was leaving the Liberty game (my sophomore year), I was already unhappy. I was blessed that my parents basically uprooted our whole life to come here.

"I had to drive two hours to get to (club) practice because my club team was based out of Columbus, so I transferred here last year and this is my second year at Liberty. I already knew (Wiseman) from my club team. I like the lacrosse atmosphere here as well. They've made (postseason) runs ever since Johnny was a freshman, and I think this year we can make another big run."

Liberty is coming off a 16-6 season in which it made it to a Division I state semifinal and won the OCC-Buckeye Division title at 7-0.

After beating Westerville South 17-0 in a league game April 12, the Patriots lost to Lake Forest (Illinois) 11-10 on April 14. They were 6-2 overall and 2-0 in the league before playing Orange on April 17.

The Patriots opened league action April 9 with a 20-2 victory over Big Walnut as Wahlund and freshman Adam Blind split time in goal and Wiseman, freshman Aidan Kenley and sophomore Tyson Chapman each scored three times.

"Skylar is an amazing athlete," coach Jason Godwin said. "He's one of the top athletes in our program. He's quick and aggressive. His mindset is that he will stop every shot. He owns his mistakes and isn't afraid to speak up and be vocal. Off the field, Skylar is very engaged in what his teammates are up to. He lets guys know how much they mean to his team and program. He leads by example. He's always talking on the field. In practice, he likes to challenge the offense.

"Skylar is a great kid, an emotional leader and a leader by example. It's been special to have him be such a huge part of our program."

Wahlund, who made 156 saves last season while making second-team all-league, is one of four Liberty players who have committed to Ohio State. The others are Wiseman, Kenley and junior Andrew Guagenti.

Although the Buckeyes lost six of their first 11 games this spring, they were national runners-up in 2017.

Wahlund would like nothing more than to lead Liberty to new heights before heading to college, where he is considering majoring in pre-med.

Over the Patriots' first six games, the only time they gave up more than six goals was in a 13-5 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier on March 24.

Wahlund, who is 6-foot, 210 pounds, tries to use his athleticism to his advantage.

"(The loss to St. Xavier) was a big wake-up call for us," he said. "A big loss can help us going forward because it makes us push harder.

"When (Ohio State) recruited me, they just liked how I had good fundamentals. I play angles well and can get out of the cage. I'm really competitive, too. (Ohio State) had an interest, and it happened. I follow them pretty closely just to know who I'm competing with when I get there. They're a little down this year, but they've been very, very competitive, and I'm excited to see where their success can go."

Girls lacrosse team bounces back

After losing back-to-back games to two of central Ohio's top programs, the girls lacrosse team overwhelmed Big Walnut (19-2 on April 10), Westerville South (19-1 on April 12) and Westerville North (19-2 on April 13) in OCC-Buckeye contests.

Before facing Orange on April 17, Liberty was 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the league.

Liberty lost to New Albany 15-9 on April 5 in a league game and fell to Upper Arlington 19-7 on April 7.

Against Big Walnut, Madison Rapier had five goals, Mollie McCormack scored four and Grace Buckey added three while goalie Maddie Harrington made one save.

"(The win over) Big Walnut was great for the girls," coach Nicole Stines said. "Overall (it was) a great win for them and as coaches we can tell that they're determined to keep it going."

Rapier and Buckey both scored two goals against UA.

McCormack scored five goals against South and four against North.

Baseball team out to hot start

The baseball team built from a trio of victories in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to open the season, winning its next six games.

The Patriots were 11-2 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before facing Westerville Central on April 17. They lost to Westerville South 3-2 on April 12, beat Westerville North 9-1 on April 13 and split a doubleheader April 14, beating Mount Vernon 8-5 and losing to Big Walnut 9-6.

Through nine games, Carson Comer was hitting .500 with 12 RBI and Corbin Parrish was batting .370 with 11 RBI.

Mitch Milheim won his first three decisions, striking out 27 and walking six while giving up no earned runs over his first 20 innings. He had a no-hitter through four innings before giving up two unearned runs in the sixth of an 8-2 victory over Orange on April 10.

Liberty then beat North 5-1 on April 11.

"We value the practice time (in South Carolina) as much as the game time, and we got an inner-squad scrimmage, a scrimmage and three games in," coach Ty Brenning said. "It wasn't exactly warm, so we were out in sweatshirts, but it was a very productive trip. Our kids have been super focused. Our fuel right now is a little bit of the failure we experienced last year, and the guys feel like they've got a lot to prove."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Orange baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:

BASEBALL

*April 16 -- Home vs. Olentangy

*April 18 -- At Olentangy

*April 20 -- At Westerville North

April 21 -- At Mount Vernon

*April 23 -- Home vs. North

*April 25 -- Home vs. Liberty. The Pioneers lost to the Patriots 3-1 on April 4 and 8-2 on April 10.

BOYS LACROSSE

April 19 -- Home vs. Watterson

April 21 -- At Dublin Jerome

*April 24 -- Home vs. Westerville South

GIRLS LACROSSE

April 19 -- At Dublin Coffman

April 21 -- Buckner (Ky.) Oldham County and Wooster in Hannigan-Galipault Tournament at Thomas Worthington

*April 24 -- Home vs. South

SOFTBALL

*April 19 -- At North

April 21 -- At Lancaster with Whitehall

*April 23 -- At Liberty. The Pioneers defeated the Patriots 2-1 on April 11.

*April 25 -- Home vs. Westerville Central. The Pioneers lost to the Warhawks 12-3 on April 12.

BOYS TENNIS

*April 19 -- At North

April 23 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington

April 24 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington

TRACK & FIELD

April 20 -- Freedom Relays at Liberty

April 23 -- At Delaware

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

*April 19 -- At Liberty. The Pioneers lost to the Patriots 25-11, 25-14, 25-22 on April 3.

April 21 -- Home vs. DeSales

*April 24 -- Home vs. Central. The Pioneers lost to the Warhawks 25-15, 25-20, 25-22 on April 5.

April 25 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy

*League contest