The Hilliard Bradley girls soccer team made strides the last two years to earn its first league championship since 2014.
The Jaguars finished third in the OCC-Cardinal Division in 2017 and were league runners-up last season, both times behind champion Dublin Jerome. This year, they went 6-1 in the league to tie the Celtics for the championship.
"Winning the league is the first goal every year," said coach Becky Alcox, whose team is 7-4-4 overall. "You say it out loud every day and you work toward it. These seniors have been building for this. They were third place their sophomore year, second place last year and it's fitting that they are leaving with an OCC title."
Bradley concluded league play with a 1-0 win over Darby on Oct. 10. Senior midfielder Morgan Bowers scored and goalkeeper Emily Keck had seven saves.
"We have been struggling to find the back of the net, but the win over Darby helped a lot," Bowers said. "We know we can win and we can keep going."
Senior Janna Lundy has anchored the defense at center-back.
"(Winning a league title) gives us a confidence-boost going into the postseason," Lundy said. "We have had a lot of ties in the second half of the season, but we know we have to win now."
The Jaguars started 5-2-2, but went 2-2-2 in their final six regular-season games. They scored just three goals during that span and were shut out three times.
"We have been working on consistently finishing," Alcox said. "We lost or tied games that we should have won. We told them after (the Darby game) that losing or tying is no longer an option. You have to win in the postseason. You have to be physically and mentality prepared."
Bradley is seeded 10th in the Division I district tournament and will open at home against 26th-seeded Delaware or 35th-seeded Mount Vernon in a second-round game Saturday, Oct. 19. The Jaguars beat Delaware 1-0 in league play Sept. 17.
The second-round winner plays fifth-seeded Olentangy, 28th-seeded DeSales or 29th-seeded Hartley in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the better seed. The district final is Oct. 26.
"It's fuel to the fire, and we're OK to be the underdogs," Alcox said of being the 10th seed. "We lost to the top two (Division I) teams in the state (top-ranked Beavercreek, 3-1 on Aug. 19, and second-ranked White House Anthony Wayne, 3-0 on Sept. 2), so that's not so bad."
Volleyball team shares OCC title
The girls volleyball team heads into the Division I district tournament after winning its first league championship since 2013.
The Jaguars finished the regular season 20-2 overall and tied Dublin Scioto for in the OCC-Cardinal title at 13-1 after defeating Darby 25-15, 25-22, 25-19 on Oct. 10. Allie Holland had 11 kills, Riley Speelman had 25 assists and Clare Flanagan had 18 digs and three aces against the Panthers.
"I think our team chemistry is good," coach RyAnne Ufferman said. "They get along and they enjoy being around each other. They are a fun group. They are friends outside of volleyball and they enjoy the game. It's not a task. They have fun playing together. They are really finding a competitive energy that they need to be successful."
The Jaguars are seeded fourth in the district tournament and played host to 45th-seeded Columbus West in the first round Oct. 15. The winner plays host to 49th-seeded Franklin Heights in the second round Thursday, Oct. 17. The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 24.
Cross country teams prepare for district
The cross country teams will compete in the Division I district meet Saturday, Oct. 19, at Darby.
The boys are in district 2 and the girls are in district 1. From both races, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
The boys team finished fifth (108 points) in the OCC-Cardinal meet Oct. 12 at Davidson, behind champion Thomas Worthington (59), and was led by Gabe Paynter, who placed 10th in 16 minutes, 36.8 seconds.
Joshua George (17th, 16:54.4), Haydon Spaulding (20th, 17:01.9), Caden Burkhart (26th, 17:09.5) and Eli Schneider (35th, 17:24.7) also scored.
Caitlyn Jones (seventh, 19:16.4) led the girls team, which finished eighth (217) behind champion Thomas (51).
Also scoring were Madison Wester (65th, 23:23.9), Samantha Hosni (68th, 23:35.9), Byann Rasul (69th, 24:14.3) and Sara McClory (71st, 25:28.1).
Thai ends tennis season at district
Anh Thi Thai of the girls tennis team lost her state-qualifying match in the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Reynoldsburg.
The freshman defeated Lancaster's Mallory Thomas 6-2, 6-2 in the first round but lost to Olentangy Liberty's Danielle Schoenly 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 in a quarterfinal.
"Anh Thi played really well even in the first set that was 1-6, but (the match against Schoenly) was a lot closer than that," said second-year coach Colleen Baker, whose team finished 10-9 overall and fourth (4-3) in the OCC-Cardinal behind champion Jerome (7-0). "She had a lot of points that went to deuce and she was in it every single time. In the second set, she got up earlier and did a better job of closing out."
Thai won a sectional title Oct. 5 at home. Also at sectional, junior Nina Kisin and sophomore Madison Kennedy both went 2-1 in singles, senior Evelina Tumash and junior Jillian Wieta went 1-1 in doubles and juniors Reyann Askar and Dhriti Sanyasi went 0-1 in doubles.
Below is the coming schedule for the Bradley boys soccer team:
Oct. 15 -- Played 14th-seeded New Albany in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner plays 12th-seeded Reynoldsburg or 52nd-seeded Independence in second round Oct. 17 at home of better seed. Second-round winner plays eighth-seeded Olentangy Orange, 47th-seeded Columbus West or 48th-seeded Zanesville in district semifinal Oct. 22 at home of better seed. The Jaguars are seeded 16th.