The Westerville North boys soccer team has made a quick turnaround.
The Warriors, who finished 1-12-4 last fall, were 5-3-2 overall and 0-2-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division before playing Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 24. They have not had a winning season since finishing 13-4-3 in 2015 and were a combined 5-35-11 the past three years, including one-win seasons in 2017 and 2018.
"It's the difference in the community," senior forward Owen Thompson said. "The overall group, we're an actual family now.
"The new coaches that have come in -- coach Noah (Davidson) and (assistant) coach Nate (Hartnell) -- they really have changed the culture at Westerville North. We're connecting, we're passing, we're taking shots when we're supposed to. We're being a team."
Senior midfielder Jacob Gruber, who had two goals in a 5-0 victory at Watkins Memorial on Sept. 21, said the change in fortune has come from playing as a unit.
"It takes all 23 of us to get a result," he said. "We're not a team that's often going to come in and win 5-0 just based on talent and skill. It has taken all 23 of us to buy in, work and do what our coaches say.
"Hard work is our goal. We leave everything on the field for a full 80 minutes. What has changed this year is that we are all connected, our chemistry has improved our game on the field. Everyone has been selfless and has been setting up their teammates."
Davidson is familiar with winning soccer. The 2004 North graduate played on the program's last Division I state championship team in 2003 and also was an assistant at New Albany the past four seasons.
"We're building a culture that cares for each other, works hard for each other and competes in every game," Davidson said. "I think the guys have risen to the challenges that I have given them. They work hard and don't rely on other people to do the job, and they take pride in what they are doing. We worked a lot on organization, a lot on positioning and strategy, which has helped eliminate some of the issues of players not being in the right spots when they need to be."
Gruber pointed to the offseason as being crucial to the Warriors' success.
"There was much more team bonding outside soccer," he said. "For example, we have team dinners and multiple fundraisers. We're out in the community. We're all hanging out outside of soccer and we're taking the extra time to put in that extra work with each other on off days, and that has shown on the field this year."
Davidson said the Warriors still need to be more aggressive around the net.
"We need to work on finishing," he said. "(The win over Watkins Memorial) was good for us, but we have to capitalize on our opportunities against teams that are organized and strong on the defensive side. Sometimes on the offensive side, we don't put the ball in the back of the net when we get our chances."
Hutcherson, Miracle lead runners at invite
Isaiah Hutcherson and Paige Miracle led the boys and girls cross country teams in the Bob Reall Invitational on Sept. 21 at Lancaster.
Hutcherson placed 12th (17 minutes, 11.9 seconds) as the boys finished 10th (222 points) behind champion Worthington Kilbourne (88). Also scoring were Brandon Lam (41st, 18:38.6), Andrew Bracken (49th, 18:58.8), Corbin Paulicivic (57th, 19:05.6) and Ryan Iarussi (74th, 19:40.1).
Miracle was 22nd (21:10.9) for the girls, who finished 10th (252) behind champion Lancaster (88). Amanda Cooper (41st, 22:03.5), Audrey Smith (54th, 22:21.4), Hannah Hutto (66th, 22:35.7) and Samantha Dages (71st, 22:39.3) also scored.
Parry leads scoring for girls soccer team
Makayla Parry was the scoring leader through 10 games for the girls soccer team, which was 7-2-1 overall and 1-1 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing Liberty on Sept. 24.
Parry had six goals, Alison Rothmann had four and Alyssa Wright had three.
Goalkeeper Abby Markley had eight saves and earned her seventh shutout as North defeated Dublin Scioto 3-0 on Sept. 19.
Below are the coming schedules for the North cross country, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 28 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley
Sept. 26 -- Westerville Central and Westerville South at Medallion
Sept. 30 -- South and Worthington Kilbourne at Worthington Hills
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek. The top four teams and top four individuals not on those teams advance to district Oct. 8 at Apple Valley.
Oct. 1 -- Division I sectional at Royal American. The top three teams and top three individuals not on those teams advance to district Oct. 8 at New Albany Links.
Sept. 26 -- At Canal Winchester
Oct. 1 -- At Reynoldsburg
Sept. 26 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington
Oct. 1 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
Sept. 26 -- At Kilbourne
Oct. 2 -- At Olentangy Berlin
*Sept. 26 -- At Olentangy Liberty. The Warriors lost to the Patriots 25-9, 25-20, 25-11 on Sept. 10.
Sept. 28 -- At Berlin
*Oct. 1 -- Home vs. South. The Warriors defeated the Wildcats 21-25, 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 on Sept. 12.