In its 12th season, the Olentangy Orange girls soccer team still awaits its first district title.
The Pioneers have reached five district finals -- 2008 in Division II and 2011, 2012, 2017 and 2018 in Division I. Last fall, they lost to Olentangy 2-1 in that round to finish 11-6-2 overall, but this might be the year they break through to the regional tournament.
Orange returns 12 letterwinners and seven starters, including senior midfielder Grace Poorbaugh, who was second-team all-state and first-team all-district and all-league last season.
"We have really good team chemistry," said third-year coach Tim Lawrence, whose team finished second (4-1) in the OCC-Buckeye Division last fall behind Olentangy (5-0). "We have a strong (group) of returning players and we're going to have good depth. We can roll in substitutes without any letdown. They have been listening and learning every day."
Senior Sophia Leonetti and sophomore Secora Johnson return with Poorbaugh in the midfield, and sophomore Maia Kaufman is back at forward. Senior Keeley Galloway and junior Liz Woo are back as defenders in front of junior goalkeeper Amanda Poorbaugh, who is a Penn State recruit.
"I just think this team is really close and that can help us go far," Grace Poorbaugh said. "We need to keep working hard. We have so many returners, and they know how to push through."
Also back are seniors Cierra Clemons (defender), Samantha Fedio (defender/forward), Addie Masters (midfielder) and Payton Kaufman (defender/forward) and junior forward Morgan Scott.
"I think we're focusing on finding that first 11 (starters) and then the pattern of substitution," Lawrence said. "We need to finish with the right mix and have the urgency and staying with the goals set as a team. We need to stay motivated. Every team is different, but I like where we're at."
Maia Kaufman and Scott both scored as the Pioneers won their opener over Berlin 2-0 on Aug. 16. Amanda Poorbaugh had four saves.
Orange begins OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 10 at Liberty.
"On the field, we're good at passing and possession," Grace Poorbaugh said. "It allows us to push forward.
"We need to work on 50-50 balls and winning those in the air. We're good with the possession part, but we have to remain calm (on offense)."
New coach likes makeup of boys soccer team
Brett Weiss has a roster laden with juniors and seniors in his first season coaching the boys soccer team.
Weiss coached the Westerville North girls from 2013-17, only to take a year off to coach hockey.
The Pioneers were 7-7-3 overall 1-3-1 in the OCC-Buckeye last season.
"All of the seniors and juniors on the roster are pretty balanced, and all of them will be sharing time to keep the energy level high," Weiss said. "We have a good group committed to working hard and training hard. We have a good work ethic in the program, and we can give everyone game time without missing a beat."
Senior Kellen Sargent and junior Aron Kim are competing to play in goal. Senior Jason Stewart was an honorable mention all-league defender last year and is joined in the back by junior returnee Nate Hoang.
Senior Kyle Stringer returns at forward. Senior Jack Kossoudji and junior Alex James are back in the midfield.
"We're getting the guys to understand what we want done and how we coach as a staff," Weiss said. "They're learning how I do things, and I'm learning the best way to coach them. They are communicating well."
Junior midfielder Spencer Rose scored and Sargent had three saves as the Pioneers tied Berlin at 1 in their opener Aug. 16.
Orange begins OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 10 against Liberty.
Below are the coming schedules for the Orange cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Aug. 24 -- Hartford Twilight Invitational at Hartford Fairgrounds
Aug. 26 -- At Columbus Academy
*Aug. 28 -- At Dublin Coffman
Aug. 26 -- Bob Pritchard Memorial Invitational at Moundbuilders
Aug. 22 -- Berlin at Royal American
Aug. 24 -- Bear/Lion Fall Open at New Albany Links
Aug. 26 -- Coffman at Blackhawk
Aug. 28 -- OCC-Buckeye at Blacklick Woods
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Coffman
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Delaware
Aug. 27 -- At Coffman
*Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Liberty
Aug. 26 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
*Aug. 27 -- At Westerville Central
Aug. 28 -- At Academy
Aug. 22 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
Aug. 27 -- Home vs. Coffman