A mindset centered on what senior forward Nick Wallace calls "peace and positivity" has been more than just a catch phrase for the Reynoldsburg boys soccer team.
The Raiders, seemingly well on their way to a fourth consecutive winning season, have a 10-member senior class that believes it has reached a new level of camaraderie.
"Everything we do is together," Wallace said. "Our team meals we dance around, we play games. It's always one team working together at practice. Our big thing is no negativity."
The results on the field back up the idea that the emphasis on building chemistry -- with a healthy amount of focus on executing -- has been paying off.
After beating Logan 6-0 on Sept. 14, the Raiders were 6-1-1 overall and averaging 3.5 goals per game. They were 1-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division before facing Grove City on Sept. 17.
Wallace had 10 goals through the first seven games, including two each in consecutive victories over Central Crossing (5-0 on Sept. 3), Gahanna (4-1 on Sept. 10) and Westland (4-0 on Sept. 12).
The win over Gahanna sent fourth-year coach Tony Labudovski poring through records to find out the last time the Raiders had beaten their perennially strong OCC-Ohio rival.
Reynoldsburg didn't beat Gahanna in a regular-season game in any of Labudovski's seasons as a player for the program from 1999-2002 or at any time since then.
The Raiders did defeat the Lions in a preseason game during Labudovski's senior year in 2002.
"It feels fantastic," senior defender Nate Russell said. "It means even more that it's our first win over (Gahanna in a long time). It made our coaches proud because they'd never beaten them (in the regular season). Overall it was a good team win."
During a 9-4-6 finish last fall that included reaching a Division I district semifinal, Reynoldsburg posted 11 shutouts but was shut out five times and was held to one goal seven other times.
"Our goal was to win the first game of the OCC schedule and we definitely accomplished that so we're starting off on the right foot," Labudovski said. "These guys have known each other for four years so it's the chemistry and the work ethic.
"They're just being patient on the ball, stretching the field out and attacking areas of the field where the other team is weak. Our movement off the ball is great and we're finishing goals. Last year it was very hard to finish goals. We had a great defense, but this year we're creating a lot of goal-scoring opportunities."
Senior forward Gabe McCarroll and junior forward Crofton McDevitt each scored one goal and junior goalkeeper Brady Frydl made two saves against Gahanna.
Then against Westland, freshman midfielder Nic Phantavong and junior forward Amir Abukar added one goal apiece to complement Wallace's output as Frydl again had two saves.
"A lot of the goals where we've gotten scored on have been on our mistakes," Wallace said. "We're just cleaning up and working together, ultimately. (The offense) is starting to come around. Our wingers and forwards are starting to get our movements right and everyone has been working hard together with each part working as a unit."
Boys golfers focus on getting better
The boys golf team completed the four-round OCC-Ohio tournament by shooting a 407 on Sept. 11 at Turnberry to finish last of six teams behind first-place Grove City (299).
Pickerington Central won the league title at 16-4, followed by Grove City (14-6), Gahanna (13-7), Pickerington North (13-7), Lancaster (4-16) and the Raiders (0-20).
"They're working hard and trying to get better at various aspects of their games and in being more consistent," coach Scott Brewer said. "I'm happy with the effort and willingness to take suggestions and instruction. We're having a good time and I'm not displeased with the season with all of their effort and in wanting to get better."
Junior Jamison Boykins led the Raiders in each round of league play, shooting 82 at Turnberry and averaging 80.3 overall to earn second-team all-league honors. His best score was a 73 in the second round Aug. 12 at Apple Valley.
Also at Turnberry, sophomore Alex Perez shot 95 for his best league score.
Sophomore Evan Litton, who shot 94 on Aug. 27 at Denison Golf Club for his best league score, and freshman Dylan Austin also played in all four league rounds.
Boys, girls runners developing packs
The boys and girls cross country teams have four meets, including the Bob Reall Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 21, at Lancaster, before the OCC-Ohio meet Oct. 12.
The boys showed their depth during the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 7 at Watkins Memorial as senior Wendesen King placed third in 16 minutes, 19 seconds and juniors Seth Davis (14th, 16:49.3) and Mars Davis (17th, 16:53.1) also finished in under 17 minutes.
Senior Grant Boone and juniors Mekhi Dejarnette and Dominic Sabo also competed in the Division I race as the Raiders finished seventh (216) of 19 teams behind champion Olentangy Liberty (53).
The girls were ninth (185) of 15 teams behind champion Lancaster (89) as junior Avril Moyer was runner-up (19:10.5) and sophomores Abby Robinson (33rd, 21:16.1) and Paige Castello (35th, 21:16.7) and junior Kristin Sheets (43rd, 21:24.1) finished within 10 seconds of one another. Also competing were juniors Alyse Powell and Macy Thompson.
Below are the coming schedules for the Reynoldsburg cross country, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster
Sept. 25 -- Walnut Ridge Invitational
Sept. 23 -- Westerville North at Blacklick Woods
Sept. 25 -- Hilliard Davidson at Blacklick Woods
*Sept. 24 -- At Pickerington Central
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Pickerington Central
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 23 -- At Worthington Christian
Sept. 24 -- At Canal Winchester
Sept. 25 -- Home vs. Westerville Central
*Sept. 19 -- At Gahanna. The Raiders lost to the Lions 25-9, 25-21, 25-18 on Sept. 3.
*Sept. 24 -- At Grove City. The Raiders lost to the Greyhounds 25-17, 25-18, 25-14 on Sept. 5.