Hilliard Darby boys soccer coach Kyle Reichle is confident his team will bounce back from its early season losses and remain in the OCC-Cardinal Division chase.
The Panthers were 2-4 overall and 1-1 in the league before playing Dublin Scioto on Sept. 10, with three of their losses coming by one goal.
"We're in every game that we play," Reichle said. "Our games have been pretty close this year. Our opponents have all been pretty solid. We believe and the guys have said this to me, that whoever we play, we should have a shot to go out there and win. We just have to go out there and execute."
Darby lost 3-2 to Worthington Kilbourne, ranked sixth in last week's Division I state poll, on Sept. 3 in a game it led 2-1 late in the first half. With the league contest tied at 2 early in the second half, the Wolves scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick.
Ethan Hessick and Zach Jasper scored for the Panthers and goalkeeper Brian Watkins had seven saves.
"The team is real close getting some nice wins," Hessick said. "We just have to finish games better. We were up 2-1, so we have to find a way when we're in games like that not to blow it. It's happened a couple of times, but I'm sure we'll figure that out. It's just going to take some growing up."
The Panthers also lost by one goal to Olentangy (3-2 on Aug. 16) and Westerville North (2-1 on Aug. 22).
Hessick added that his team has displayed "a good competitive spirit," an aspect he hopes helps fuel its drive in the second half of the season.
Darby has a league game Tuesday, Sept. 17, at Dublin Jerome, which was ranked 11th in last week's state poll.
The Panthers defeated Delaware 2-0 in league action Aug. 27 and beat Westerville South 1-0 on Aug. 20.
"We have a lot of talent on the team," Reichle said. "The challenge of high school ball is putting it all together and getting all the individuals to play as one, play as a team. It takes some time. We have to try to figure out what works, where to plug in some guys, what formation we're playing and what works best. We're in that experimental stage."
The Panthers lost 4-1 to Davidson on Aug. 29 as part of the Cat Cup series between three Hilliard schools.
Jasper scored for Darby and Watkins had three saves.
Bradley and Davidson tied at 2 on Aug. 16 and Darby closes the regular season Oct. 10 at home against the Jaguars.
"Those games are awesome," Reichle said. "The guys get pumped up, amped up. All those are big rivalry games when you have (school) district opponents, so we're looking forward to the Bradley game, especially since they're in our league."
Girls golf team caps league play
The girls golf team completed the OCC-Cardinal tournament by finishing second (356) in the fourth round Sept. 4 at New Albany Links behind Jerome (330).
Maria Hayes led the Panthers with a 79, followed by Aimee Hayes (92) and Zaria Hampton (96).
Maria Hayes finished with a team-best 85 average in league play, followed by Aimee Hayes (93.5) and Hampton (95).
Darby went 20-6 in the league to finish third behind Jerome (26-0) and Delaware (20-6), which won the second-place tiebreaker. Rounding out the standings were Bradley (14-12), Scioto (8-18), Kilbourne and Olentangy Berlin (both 5-21) and Thomas Worthington (0-14).
"We finished in a tie for second, but lost the tiebreaker," coach Clay Rice said. "This is a huge improvement from last year, (when) we finished fifth in the league (2-13). We're working on fine-tuning our game this next month in order to make a push for a (Division I) district-qualifying berth come sectional Oct. 1 (or 2)."
The sectional drawing is Sunday, Sept. 15.
Girls tennis coach sees improvement
Girls tennis coach Shawn Morris is pleased with his team's improvement.
The Panthers were 3-5 overall before playing Davidson on Sept. 10 and 2-4 in the OCC-Cardinal before facing Jerome on Sept. 11. The match against the Celtics had been scheduled for Aug. 27 but was postponed because of bad weather.
"We've been improving every match and really coming together as a team," Morris said. "Nidhi Patel has been great at second singles and has taken over as our No. 1 singles player. She's been a fantastic leader as our lone senior. I'm excited to see how we do in the Kim Shepherd Doubles (Classic on Sept. 21) at Davidson."
Entering the week, the lineup also consisted of Lexie Mincy and Allison Nolan at second and third singles, respectively, Makenzie Robertson and Chantrea Thip at first doubles and Jordan Caple and Hallie Zacatelco at second doubles.
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 14 -- Ohio Wesleyan Invitational at Liberty Park
Sept. 12 -- Westerville South at Darby Creek
Sept. 12 -- Worthington Kilbourne at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 14 -- Bloom-Carroll Invitational at Pine Hill
Sept. 18 -- Bradley and Davidson at Darby Creek
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. New Albany
*Sept. 17 -- At Dublin Jerome
Sept. 12 -- At Pickerington North
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Jerome
Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Gahanna
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Delaware. The Panthers defeated the Pacers 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 18-25, 15-10 on Aug. 20.
*Sept. 17 -- At Kilbourne. The Panthers lost to the Wolves 25-22, 25-22, 23-25, 25-19 on Aug. 22.