Despite battling a rash of injuries since the start of the season, Hilliard Darby girls soccer coach Kelsey Prichard is confident her team will be a threat when the Division I district tournament gets underway next month.
The Panthers were 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Jerome on Sept. 17.
"We are on the upswing," Prichard said. "We have dealt with a lot of injuries. We haven't had a game where we had all 18 people on our roster healthy, so we're looking forward to that. We are getting most of those injured players back, which is bringing a new energy. We're on the rise."
Darby opened league play with a 4-1 loss to Delaware on Aug. 27, but rebounded to defeat Worthington Kilbourne 2-1 on Sept. 3 and Dublin Scioto 4-1 on Sept. 10.
Naomi Walters had three goals and Carli Rigel scored one against Scioto, while sophomore goalkeeper Marissa Blake, who began the season on junior varsity, had nine saves.
"That was a nice win," Prichard said. "That was a highlight of the season. The girls played well for all 80 minutes. They put together a full, complete game."
Blake was filling in for goalies Alexis Stewart and Briana Turner, both of whom have missed time with ankle injuries.
Prichard expects both Stewart and Turner to return to action soon.
"Marissa was excited (about being promoted to varsity) and she was a little nervous," Prichard said. "She knew it was coming because she saw both of our goalies get hurt."
Gabby Simpson and Taylor Mahaffey each scored and Blake had two saves in a 6-2 loss to Pickerington North on Sept. 12.
"We want to do well all season. We have goals for the league and we want to peak at the right time," Prichard said. "We hope we get hot when it counts."
The Panthers, who lost to Davidson 4-1 on Aug. 29, close the regular season at Bradley on Oct. 10 in a league contest.
"It's a rivalry, obviously," Prichard said. "You get a lot of fan support and the girls have an extra edge to their game when we play a rivalry. It's a really fun atmosphere."
Boys team looking for strong finish
The boys soccer team was 2-6 overall and 1-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Jerome on Sept. 17.
The Panthers entered the week having lost their previous three games by one goal each.
Goalie Brian Watkins had nine saves in a 1-0 loss to Scioto on Sept. 10. Darby also lost to New Albany 2-1 on Sept. 12 and Kilbourne 3-2 on Sept. 3.
Boys golf team caps league play
The boys golf team shot a 345 in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Cardinal tournament Sept. 11 at Denison Golf Club to finish sixth behind first-place Jerome (299).
Jared Wells led the Panthers with an 80, followed by Marcus Hunter (86), Nick Stern (89), Adam Tivin (90) and Zach Brandewie (97).
Darby finished fifth in the overall league standings at 11-17, behind Jerome (27-1), Olentangy Berlin (22-6), Bradley (20-8) and Delaware (19-9) and ahead of Kilbourne (8-20), Thomas Worthington (4-24) and Scioto (1-27).
Tivin made honorable mention all-league with an 82.25 average.
Below are the coming schedules for the Darby cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Saturday Night Lights at Centerville
Sept. 23 -- OCC Shootout at Little Turtle
Sept. 25 -- Dublin Scioto at Glen Ross
Sept. 23 -- Canal Winchester at Westchester
Sept. 19 -- At Big Walnut
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 21 -- Home vs. DeSales
*Sept. 24 -- At Berlin
Sept. 19 -- At Marysville
Sept. 21 -- Kim Shepherd Doubles Classic at Davidson
Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Scioto. The Panthers lost to the Irish 25-15, 25-18, 25-22 on Aug. 27.