Ruby Gentile knows the lonesome feeling that only a goalkeeper knows.
The senior is a three-year starter for the Grandview Heights High School girls soccer team, and it never gets easier with the game on the line.
Gentile tries not to think about it. Instead, she tries to focus on the ball and the tendencies of her opponent when the pressure hits a fever pitch.
"The toughest thing about soccer is the pressure of knowing you are the last person out there ... the last line of defense," Gentile said. "In shootouts, I try to stay really calm. I think about nothing. I'm not focused on the fact that if I don't save this, we don't win. I focus more on trying to do my best. I usually try to watch where they are standing and what foot they kick with and then just watch the ball."
The philosophy must work, as Gentile helped spark the Bobcats' run to a Division III state semifinal last fall. They lost 3-1 to eventual state champion Cincinnati Summit Country Day.
This season, the Bobcats earned the second seed for the district tournament and were ranked 10th in the final state poll behind top-ranked Summit Country Day. They were 13-2-2 overall before playing fourth-seeded Columbus Academy on Oct. 24 in a district semifinal.
"Ruby has been really solid for us, and this year she has consistently been even better," said coach Mike Merna, whose team started 0-2-1. "She really saved us early. We lost our first two games and tied the third. In some ways, it was disappointing in the way we played, but we did play three quality opponents. She made some huge saves to keep us in it when we have started games slowly."
Grandview opened with losses to Summit Country Day (3-0 on Aug. 18) and Worthington Kilbourne (4-1 on Aug. 23) before playing Worthington Christian to a scoreless tie Aug. 29.
Gentile began playing goalie in the eighth grade. She then spent her freshman season as an understudy to Izzy Esber, a 2017 graduate who went on to play at Westmont College in Montecito, California.
"I was coming in filling some big shoes with Izzy Esber because she was really good," said Gentile, who had 73 saves, had given up only 14 goals and had been a part of nine shutouts through 17 games. "Izzy was really welcoming and helpful and tried to make me a better player.
"That's what I most like about soccer is how much it is like a family. You see each other every day. You come every day to practice. You're friends on and off the field, especially at a small school like Grandview."
If the Bobcats beat Academy, which they tied at 1 on Oct. 3 in MSL-Ohio Division action, they'll play in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, against top-seeded Worthington Christian or third-seeded Wellington at a neutral site to be determined. The Bobcats defeated Wellington 2-0 on Sept. 26 and tied fourth-ranked Worthington Christian for the league title at 4-0-2.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal against eighth-ranked Zanesville Rosecrans, Berlin Hiland, Cadiz Harrison Central or Richmond Edison on Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Lakewood. Grandview defeated Rosecrans 3-2 on Sept. 15.
The regional final is Nov. 3.
Gentile has a 3.89 GPA and wants to major in biology with a track toward medical school. She plans to check into playing college soccer after selecting her school.
The Bobcats did not allow a goal in the first two rounds of the postseason, defeating 15th-seeded Cristo Rey 8-0 on Oct. 16 and seventh-seeded Columbus School for Girls 4-0 on Oct. 18.
"We started off not so great," Gentile said. "It was rough, but we have come a long way and we're capable of going as a far as we did last year (in the postseason)."
Four runners advance to regional
The boys and girls cross country teams both will be represented in the Division III regional meet Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North.
On Oct. 20 at Hilliard Darby, Derek Amicon won the boys district 1 race in 16 minutes, 33.9 seconds and teammate Chris Miller was fifth (16:45.4) as the top 12 individuals qualified for regional.
The Bobcats finished fourth (115 points) behind regional-qualifiers Mount Gilead (28), Galion Northmor (69) and Newark Catholic (85). Luke Wallace (24th, 18:44.4), P.J. Tingler (44th, 20:41.9), Alecco Walli (50th, 21:37.4), Garrett Culbertson (51st, 21:39.4) and Brady Long (53rd, 21:41.7) also competed.
In the girls district 1 race, Nina Amicon was third (19:40.5) and Liza DeVere was 11th (21:04.9) as the top 16 individuals advanced to regional. Grandview was fifth (115) behind regional-qualifiers behind Mount Gilead (46), Fredericktown (48), CSG (109) and Newark Catholic (110).
Also competing were Emmalyn Kukura (25th, 22:45.8), Nina Brown (31st, 23:15.78) and Scarlett Martinsek (56th, 29:42.1).
At regional, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to state Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
Boys soccer team reaches district semi
The top-seeded boys soccer team played host to 17th-seeded Horizon Science on Oct. 23 in a Division III district semifinal.
The winner faces third-seeded Johnstown or sixth-seeded Fairbanks in a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, at a neutral site to be determined. The Bobcats defeated Fairbanks 5-0 on Aug. 25.
Grandview, which was ranked fifth in the final state poll behind top-ranked Toledo Ottawa Hills, won district titles the past four seasons.
The district champion plays 10th-ranked Wellington, Grove City Christian, Liberty Union or Worthington Christian in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 31, at a neutral site to be determined. The Bobcats defeated Wellington 4-2 on Sept. 12 and tied Worthington Christian at 1 on Sept. 10.
The regional final is Nov. 3.
Manny Day scored six times and Sam Freeman had three goals as the host Bobcats improved to 12-2-3 by defeating 16th-seeded West Jefferson 13-0 on Oct. 17 in the second round.
Girls volleyball team falls to Green Wave
The 20th-seeded girls volleyball team lost at third-seeded Newark Catholic 25-5, 25-6, 25-7 on Oct. 17 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
The Bobcats finished 6-17 overall and 1-7 in the MSL-Ohio.
Katherine Taylor led a four-player senior class. The middle hitter led the Bobcats with 31 blocks and had 80 kills and 47 aces.
Junior outside hitter Grace Rubin had a team-high 81 kills, and junior setter/defensive specialist Janey Coplan led in digs (178) and aces (59) and had 41 kills. Freshman setter/defensive specialist Taylor Sanzo had a team-high 263 assists and had 166 digs and 54 aces.
Other key players expected to return are junior outside hitter/back row player Leila Meyer (54 kills, 40 aces, 126 digs), sophomore outside hitter/back row player Hannah Yochem (75 kills, 104 digs) and freshman middle hitter Sophia Gerhold (48 kills).