Despite losing 16 players to graduation, including nine starters, and coming off a pair of losses last week, Westerville South boys soccer coach Wynleux Henderson was confident his team would respond.
The Wildcats were 2-3-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy on Sept. 10.
South lost to Upper Arlington 1-0 on Sept. 3 and Pickerington Central 4-2 on Sept. 5.
"I think 16 seniors was the most any team in the city of Columbus had last year let alone myself," said Henderson, who is in his fourth season. "It was a big hit. We had a lot of holes to fill and players are starting to step up and own their positions and raise their level of play each and every game.
"We're in a good position to do really well for the rest of the year, and next year and years to come."
South's game against Reynoldsburg on Aug. 27 was suspended because of bad weather late in the first half with the Raiders leading 2-1 and will resume Sept. 26.
The Wildcats' league win came against Westerville North 1-0 on Aug. 16. The teams will meet in a non-league contest Oct. 3 at South.
The Wildcats defeated Marysville 3-2 on Aug. 29.
Sophomore goalkeeper Ethan Gary has been among the standouts.
"Ethan has been playing great," Henderson said. "One of the question marks that we had coming into the season was the goalkeeper position. We graduated two goalkeepers with Russell Montemarano and Asher Rose. Goalie for varsity had some big shoes to fill and Ethan has stepped up and done a great job."
Through five games, Nick Lovell led the Wildcats in scoring with four goals.
"Being such a young team and after losing 16 seniors kind of hurt us, but beating North the first game of the season gave us a boost and confidence," Lovell said. "If we keep working hard then we could do pretty well this season."
South resumes league play Tuesday, Sept. 17, when it visits Olentangy Liberty, which is ranked third in the Division I state poll.
Liberty defeated South 3-1 last season, avenging a 3-2 loss by shootout to the Wildcats in a Division I district final in 2017.
"This team is doing a lot better than a lot of people predicted," Henderson said. "We have an extremely young team that's still learning the process. A lot of them are new to high school soccer. Even the underclassmen that are playing, they're starting to play well, they're playing together. We have certain players who are playing 60, 70 minutes consistently and are really growing into their position."
Girls golf team caps league play
The girls golf team finished fourth (6-14) in the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament behind Liberty (20-0), Westerville Central (15-5) and Olentangy (13-7) and ahead of North (4-16) and Olentangy Orange (2-18).
The Wildcats finished fourth (443) in the fourth round Sept. 4 at Royal American behind first-place Liberty (359).
McKhala Eckert led South with a 109 and finished with a 107.7 league average. Katherine Blais had a team-best 107.3 average.
Girls soccer team off to slow start
The girls soccer team was 0-6 before opening OCC-Buckeye play Sept. 10 against Olentangy.
The Wildcats entered the game seeking their first goal of the season.
South's most competitive games were 3-0 losses to North on Aug. 16, Hilliard Darby on Aug. 20 and Worthington Kilbourne on Aug. 22.
Below are the coming schedules for the South cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 14 -- Grandview Chase Race
Sept. 17 -- Canal Winchester at Westchester
Sept. 17 -- Westerville North at Royal American
Sept. 18 -- Lancaster at Royal American
Sept. 12 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson
*Sept. 17 -- At Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Liberty
Sept. 12- Home vs. Newark
Sept. 16 -- Home vs. Teays Valley
*Sept. 12 -- Home vs. North
*Sept. 17 -- At Westerville Central