Senior forward Tareeq Chambers hasn't struggled to make an impact with the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys soccer program this fall despite playing his first season at the prep level.
Chambers moved into the school district late in his sophomore year and did not play last season, but his background in the sport has made for what coach Matt Kovach calls a "pretty seamless" transition.
Before moving into the area to live with his mother, Chambers spent most of his life living in Jamaica, where the soccer culture is vastly different.
"It's always 85 (degrees in Jamaica), but it's also always windy so it's not hot," Chambers said. "I've played soccer my whole life. We had club and state teams, but it's more serious there. For club, you pay to play here. They pay you to play in Jamaica, so it's just kind of different there. It's a lot of traveling, but it's not really far because everything is pretty close in Jamaica."
Another difference, according to Chambers, is the style of play, which he says is "much slower, much more about possession than attacking" in Ohio.
His addition helped the Lions take a 5-5-5 overall and 2-1-1 OCC-Ohio Division record into their game Oct. 9 at home against Pickerington Central in the regular-season finale.
The Lions are seeded 17th for the Division I district tournament and open the postseason with a second-round game Oct. 20 against 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 42nd-seeded Briggs at the home of the better-seeded team.
Through 15 games, Chambers led Gahanna with seven goals, Bachir Diana had five goals and two assists and both Alex Drenski and Jarrett Lukacsko had two goals and two assists.
"Tareeq is a natural goal scorer," Kovach said. "He reads the game well and makes great runs to put himself in position to score. He can finish in front of the goal in a lot of different ways. He can beat players off the dribble, score with both feet, shoot from range. You name it, he has it in his arsenal. His combination of speed and technical skill makes him a difficult player to deal with.
"Most of our players knew Tareeq through club soccer circles and knew the quality he could bring to the team if he came out this year. Any time you bring a player into the varsity group who hasn't been with the program, the first thought as a coach is, how will this impact team chemistry? ... He plays with a lot of passion for the game and a fire to compete and win. That is contagious."
Gahanna beat Lancaster 3-0 on Oct. 2 and Olentangy 2-0 on Oct. 4, giving it a 5-2-3 mark over its previous 10 games before facing Central.
Chambers, who aspires to play collegiately and professionally, likes the way his team has improved with the tournament approaching.
"We're a pretty good team," Chambers said. "The coach has been working us hard. Everyone on the team has been working hard to get better.
"I just wanted to come in and make a difference. That was my aim from the start. We just have to play how we know how to play. There are times we're not playing to the best of our ability, but in the Lancaster game, in the second half we showed the best of our ability. If we can do that the whole game, we can make it very far."
Boys golfers compete at district tourney
The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley, hoping to earn a berth in the state tournament.
The top two teams and two top individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
On Oct. 2 in a sectional at Turnberry, the Lions shot a 304 to finish second behind Olentangy Liberty (303) as the top four advanced to district.
"We like that (sectional) score," coach Judy Ratzenberger said. "There's a lot of pressure on everyone."
At sectional, senior Michael Hahn tied three others for medalist honors with a 72. Senior Drew Bailey tied for sixth (75), followed by junior Dylan Errington (78) and sophomores Max Hahn (79) and Mitchell Soma (85).
"I didn't get off to the start that I wanted to," Hahn said. "I was 2-over through four (holes) and missed in a couple bad places, but I kept grinding throughout the day and ended up shooting even. It's most likely the last time I'll (compete at Turnberry). It's a good confidence-builder. We saw some solid scores."
Davis sought state berth in girls golf
Senior Kayla Davis of the girls golf team sought to advance to the Division I state tournament for the second consecutive season when she competed in the district tournament Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
The top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams at district advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
On Oct. 2 in an 11-team sectional at Mentel Memorial, Gahanna and DeSales both shot a 372 to finish behind Upper Arlington (319) and Dublin Coffman (333), but the Stallions earned the third and final district-qualifying berth on the fifth-score tiebreaker.
Sophomore Elise Wenz shot an 88 and freshmen Molly Cepek and Taylor Patterson carded a 104 and 105, respectively, but junior Alexis Buck was unable to compete because of illness.
Davis, who was the OCC-Ohio overall medalist for the third consecutive year, was co-medalist at district with a 71 and followed with a 20th-place finish (153) at state last season.
Volleyball team stays in league title hunt
Before facing Lancaster on Oct. 9, the girls volleyball team was 10-8 overall and 6-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division.
The Lions close the regular season Thursday, Oct. 11, with a league match at Pickerington Central, to which they lost 23-25, 25-21, 25-14, 25-21 on Sept. 25.
Entering play Oct. 9, Grove City was 7-1 in the OCC-Ohio and Gahanna and Central were tied for second at 6-2.
Grove City was dealt its first league loss by the Lions, 25-17, 25-19, 23-25, 25-20 on Oct. 4, and played Pickerington Central on Oct. 9. It closes league play Oct. 11 at Pickerington North.
The Lions are the 16th seed for the Division I district tournament and will open Wednesday, Oct. 17, with a second-round match against eighth-seeded Watterson or 39th-seeded Westerville South.
Tennis season ends at sectional tourney
The girls tennis team had its season end Oct. 5 in a Division I sectional at Reynoldsburg.
Freshmen Caroline Mattox and Aubrey Thomas were seeded fourth in doubles but lost in the second round, and seniors Hannah Secrist and Rachel Becker lost in the first round in doubles.
In singles, junior Maddie Herrmann lost in the second round and senior Abby Slates and freshman Harshi Vathyam both lost in the first round.
Gahanna finished 5-9 overall and placed fourth in the OCC-Ohio at 2-3, behind champion Pickerington North (5-0).
Also eligible to return is freshman Sophie Graham.
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln cross country and girls soccer teams:
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Ohio meet at Lancaster
Oct. 13 -- At Findlay
Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 37th-seeded Licking Heights in second round of Division I district tournament. Gahanna is the seventh seed.