By Michael Rich
Wins have been hard to come by for the Olentangy Orange boys soccer team, but on a night that celebrated the team’s 14 seniors, three goals and plenty of defense led it to victory.
Senior Lukas Manarolla’s goal just over 10 minutes into the game stood up, leading the Pioneers to a 3-0 victory over county-rival Big Walnut Tuesday night in Lewis Center.
“We have a couple of ties that might come back to haunt us, but I think one thing we take pride in is not losing league games,” Pioneers coach Scott Bryant said. “Depending on how things went tonight, we’re still giving ourselves a little bit of a chance.”
Manarolla found daylight to the low, right part of the goal. Fellow senior Jack Brooks was credited with the assist.
“To get the first one is huge for our confidence,” Bryant said. “More important than the goal is to come back and not give up anything afterward. That goal was huge.”
BW goalie Michael Kline laid out to stop a Jack English attempt five minutes later to keep the Golden Eagles within striking distance.
Just over eight minutes into the second half, Kline was tested again. Timmy Martin led Eddie Pauly free on the left side. Kline tipped the shot and recovered in time to prevent the second goal.
Kline, a backup for most of the season, has been pushed into a starting role because regular Caleb Gibson is out with a concussion. Big Walnut coach Tyler DeLorenzo said Kline has handled himself well after being pressed into duty.
“I’m really proud of him,” DeLorenzo said. “This is only the second game that he’s had to step up and play, and I thought he (was) excellent.”
But Orange (3-5-5, 3-0-3) kept the pressure on, and after a trip in front of the box, Isaac Arefi finally put the Pioneers up by two with a free kick that sailed over a leaping Kline and into the back of the net.
“That second goal by Isaac was huge to kind of put it away,” Bryant said. “The guys put a lot of pressure on themselves because of expectations and just high stress. Anytime that we can produce that second goal is huge. It’s a weight off and we can relax and have a little fun.”
English added the final tally about two minutes later with an assist by sophomore Ryan Muller.
While these two teams are slated to play again next season, because of the OCC realignment, this was the final game as a part of league play.
Big Walnut (6-6-1, 2-3-1) has never beaten Orange in seven games between the schools, with two ties in 2009 and 2011.
The win kept the Pioneers within range of a league title with two games to play. District-rival Olentangy is also undefeated in league play, but has one more victory and fewer ties.
“We haven’t had a lot of success against them in the win column, but hopefully we’ll change that next year,” DeLorenzo said. “We have a young team and most of our guys are returning.”
Both teams are back at it Thursday night, hosting non-league opponents. The Golden Eagles face off against Thomas Worthington and the Pioneers welcome Westerville Central.
Hayes 9, Franklin Heights 0
Ryan Krewson and Nick Kaylor scored two goals apiece as the Pacers pounded the host Falcons 9-0 in OCC-Capital Division action Tuesday in Columbus.
Ousman Jellow, Justin McKee, Brody Kannally, Ryan Williams and Sam Milner also scored in the win, while Curtis Herzog added a pair of assists.
Liberty 2, Dublin Coffman 2
Trevor Collins scored in the 76th minute to help Liberty battle back for a 2-2 tie against host Coffman Tuesday in Dublin.
Cameron Cantrell also scored for the Patriots, who are now 7-1-1 in their last nine games against the Shamrocks.
Emma Waters booted a corner kick into the box and Meredith Shook hammered home the game winner as Liberty stayed perfect in OCC-Central Division play with a 3-2 win over visiting Dublin Coffman Tuesday in Powell.
Orange 3, Big Walnut 0
Taylor Foreman scored a pair of goals and Katie Calvert added another as Orange rolled to a 3-0 OCC-Capital Division win over host Big Walnut Tuesday in Sunbury.
Hannah Sargent collected three saves for the Pioneers while the Golden Eagles’ Colleen White and Jordan Foxworthy stopped three and eight shots, respectively.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.