The Olentangy Berlin boys soccer team didn't celebrate its 4-0 victory over Watterson on Sept. 19.
The Bears took the victory in stride, starting their postgame stretching near midfield and listening to coach Josh Diehl's final comments before turning the page to their next contest.
That was a statement in itself considering Berlin had won its fourth consecutive game and had pushed its streak of games without a loss to six. It entered its game against Hilliard Darby on Sept. 24 at 7-1-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the OCC-Cardinal Division.
"We are building this program around a growth mindset," Diehl said. "Last season at this time, we were 1-5-4. Now, 10 games in, we are 7-1-2. As a young program, we are building and enforcing standards and expectations every day. We are learning how to train, compete and win."
The Bears entered the week in the thick of the OCC-Cardinal title race, having defeated Dublin Jerome 1-0 on Sept. 10 and Thomas Worthington 4-3 on Sept. 17 for a two-game league winning streak. Before Sept. 24, they were tied with Hilliard Bradley and Jerome for third behind Worthington Kilbourne (3-0-1) and Dublin Scioto (3-1).
"One of our goals is to challenge for an OCC title and we're doing a pretty good job of that right now," said senior midfielder Dom Antronica, who had three goals through 10 games. "I feel like we have to play to the best of our ability and treat every game like it's a district final. We have to play well enough to get a good (district) seed and get home games in the tournament. I think that will be important for us."
Last season, Berlin finished 7-9-4 and reached a Division II district final, where it lost to Bexley 1-0. This year, the Bears will play in the Division I postseason, and senior midfielder Luke Eisenhower said there's a sense of urgency within the team.
"It's all on the line this year," he said. "It's my last year because I'm not looking to play soccer in college. I'm looking to make some final memories.
"Culture has always been a big part of who we are. I feel like this year we have been working on getting on the same track and working toward the same goals. As we narrow in on that, we have been able to accomplish more."
Junior Kyle Rinehart, who anchors the defense, said the Bears are improving in their play as a team.
"I have been focusing on keeping the back line together, and we are shifting as a unit and keeping the line tight," he said. "Over time we have improved our chemistry, and that has helped us win games and keep goals out of the net.
"(Diehl) has been stressing intensity from the start. We like to press from right when the whistle blows so we have intensity early."
The Bears had 11 players score through 10 games. Junior forward Will Harrington led with six goals, and junior forward Mason Morris had four.
"What's different about us is that we don't have that one guy that we hang our hat on who has to score for us," Diehl said. "Instead, we have several guys scoring goals here and there, and that can hopefully make us unpredictable and dangerous.
"For a second-year program, it's rewarding to see the progression coming from day to day. It was a process last year, and it still is. If we commit to the process, it's going to love us right back. It's nice to get the results, but as long as we are trying to get better each day, the rest will take care of itself."
Girls golfers to begin postseason
The girls golf program will not have a complete team in the postseason. Instead, the Bears will have two individuals -- Reagan Clifton and Michele Starner -- participate in a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 1, at Royal American.
The top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
In the four rounds of OCC-Cardinal play, Clifton had an average of 103.25 and Starner averaged 104.75.
The Bears also compete in the Olentangy Cup on Thursday, Sept. 26, at Oakhaven.
Girls soccer team wins three in a row
The girls soccer team had won three consecutive games and was 7-4 overall and 2-2 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Darby on Sept. 24.
Cameryn Susey and Sydney Walker scored as the Bears defeated Thomas 2-1 on Sept. 17 in league play.
Walker had four goals in the winning streak, which also included victories over Newark (3-0 on Sept. 12) and Westerville Central (3-2 on Sept. 19).
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin cross country, field hockey, boys golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 28 -- Bear Den Dash at home
*Sept. 27 -- At Olentangy
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Dublin Coffman
Sept. 26 -- Delaware County Cup at Mill Creek
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Turnberry. The top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advance to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Sept. 26 -- At Pickerington North
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Watterson
Sept. 26 -- At Bexley
Sept. 30 -- At Watterson
Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Sept. 26 -- Home Hilliard Darby. The Bears lost to the Panthers 25-16, 25-17, 25-21 on Sept. 3.
Sept. 28 -- At Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 30 -- Home vs. Westerville North
*Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Dublin Scioto. The Bears lost to the Irish 25-17, 25-20, 25-23 on Sept. 12.