During a season in which it has posted eight shutouts, including one stretch of five in a row, the Olentangy Liberty boys soccer team has endured a limited amount of difficulty in its games.
The Patriots didn't let their first loss, a 2-1 defeat Sept. 26 at home against Dublin Jerome, linger for long.
After falling behind early to Westerville Central in its next game Oct. 3, Liberty senior forward Jaggar Brooker ended up with a hat trick in a 3-1 victory.
Taking control of the action, as Liberty has done so often during an 11-1-1 start, is a strategy that senior center back Blake Collins believes his team will lean on moving forward.
"Our team has been pretty successful this year," Collins said. "We're starting to settle down and play around teams with our passing. Our defense as well has gotten better and better throughout the season. We're starting to play the game smarter."
Liberty wrapped up the outright OCC-Buckeye Division title with the win over Central and takes a 4-0 league mark into its game Thursday, Oct. 10, at Olentangy.
The Patriots then will have a chance to measure where they stand heading into the postseason when they travel to Cleveland St. Ignatius on Saturday, Oct. 12, for their regular-season finale.
St. Ignatius was 11-0-2 before playing Parma Normandy on Oct. 9 and was second in last week's Division I state poll while Liberty was fifth.
The Patriots landed the No. 2 seed for the district tournament behind Worthington Kilbourne, which was 13-0-2 before playing Thomas Worthington on Oct. 8 and was third in last week's state poll.
The Patriots open the postseason Oct. 17 with a second-round home game against 39th-seeded Northland or 40th-seeded Westland.
While Brooker leads the offense with 12 goals, seniors Tyler Harris (center midfielder) and Ludwig Conrad (forward) are others along with Collins who have led the way for a team hungry to make another long run after reaching a state semifinal last season.
"We set goals within the team of what we're looking to do this year in the postseason," Collins said. "Our key to get where we want to go is our energy. Within our team, we definitely have the talent to do what we want, but we need to bring the high energy and work ethic to every game."
Golf teams reach district
The boys and girls golf teams competed in Division I district tournaments Oct. 8 after earning runner-up finishes at the sectional level.
The boys competed at district at Apple Valley, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 18 and 19 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
In a sectional Oct. 1 at Darby Creek, Liberty shot 303 to finish behind Dublin Coffman (299). Orange also shot 303, but the Patriots won the tiebreaker by having the better fifth-player score.
Junior Hunter Corbin led Liberty with a 72 to tie for second and junior Grant Smeltzer shot 73 to place sixth. Junior Andrew Blosser and sophomores Ben Armbruster and Jack O'Donnell all shot 79 to tie for 21st.
In a girls sectional Oct. 1 at Mentel Memorial, the Patriots (342) were runners-up to Upper Arlington (297).
At district at New Albany Links, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 18 and 19 on Ohio State's Gray Course.
Junior Gracie Baun led Liberty at sectional with a 79 that placed her sixth, followed by sophomore Taya Buxton (10th, 84), senior Sophie Dudon (tied for 14th, 88) and juniors Abigail Corbin (18th, 91) and Juliana Renda (tied for 23rd, 94).
Atway, Schoenly make district in singles
After winning back-to-back Division I state doubles championships, juniors Maddie Atway and Dani Schoenly will represent the girls tennis team at district Thursday, Oct. 10, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Reynoldsburg in singles.
In a sectional Oct. 3 and 5 at Reynoldsburg, Atway lost to Pickerington North's Cassie Alcala 6-4, 6-4 for the championship and Schoenly defeated Olentangy's Nour Khayat 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 in the third-place match.
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to state Oct. 18 and 19 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Also in singles at sectional, senior Naga Pokala lost to Alcala 6-1, 6-0 in the first round.
In doubles, sophomore Morgan Porter and freshman Charvi Thumati and junior Emma Clark and freshman Kylie Wilson lost their second-round matches.
Below are the coming schedules for the Liberty cross country, field hockey, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 12 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. ninth-seeded Olentangy or 12th-seeded Bexley in second round of district tournament. The Patriots are seeded fifth.
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Olentangy
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Watterson
Oct. 16 -- Home vs. 41st-seeded Marion Harding in first round of Division I district tournament. The Patriots are seeded 20th.
*Oct. 10 -- Home vs. Olentangy. The Patriots beat the Braves 25-21, 25-11, 25-18 on Sept. 17.
Oct. 12 -- Home vs. Rocky River Magnificat
Oct. 17 -- Home vs. 28th-seeded Mount Vernon or 48th-seeded Harding in second round of Division I district tournament. The Patriots are seeded fifth.