Since adding girls golf as an official sport in 2007, four years after the school opened, Olentangy Liberty usually has found itself facing a state power in OCC competition.

For their first 10 seasons, the Patriots were in the OCC-Cardinal Division with Dublin Jerome, which won five Division I state titles and the league championship every season during that span.

The past two years, Liberty was in the OCC-Buckeye with Orange, which won its second consecutive state title in 2017, placed second at state last fall and captured the league title both seasons.

After most of the Pioneers' top players graduated, an opportunity arose for a new OCC-Buckeye champion to emerge.

On Sept. 4 at Royal American, the Patriots shot 359 to finish first in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Buckeye tournament, completing a 20-0 run through the league.

"I'm really excited for them because this is the first league title in school history for girls golf," coach Shayla Glover said. "They were in with Jerome for a lot of years and the past few years with Olentangy Orange. Even though a couple years ago we had a really solid team, we could not get over that edge with Orange in the same conference.

"Everyone's been a lot more consistent this year and is playing right around where they can shoot. They're good competitors, but they also work really well with one another and definitely cheer each other on. It's a really good team this year. They have a good team culture."

The Patriots, who will find out Sunday, Sept. 15, which Division I sectional they'll compete in Oct. 1 or 2, placed first in each round of the league tournament by at least 20 strokes.

That success came despite having just one senior, Sophie Dudon, in their lineup.

Junior Gracie Baun averaged 84.5 to finish third individually in the OCC-Buckeye. Her best league score came Aug. 14 when she shot 79 at Mentel Memorial.

"It's really excited just because we've never had the opportunity (to win the league)," Baun said. "This is the best team we've ever had all around. We all really bond. We're not just teammates, we're friends. I've definitely improved from last year, which is really good because I really worked hard over the winter. Our hopes are just to keep on practicing, working hard and try to make it definitely out of the sectional again."

Sophomore Taya Buxton has had some of her best rounds during league play, carding an 82 at Mentel Memorial and a team-best 87 at Royal American. She finished fourth in league average at 85.

Dudon and junior Juliana Renda both averaged 90.8, and junior Abigail Corbin averaged 96.

"It feels really good," Buxton said. "(The final round of the) OCC, we worked really well as a team and it feels really nice. We've practiced a lot more than last year."

Girls tennis team making progress

Despite not having junior first-singles player Maddie Atway in its lineup Sept. 5, the girls tennis team earned three-set wins on both doubles courts while losing 3-2 to Olentangy.

Considering the Braves were 6-1 before facing Jerome on Sept. 10, playing them that close was a positive for coach Will Thieman.

"Everybody's getting better," Thieman said. "We really have four new girls in our lineup this year. At the beginning it takes a while for them to understand all of the concepts and we've done a good job of getting better the past couple weeks. (Against Olentangy) I was really, really proud of our progress. Maddie wasn't able to play, but we almost squeaked one out. It just kind of shows we're getting better."

Before the Patriots played Dublin Scioto on Sept. 10, Atway hadn't been in the lineup since winning at first singles Aug. 28 in a 3-2 loss to Pickerington North. She was expected to return at some point this week.

Liberty was 4-5 overall before playing the Irish. The Patriots are 2-1 in the OCC-Buckeye.

On Aug. 21, Atway and junior Dani Schoenly won at first and second singles, respectively, but Liberty lost to Dublin Coffman 3-2 in the second round of the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I team tournament.

Schoenly has been playing first singles in Atway's absence, with senior Naga Pokala, juniors Emma Clark, Livia Spencer and Cathy Zhu and freshmen Charvi Thumati and Kylie Wilson also seeing action in singles.

Against Olentangy, Clark and Wilson won at first doubles and sophomore Morgan Porter and Thumati won at second doubles.

"Everybody is getting better and I think we're better than we were three weeks ago," Thieman said. "Every girl on our team listens and tries to get better, so it's definitely good to see."

Boys soccer team out to strong start

Before opening OCC-Buckeye action Sept. 10 at Orange, the boys soccer team was 6-0 and had outscored opponents 30-4.

The Patriots are No. 3 in the Division I state poll.

Among Liberty's wins was a 5-1 decision Sept. 7 over Mason, which was a district runner-up last season.

On Thursday, Sept. 12, the Patriots could have their toughest contest to date when they play at St. Charles, which they beat 2-1 in overtime in a regional final last season.

Against Mason, senior forward Ludwig Conrad scored two goals to give him seven on the season.

Senior forward Jaggar Brooker had five goals and senior forward Liam Garcia had four through six games.

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 14 -- Ohio Wesleyan Invitational at Liberty Park

FIELD HOCKEY

Sept. 14 -- Home vs. Kettering Fairmont

*Sept. 16 -- At Thomas Worthington

Sept. 18 -- At Worthington Kilbourne

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 14 -- Trojan Invitational at Findlay Country Club

Sept. 16 -- Liberty Invitational at Kinsale

GIRLS GOLF

Sept. 14 -- Toledo St. Ursula Invitational at Highland Meadows

Sept. 17 -- Pickerington North at Turnberry

BOYS SOCCER

Sept. 12 -- At St. Charles

*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Westerville South

GIRLS SOCCER

Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester

*Sept. 17 -- At Westerville South

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 12 -- At Cincinnati Indian Hill

Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman

Sept. 18 -- At Berlin

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Westerville Central

*Sept. 17 -- At Olentangy