The midfield was one of the Groveport Madison boys soccer team's strengths as it got out to a fast start under first-year coach Tyler Gleason.
That doesn't mean that the Cruisers weren't learning as they went, as several of the team's top midfielders found themselves still adjusting to a somewhat unfamiliar position as the halfway point of the regular season approaches.
Leading scorer Austin Snyder, who had 12 of the Cruisers' 33 goals through six games, spent the past several seasons as a forward after not having played midfielder since fifth grade.
Jeffrey Asamoah played on the wing as a freshman and moved to forward last year as a sophomore before coming to the middle.
That plays into Gleason's overall approach of having two of his more talented players in the midfield instead of closer to the goal.
"Most of our talent is in the middle of the field," said Gleason, whose team was 5-1 before beginning OCC-Capital Division play Sept. 10 at Franklin Heights. "We're really working on their understanding of how to play there because some of the guys in the middle of the field haven't been there before. It's a work in progress.
"We have a lot of talented players all over, but we try to keep a couple of our super-skilled players in the middle of the field to help distribute and win balls. We start there and then work our way out."
Melvin Ascamillo is a starting defensive midfielder, while Austin Evans and David Pascoula get time in offensive-oriented roles.
"You definitely have to change your mindset," Snyder said. "As a striker, you have to be the scorer, you have to lay the ball off for the midfielders to score. But in the midfield, you have to move the ball a lot, you have to come back on defense. You're the workhorse of the team. You have to do pretty much everything."
Groveport won five consecutive games after a season-opening 5-3 loss at Reynoldsburg on Aug. 16 and scored at least seven goals twice, in a 7-0 home win over Independence on Aug. 29 and a 10-1 rout of visiting Ready on Aug. 20.
"We've had better movement and we're creating more chances," Asamoah said. "We have to have great positioning. Without great positioning in the midfield, it's basically like nobody is there. We are learning how to play with each other and move off the ball together."
Groveport, which also defeated visiting Lancaster 6-0 on Sept. 3, visits Grove City on Thursday, Sept. 12, before continuing OCC-Capital play Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Canal Winchester.
The Cruisers are seeking their first win over the rival Indians since 2011. They are 0-1-2 in the series since being realigned into the current OCC-Capital in 2016, having lost 3-0 last year after tying the Indians at 1 in each of the previous two seasons.
"We might not always have played that well tactically, but we're getting results and that's all that matters," Gleason said. "(The Reynoldsburg loss) was more on me coaching-wise. The lineup has changed since then because we're still learning what we are looking for. But that said, our start has been great. We want to build and we're winning the games we need to win."
Volleyball team seeks stability
Volleyball coach Matt White expected some growing pains to start the season, considering that several players have changed positions.
Still, the Cruisers began OCC-Capital play Sept. 3 with a 25-13, 25-16, 25-8 win at Franklin Heights, a victory White hopes instills more confidence in his team over the next few weeks.
Groveport was 2-7 overall and 1-1 in the league before playing New Albany on Sept. 10.
"Starting (2-7) on the season isn't the ideal situation, but it also wasn't totally unexpected," White said, referencing the losses of setter Kiara Brinkley to graduation and setter Alexandria Maddy, who is concentrating on softball. "We only have three returning letterwinners from last year and two of them are playing new positions (Michela Ayers has moved from middle hitter to outside hitter and Lizarely Martinez has switched from outside hitter to setter). In fact, we have five players who are all playing in new positions this year. Add on top of that the change to a 6-2 offense and a rover (man up) on defense and you have a lot of change to get used to.
"Our coaching staff's goal is to get them all settled and communicating more on the floor to help with all the (new facets of the game)."
Groveport's other win entering the week came at Whitehall, 25-11, 25-15 in its season opener Aug. 17. The Cruisers lost 25-23, 25-14, 25-15 at home to Canal Winchester on Sept. 5.
"Michela has made great strides in learning her new position and her stats show it," White said. "Lizarely has been the glue that keeps us together on the floor. Her willingness to change positions for the good of the team was a great, selfless act."
Girls soccer team looking for wins
The girls soccer team fell to 0-7 with a 3-1 home loss to Hamilton Township on Sept. 9, one night before beginning OCC-Capital play at home against Franklin Heights.
Groveport was shut out in four of its first five games and was tied at 1 at halftime with host Lancaster on Sept. 3 before giving up nine second-half goals and losing 10-1.
Goalkeeper Alicia Blackstone made nine saves against the Golden Gales.
Lyla Khanthachack scored against Hamilton Township and Blackstone made three saves.
Below are the coming schedules for the Groveport Madison cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 14 -- Galion Cross Country Festival at Amann Reservoir Park and Ohio Wesleyan Invitational at Liberty Park
Sept. 18 -- Central Crossing at The Links at Groveport
Sept. 12 -- At Grove City
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
*Sept. 17 -- At Canal Winchester
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Newark
Sept. 14 -- At Bexley
*Sept. 17 -- At Big Walnut
Sept. 18 -- At Westland