First-year Westland girls soccer coach Nick Courtright stresses to his team that small steps make a big difference in a long process.

The Cougars have followed that path this season, as they were 1-5 overall before playing Zanesville West Muskingum on Sept. 12. They are 0-1 in the OCC-Central Division.

"We're getting there. We're making some good steps," Courtright said. "This group is focused on the long-term goal and not the short-term goal. They understand that if they hire a new coach and bring somebody in that we're not miraculously really good and really competitive with some of the more established programs right off the bat."

Westland defeated Whitehall 2-1 on Aug. 31 as Bella Garner scored both goals and goalkeeper Becky Paul had 12 saves. Those were the Cougars' first two goals of the season.

"Bella is one of those people who is quiet and really upbeat, and her physical play and effort on the field definitely leads us in the right direction," Courtright said.

Westland opened league play with a 15-0 loss at Marysville on Sept. 10.

Although the final score was lopsided, Courtright said there were some valuable coaching moments.

"We struggled early on and gave up a big chunk of goals and then we got our heads screwed on straight a little bit, started playing a lot better and then we gave up a chunk of goals at the end when our girls got tired," he said. "In between, we had a good 35, 40 minutes where it was shutout soccer."

Senior defender/midfielder Allison Vasquez said playing soccer has provided lifelong lessons.

"There is a lot of drive in our team," said Vasquez, who is planning to enlist in the United States Marine Corps. "I enjoy coach Courtright because he really pushes us to where we can be and how to get there. We want to have a little fire, a hunger for success."

Westland also lost to Whetstone 5-0 on Aug. 22, Canal Winchester 10-0 on Aug. 27, Galion 4-0 on Aug. 29 and Grove City 10-0 on Sept. 3.

"The team is still in good spirits," Courtright said. "They understand how much work we still have to do and their attitudes have been good. I take the losses worse than they do because I'm a really competitive person by nature. It's tough for me because I know that they have potential."

Football team to face Falcons

After three road games to begin the season, the football team will play its home opener Friday, Sept. 20, against Franklin Heights.

The Cougars defeated the Falcons 38-7 last season for their lone win.

"Our kids are always excited to play another South-Western school, especially Franklin Heights," said coach Rick Rios, whose team was 1-1 before playing Delaware on Sept. 13. "The thing that we have to guard against is knowing that Franklin Heights has probably had us circled on their calendar after (beating) them last year, so that will be one that won't be too hard to get our kids up for."

The Cougars lost at Marion-Franklin 37-34 on Sept. 6.

Westland lost a key contributor when running back Peterson Iresne left in the third quarter with a right ankle injury. Iresne is expected to miss some time, according to Rios.

Quarterback Buddy Workman rushed for 167 yards and three touchdowns, and Iresne added 125 yards rushing and a score.

"You can tell how much progress we've made this year because I thought we played horribly (against Marion-Franklin)," Rios said. "We made every mistake possible on both sides of the football and yet we still found a way to churn out 450 yards of offense and had a chance to win the ballgame at the end. I was really happy with our effort, but the execution was very much slacking."

Franklin Heights was 1-1 before playing Briggs on Sept. 13. The Falcons lost to Harvest Prep 42-12 on Sept. 6 as TalonDre Barker rushed for 75 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.

Boys soccer team working to improve

Consistency continues to be a main focus for the boys soccer team.

The Cougars were 2-3-1 overall before playing Reynoldsburg on Sept. 12. They are 0-1 in the OCC-Central after losing 5-0 to visiting Marysville on Sept. 10 as goalie Trent Beach had six saves.

The Cougars defeated Briggs 12-0 on Sept. 5.

"We're still working on being consistent, not only from game to game but half to half," coach Jamie Dato said. "We're trying to figure out how to start the games and play the first half the same way we play the second half. Each game is a tale of two halves, with the first half being Dr. Jekyll and the second half being Mr. Hyde."

Girls volleyball team continues to grow

The girls volleyball team was 4-7 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Central before playing Hilliard Davidson on Sept. 12.

"Every day is a learning process for us and we hope to continue to grow as a team," coach Nicole Zumpano said.

Through 10 matches, Alaina Russell led the Cougars in kills (50) and aces (16), Kenadee Winters led in assists (158), Kalista Prak led in digs (107) and Rylea Bott led in blocks (17).

Boys golf team closes league play

The boys golf team finished sixth (483) behind first-place Upper Arlington (303) in the final round of the four-round OCC-Central tournament Sept. 11 at Darby Creek.

Cory Daugherty led Westland with a 109.

The Cougars finished sixth (0-20) in the league behind UA (19-1), Dublin Coffman (17-3), Davidson (12-8), Marysville (8-12) and Central Crossing (4-16).

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

Schedules

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

CROSS COUNTRY

Sept. 18 -- Arrowhead Invitational at Whetstone

BOYS GOLF

Sept. 17 -- Central Crossing at Mentel Memorial

Sept. 18 -- Hilliard Davidson at Mentel Memorial

BOYS SOCCER

*Sept. 17 -- At Dublin Coffman

Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central

GIRLS SOCCER

*Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Coffman

Sept. 19 -- At Heath

GIRLS TENNIS

Sept. 16 -- Home vs. Grandview

Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Ready

*Sept. 19 -- At Coffman

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL

*Sept. 17 -- Home vs. Central Crossing

Sept. 18 -- Home vs. Groveport

*Sept. 19 -- At Marysville. The Cougars lost to the Monarchs 25-23, 25-15, 25-18 on Sept. 3.

*League contest