After making four consecutive state tournament appearances from 2011-14 and winning the Division I championship in the second year of that run, the Olentangy Liberty High School boys soccer team made its billing as the Central District's best squad this fall stand up by capturing a regional title.
The girls volleyball team is in a similar spot after going through the regular season undefeated and following with Division I district and regional championships, but its appearance in the state tournament will be the first in program history.
Regardless of past achievements by the programs, second-year boys soccer coach Marc D'Auteuil believes this year's turn of events is part of a culture of success at the school.
"It's a great place to coach," D'Auteuil said. "There's a great administration, great athletic director and great kids, and they deserve this. How many schools in Ohio can say they won two regional championships (on the same day)?"
On Nov. 3 in regional finals, the soccer team beat St. Charles 2-1 in overtime at Dublin Jerome while the volleyball squad edged Orange 31-29, 21-25, 25-17, 13-25, 15-13 at Worthington Kilbourne.
Boys soccer team edges Cards for title
With its victory over St. Charles for the regional title, the boys soccer team improved to 18-2 and advanced to play Cincinnati Moeller in a state semifinal Nov. 7 at Springfield.
The winner plays Cleveland St. Ignatius or Medina for the state championship Saturday, Nov. 10, at Mapfre Stadium at a time to be announced.
The Patriots lost 2-1 to Moeller on Sept. 15 and 2-0 to St. Ignatius on Oct. 13.
"It's the regional finals, the game is ebb and flow and I don't know if you're going to find a more evenly matched game," D'Auteuil said. "(St. Charles is) as good of a program as there is in the state of Ohio. There were times we just had to hang in there a little bit. There were also times we had the better of the play, and we were able to sneak one in in overtime. I'm just happy for our kids. It's pretty unbelievable."
Liberty took a 1-0 lead with 33 minutes remaining in the second half on a goal by Ash Rajmohan.
The Cardinals tied it 10 minutes later and the game went into overtime, where the Patriots' Ludwig Conrad scored with 11:15 left.
On the game-winning goal, Luke Sensky kicked it to Rajmohan and his shot was deflected off the goalkeeper and toward Conrad.
"At halftime, Sensky said that whenever he got the ball to just go," Rajmohan said. "I saw him get the ball, he lofted it over, I went in on a ground shot and Ludwig came in and swooped it all up."
Liberty beat Pickerington North 2-0 in a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Jerome as Jaggar Brooker scored 14:30 into the game and Nick Stack scored with 11:10 remaining.
Volleyball team heads to state for first time
At 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, the girls volleyball team will face defending state champion Cincinnati Ursuline in a state semifinal at Wright State.
The winner plays Solon or Parma Padua for the title at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 10, at Wright State.
Last year at state, Ursuline edged Dublin Coffman in five sets in a semifinal before beating Cleveland St. Joseph 25-14, 25-11, 25-22 for its sixth state title.
The Lions improved to 25-2 with a 25-17, 25-15, 22-25, 20-25, 17-15 win over Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a regional final Nov. 3.
Liberty is 27-0.
"Sometimes for us, not knowing (much about our opponent) is kind of better," coach Jen Chapman said. "We go and play and don't think about it."
The Patriots had to go the distance to win both of their regional matches.
On Nov. 1 in a semifinal at Kilbourne, Liberty defeated three-time defending champion Coffman 22-25, 25-16, 25-20, 14-25, 15-11.
Claranne Fechter scored three of the Patriots' final four points on kills as her team scored five of the match's final six points.
A similar scenario played out against Orange, which Liberty defeated twice during the regular season.
In the third matchup, the Patriots trailed 11-8 in the fifth set but scored seven of the final nine points, with Fechter getting back-to-back kills and a block to complete the comeback.
"I was really focused," Fechter said. "It just feels great that we're history making. I think our defense picked up and we actually started putting balls down so that there weren't any long rallies."
Flannery steps down as field hockey coach
After leading the field hockey program the last seven seasons, Marianne Flannery recently stepped down as coach.
The Patriots went 100-28-4 under Flannery, including reaching the state tournament for the only time in program history in 2016.
Liberty was a district runner-up last fall and this season lost in a district semifinal to finish 14-4 overall. The Patriots were runners-up (7-1) in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division behind Thomas Worthington (8-0).
"I recently accepted a new (job), which will require more of my time, attention and focus," Flannery said. "More importantly is the impact on my time availability for my own family. When I started coaching I was home with my two boys, as they were an infant and toddler. Now they're both in elementary school and I've returned to the workforce. The demands of coaching just took too much time away from them.
"I've had amazing support by Liberty athletics, the high school and the district. I do plan to stay involved in field hockey and have some plans coming up for some new coaching opportunities to continue to support the sport in the area."