The Westerville Central boys soccer team appears to be gearing up for a strong run heading into the Division I postseason.
The Warhawks entered their OCC-Buckeye Division contest Sept. 17 against Olentangy Orange looking to extend a three-game winning streak, as they were 5-4-1 overall and 1-0 in the league.
The recent success is happening even though Central has been hit hard by injuries. Coach Dave Pence said his team had yet to play a game with its full lineup.
"We haven't had a full starting lineup yet (because of injuries)," he said. "We've made a bunch of changes. There have been a ton of things we've been working on. In our first 10 games, we had the same starting lineup twice. We've been short at least two players out of our starting lineup every game."
The defense has played a key role for Central. Entering their game against Orange, the Warhawks had not allowed more than one goal in their previous four contests with two shutouts, giving them four shutouts on the season.
"We've solidified our defense," Pence said. "We were scoring more, but we were giving up a lot of goals. I've always been a defensive coach first and I went away from my philosophy, trying a couple new things as far as the offense goes. I went back to the drawing board and built (from) the back forward."
The Warhawks opened league play with a 1-0 win over Westerville North on Sept. 10, as Aidan Nowell scored and goalkeeper Sam Rojanasakdakul had five saves.
"North is a rivalry game," Pence said. "That could go either way."
The recent success also included wins over Dublin Jerome (1-0 on Sept. 5) and Watterson (2-1 on Sept. 12).
Against Jerome, Michael Nguyen scored and Rojanasakdakul (7) and Jack Fowler (2) combined for nine saves.
"Our guys played very well against Jerome. They played very organized," Pence said. "Jerome is a really good team and they did exactly what we asked of them."
Nguyen and Aaron Milliren scored against Watterson, and Rojanasakdakul and Fowler each had two saves.
Pence said the Warhawks had the same lineup for the first time this season against Jerome and North.
The Warhawks will face a key test when they visit Olentangy Liberty on Oct. 3. The Patriots, who entered the week 7-0-1 overall and 1-0 in the league, were third in last week's Division I state poll.
Central plays host to Westerville South on Oct. 7.
Boys golfer earns top honor in league
Junior boys golfer Josh Qian capped his strong play in the four-round OCC-Buckeye tournament by earning league Player of the Year honors with a 72 average.
Liberty's Grant Smeltzer was second at 73.25.
Ryan Dollenmayer (78.25) was second-team all-league for Central, and Quinn Gallagher (83.5) was honorable mention all-league.
Central finished third at 11-9, behind Liberty (19-1) and Orange (17-3) and ahead of Olentangy (9-11), North (3-17) and South (1-19).
In the final round Sept. 11 at Darby Creek, the Warhawks finished fourth (324) behind first-place Liberty (290) as Qian was medalist with a 70. Dollenmayer carded a 76, followed by Gallagher (86), Heath Jeffers (92) and Brady Urian (92).
Girls soccer team ends winless streak
The girls soccer team snapped a five-game winless streak with a 3-0 victory over Delaware on Sept. 12.
The Warhawks were 3-4-1 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Orange on Sept. 17.
Through eight games, Kate Schimmel led Central with four goals and Rylee Mensel had three.
In goal, Elena Summanen had 12 saves and Taylor Hickman had nine.
Below are the coming schedules for the Central cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 21 -- Girls: Celtic Clash at Dublin Jerome
Sept. 21 -- Howlett Invitational at Worthington Hills
Sept. 21 -- Marysville Invitational at Darby Creek
Sept. 24 -- Olentangy Orange at Royal American
*Sept. 24 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin
*Sept. 24 -- At Olentangy
Sept. 19 -- At Berlin
Sept. 21 -- Kim Shepherd Doubles Classic at Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 23 -- At Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 25 -- At Reynoldsburg
*Sept. 19 -- Home vs. Westerville North. The Warhawks defeated the Warriors 25-15, 25-21, 25-15 on Sept. 3.
Sept. 21 -- At Licking Heights
Sept. 24 -- At Orange. The Warhawks lost to the Pioneers 25-20, 25-14, 25-12 on Sept. 5.