The Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team is taking in stride the accolades that earned it a No. 3 ranking in the Division I state poll and the top seed for the district tournament.
Last season, the Patriots were ranked first in the USA Today Sports/United Soccer Coaches Super 25 national rankings but went on to lose in a district final.
"We don't care about rankings," senior forward Ash Rajmahon said. "They don't matter at all to us. Last year we were at one point the best team in the nation ranking-wise and lost in the district final. We focus on our play and don't really put stock in the rankings."
Before playing Olentangy on Oct. 9, the Patriots were 12-1 overall and already had wrapped up the OCC-Buckeye Division title at 4-0.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, Liberty closes the regular season at home against Cleveland St. Ignatius, which is first in the state poll.
Liberty lost 2-1 on Sept. 15 to Cincinnati Moeller, which is ranked second in the state.
"The season has been going really well based off our record," sophomore defender Blake Collins said. "Our team has really good chemistry and is willing to fight for each other on and off the field. I don't think it's surprising that we've lost (only) one game. ... We love having the pleasure of being (ranked) third in the state. We never take our accolades for granted and strive every day to be better."
Liberty will open the district tournament Oct. 20 at home against 23rd-seeded Delaware or 41st-seeded Whetstone in a second-round game.
The Patriots, who also were the No. 1 seed last year, gave up just seven goals through their first 13 games.
On Oct. 6, Liberty beat Mason 3-0 as Jaggar Brooker, Ludwig Conrad and Liam Garcia scored and Theren Handlon made four saves.
"We started off the season with the typical mistakes every team makes and we worked on it," senior forward Nathan Rothert said. "It took us a bit longer to work out some consistent mistakes, but we've been playing well these past (few) games."
Girls soccer team putting it together
Before facing Olentangy on Oct. 9, the girls soccer team had won three in a row after winning just twice over its first 11 games.
The Patriots were 5-7-2 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Buckeye. They close the regular season Thursday, Oct. 11, against Watterson at Otterbein.
"This team is starting to come into their own," coach Hillary Carter said. "We didn't see much success in terms of wins to start the season, but there were a lot of positives to take from those early games against stiff competition."
The Patriots, who were Division I state semifinalists last season, are seeded 16th for the district tournament and open Oct. 18 at home against 21st-seeded Reynoldsburg or 31st-seeded Teays Valley.
Goalkeeper Riley Cartwright has "kept us in games and has come up big time when we needed her most," Carter said.
Lyndsey Kijowski and Gia Gaetano have been other standouts, according to Carter.
"It's easy to compare ourselves to teams of the past, but we need to focus on who we are and what we can do now," Carter said. "Heading into the tournament, we need to believe that we can be successful."
Volleyball team earns OCC title
The girls volleyball team earned a share of the OCC-Buckeye title with a 25-9, 25-9, 25-16 victory over Westerville North on Oct. 4.
The Patriots were 20-0 overall and 8-0 in the league heading into their match Oct. 9 against Westerville Central. If Liberty won that match or wins Thursday, Oct. 11, at Olentangy, it will earn the outright league title.
The Braves and Orange both were 6-2 in the league before playing each other Oct. 9.
The Patriots received the top seed for the Division I district tournament and will play host to 29th-seeded Groveport or 33rd-seeded Canal Winchester on Wednesday, Oct. 17, in a second-round match.
Field hockey team preps for tourney
On Thursday, Oct. 11, the field hockey team closes the regular season at home against Olentangy.
The Patriots lost to Worthington Kilbourne 4-3 on Sept. 29 but bounced back to beat Orange 3-2 on Oct. 1 as Anna Benton had two goals and Dani Worrell scored one. They then beat Berlin 10-0 on Oct. 3 as Lexie Cantrell had three goals and Benton and Sienna Sakich scored two apiece.
The Patriots, who are 10-3, are seeded fifth for the district tournament and open Wednesday, Oct. 17, at home against seventh-seeded Upper Arlington or 15th-seeded Hartley in the second round.
Tennis players advance to district
The girls tennis team will have one singles player and two doubles teams in the Division I district tournament Thursday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Reynoldsburg.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
The defending state champion doubles team of Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenly beat teammates Lexie Brengartner and Ellie MacDowell 6-0, 6-1 to win the title in a sectional held Oct. 5 and 6 at Hilliard Bradley.
Atway and Schoenly open district against Pickerington Central's Sophie Culver and Ella Culver, and Brengartner and MacDowell open against Dublin Jerome's Izzy Seikel and Kavya Alagappan.
In singles, Anna Gardner finished fourth at sectional and will face last year's state runner-up, Pickerington North's Cassie Alcala, in her district opener.
Golf teams battle for state berths
The boys and girls golf teams competed in Division I district tournaments Oct. 9.
The girls were runners-up (327) in an 11-team sectional Oct. 2 at Westchester behind New Albany (302) to advance to district at Cooks Creek, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams moved on to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
At sectional, Kavya Manocha shot 76 to tie for third, followed by Sarah Latzke (83), Gracie Baun (84), Taya Buxton (84) and Juliana Renda (90).
The boys shot 303 to edge Gahanna (304) for first in a 13-team sectional Oct. 2 at Turnberry. Grant Smeltzer was one of four players to tie for first at 72, followed by Andrew Blosser (76), Josh Steyer (77), Caden Gallagher (78) and Logan McCarrell (80).
"We've been real consistent all season," coach Ryan Snivley said. "I let the kids decide (which sectional to compete at) and this is where the boys wanted to go. I feel comfortable with where we're at."
The boys competed at district at Apple Valley, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams moved on to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Runners prep for league meet
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in the OCC-Buckeye meet Saturday, Oct. 13, at Hilliard Davidson.
On Oct. 6 in the Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington, the boys finished fifth (155) of 21 teams behind champion Gahanna (115) and the girls were ninth (26) of 20 teams behind champion Centerville (59).