Ashley Oracewski is thrilled to be leading the field hockey program at Olentangy Orange.
The Bay Shore, New York, native replaced Anna Karousis after four seasons and inherited a team looking to improve on last year's finish of 11-4-3 overall and 5-2-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division.
"I played field hockey at Long Island University and I teach high school math," said Oracewski, who teaches and also coaches girls lacrosse at Buckeye Valley. "I moved to Florida and coached lacrosse, but they don't have field hockey down there and I missed it. I spent a year down there before moving to central Ohio."
The Pioneers return six starters in senior midfielders Hannah Brown and Josie Vance, senior defender Mia Jakubowski, junior midfielder Sydney Lowry, junior goalkeeper Chloe Fuller and sophomore defender Samantha Myers.
"We're really strong on defense," Brown said. "We have some freshmen on varsity that are still learning the attacking side of the game and learning to play at the varsity level. We have a strong defense, which helps us against stronger teams."
The Pioneers were 2-1-1 overall and 2-0 in the league before playing Thomas Worthington on Sept. 4. They opened with a scoreless tie against Cincinnati Ursuline on Aug. 17 and lost to Columbus Academy 4-0 on Aug. 26. In COFHL-West play, they defeated Dublin Scioto 3-0 on Aug. 19 and Dublin Coffman 3-2 in overtime Aug. 28 as Brown had all three goals.
"I think we're strong defensively," Jakubowski said. "We all have a lot of skills. We just need to put it all together."
Fuller will be sharing time in goal with junior Regan Readnour.
Juniors Natalie Jenkins (forward), Elena Marchese (defender) and Miriam Myers (forward), sophomore Lexi Rundle (midfielder) and freshmen Emma-Cait Cogan (defender), Emily McManus (forward), Haylie Sucharski (defender/midfielder) and Reece Tomechak (defender) round out the roster.
Cross country teams off and running
The boys and girls cross country teams expect to be two of the area's top squads.
The boys won their first two meets and the girls started with a pair of top-three finishes.
"This might be our deepest team maybe other than our state-qualifying team in 2016," seventh-year boys coach Adam Walters said. "I feel like we're deep and experienced."
The Pioneers won the 13-team Hartford Twilight Invitational on Aug. 24 with 53 points, ahead of runner-up Ashland (73).
Junior Jake Ethridge was fifth (16 minutes, 19.4 seconds), followed by seniors Cody Moore (ninth, 16:27.1), Alex Kenish (12th, 16:32.2) and Brant Yocum (13th, 16:33.2) and juniors Lincoln Weber (14th, 16:36.2), Cole Benishek (17th, 16:40.6) and Justin Nichols (30th, 17:10.8).
Orange (42) also won the Westerville North Classic on Aug. 31 ahead of runner-up Worthington Kilbourne (104) as Ethridge (fourth, 16:13.91) and Kenish (fifth, 16:25.11) led the way.
"The key will be staying healthy," Walters said. "If we can have a tight pack like we have early on, we're setting ourselves up for a good fall."
The girls team returns several top performers, including seniors Paige Benecke and Allison Clifford, junior Medha Patria and sophomores Corinne Hazel and Abby Schroff.
"The strength of our team is that we have a lot of really strong runners on our varsity team," sixth-year coach Rae Schuh said. "Our pack time (at Hartford) was just over one minute for our first through fifth runners."
The Pioneers (76) were runners-up to host Granville (56) in the 15-team Hartford race. Benecke was seventh (19:34.9), followed by Schroff (10th, 19:49.0), Hazel (16th, 20:28.1), Patria (18th, 20:33.2), Clifford (24th, 20:44.6), sophomore Regan Yamasaki (29th, 20:57.9) and freshman Abby Wells (36th 21:17.1).
Of the 11 teams at Westerville North, Orange was third (91) behind Lancaster (75) and Kilbourne (76). Schroff (seventh, 19:52.67) and Benecke (ninth, 20:02.03) were the top performers.
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:
Sept. 7 -- Tiffin Carnival
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 9 -- At Watterson
*Sept. 11 -- At Dublin Jerome
Sept. 11 -- OCC-Buckeye at Darby Creek
Sept. 5 -- Hilliard Davidson at Blackhawk
Sept. 5 -- Home vs. Gahanna
Sept. 7 -- At Perrysburg
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Liberty
Sept. 7 -- At Watterson
*Sept. 10 -- At Liberty
*Sept. 5 -- At Westerville North
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Rocky River Magnificant
Sept. 9 -- At Watterson
Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Berlin
*Sept. 5 -- At Westerville Central
Sept. 7 -- Home vs. Parma Padua
*Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Westerville South