As a member of his school's a cappella choir and Young Life chapter the last few years, Gahanna Lincoln senior Jarrett Lukacsko believes he's had opportunities to grow in the area of leadership.
That skill has come in handy this season as a midfielder for the Lions' boys soccer team.
Gahanna lost to Dublin Jerome 3-2 on Sept. 12 and was 2-6-1 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division before playing Pickerington North on Sept. 17.
"We have to make aggressive runs more often, and also it's that passion piece," Lukacsko said. "A lot of our guys have passion, but it comes in spurts and we need it to come all the time. If we have a bad game or just make a little mistake, I initiate and so do the other captains around me or sometimes we'll initiate a team meeting and sort out all of the problems we're going through."
Lukacsko has been a starter since midway through his freshman year and was named first-team all-OCC-Ohio last season as the Lions went 5-6-6 overall and 2-1-2 in the league to tie Grove City for second behind Pickerington North (5-0).
Gahanna opened league action Sept. 10 with a 4-1 loss to visiting Reynoldsburg. Senior midfielder Josh Gates, who along with Lukacsko and senior defender Noah Erick are the team's biggest leaders, received a red card late in the first half against the Raiders and had to sit out the next two games.
"We've really had a hard time finding the goal," coach Matt Kovach said. "Despite our struggles, the team is together. They want to get things turned around. That energy is good."
Lukacsko grew up around the sport.
His brother Jace, a 2016 Gahanna graduate, was a starter when the Lions won a district title in 2015, and his brother Jensen, a 2018 Gahanna graduate, competed for Crew SC Academy and is now playing for Bowling Green.
"My brothers and my parents have definitely been a big influence on my character and my competition in soccer," said Lukacsko, who has spent time at both center defensive midfielder and center attacking midfielder. "My parents started us off in a (recreation) league and all my siblings and myself just fell in love with the game."
According to Kovach, the Lions are setting their focus on "salvaging our season."
Against Jerome, senior forward Matt Haun and junior forward Harrason Ahn each scored. It marked just the second time this season that Gahanna scored more than one goal in a game.
The Lions beat Westland 3-0 on Aug. 22 and defeated Westerville Central 1-0 on Sept. 3.
Kovach has been especially happy with what Lukacsko has provided as his team continues to find its footing.
"We've gotten tremendous leadership with our senior captains and the seniors that have been here for four years," Kovach said. "Jarrett's having a great season. We've struggled with results and putting it in the goal, but Jarrett's an all-district player and one of the best players in central Ohio, for sure."
Girls soccer team overcoming adversity
Missing two of its top expected players for almost the entire season hasn't dampened the girls soccer team's outlook.
Senior midfielder Taylor Molli suffered a season-ending injury in a season-opening 1-0 win over Canal Winchester on Aug. 16, while junior midfielder Alexei Whittaker has yet to play this season because of an injury.
Molli is a Xavier commit and Whittaker was the team's leading scorer last season.
Coach Nick Eley is hopeful that Whittaker will be able to contribute at some point this season.
Gahanna beat Pickerington Central 3-0 in an OCC-Ohio contest Sept. 14 and was 5-2-2 overall and 2-0 in the league before facing Pickerington North on Sept. 17.
According to Eley, among the standouts for the Lions have been senior forwards Emily Beach and Katie Stafford, junior forward Natalie Stewart, senior midfielder Kynsie Jonke, junior midfielder Hannah Cumbow, senior defender Peyton Marquez and junior defender Thalia Johnson.
"It's been a group effort," Eley said. "One of the things I'm most proud about is the respect we have for ourselves and other teams. A referee came up in one game and said that the team is super respectful to the officials and the other team.
"The effort, hard work and character we've been showing, I've been really proud of the girls."
Boys golfers seek continued growth
The boys golf team shot a 320 in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Sept. 11 at Turnberry to finish fourth behind first-place Grove City (299) but secured a tie for third overall.
The Lions and Pickerington North both went 13-7 in league play to finish behind Pickerington Central (16-4) and Grove City (14-6).
Gahanna, which won the past two league titles, has just one senior in its lineup and has been concentrating on maturing in the mental aspects of the game with the postseason approaching.
"We want to continue to grow as a group to build mental strength and learn from experience," coach Judy Ratzenberger said. "Coach (Lori) Scott and I want our team to continue to resist the lure of focusing on expectations. Instead, we want all players focusing on a shot-by-shot mentality and playing in the moment."
Junior Mitchell Soma and senior Dylan Errington averaged 77 and 78, respectively, in OCC-Ohio play to make first-team all-league. Junior Max Hahn (81.3) and sophomore Evan Henry (83.5) both were honorable mention all-league.
Sophomore Kyle Lark also has been a key contributor.
"Dylan Errington, Mitchell Soma, Max Hahn and Evan Henry have shown much growth and continue to improve," Ratzenberger said. "Kyle Lark has also shown a mentality on the course that will lead to great play in the future."
Below are the coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central
Sept. 21 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 23 -- OCC Shootout at Little Turtle
Sept. 23 -- Jerome Invitational at Darby Creek
Sept. 24 -- Pickerington Central at Turnberry
Sept. 24 -- Canal Winchester at Westchester
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Grove City
Sept. 21 -- At Watterson
*Sept. 24 -- At Grove City
Sept. 19 -- At Granville
Sept. 23 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 24 -- At Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 25 -- Home vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg. The Lions beat the Raiders 25-9, 25-21, 25-18 on Sept. 3.
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Pickerington North. The Lions beat the Panthers 25-17, 25-14, 18-25, 22-25, 15-8 on Sept. 5.