The rivalry has been distinctly one-sided in boys soccer. Olentangy Orange has won once and tied once in seven meetings with older brother Olentangy Liberty, and had never won in Powell.
That all changed Tuesday night.
Brian Juttner’s first-half goal ended up being the difference as the Pioneers hung on for a 1-0 victory 0ver the host Patriots.
“It means a lot,” Juttner said. “I was at the right place at the right time and I had to keep my composure to finish it.”
And Orange had to keep its composure to overcome a fury of Liberty scoring chances in the final minutes to preserve its first win over its rival since 2010.
“It’s great to have our captain, Brian … he’s such a rock in the back for us,” Orange coach Scott Bryant said. “To have him come up and get that goal for us is pretty awesome.”
The rivalry takes on even more meaning now that the two are in the new OCC-Buckeye Division. Orange now holds a game advantage in the league standings.
“I think it’s a huge thing (for our team) especially … getting some confidence,” Bryant said. “Liberty’s obviously been the class of, not only Olentangy, but the area. To be able to get them on their home field is big … it’s a huge confidence-builder for these guys.”
Orange’s Nathan Taylor sent his corner kick toward the net and it was stopped by a wall of Patriot defenders. But, Juttner was there to send the rebound in on the left side for the game’s only goal with 17:22 left in the first half.
“We don’t have that true striker, so we have to scrap and claw to get goals however we can. That goal kind of proves it,” Bryant said. “We had a center-back coming in off a set-piece, which is how we want it.”
Liberty had its chances, especially late. The Patriots had at least seven scoring chances in the final 10 minutes of play, but couldn’t cash in.
“I told my defenders early on that I was going to ride them,” Bryant said. “I was a little worried that they were going to wear down there. (Liberty) is a great team (and) Rick (Collins) is a great coach, so we knew they weren’t going to quit.”
Colin McCort got by the defense before dropping a pass off to Cole Paluch, but he couldn’t get a shot off with about eight minutes remaining. Caleb Sayre had a shot go off the left post a couple minutes later.
“Once they took that lead, we figured they’d pack it in a little in the second half,” Collins said. “I think it was with about 15 minutes left, we made a change and went three in the back and started to press forward a little bit and it created more chances.”
The Patriots had one shot miss wide and another miss high. They had Oliver Person with a clear shot on the right side, but the pass was just a little out of reach as he tried to slide to get a shot off.
“I think we played with more urgency,” Collins said. “We had the chances, we just have to finish.”
Liberty had chances early, too. McCort centered a pass to Stephen Psyhogios and he sent a shot that looked destined for the goal in the third minute.
But, Orange goalkeeper Nick Cutler dove to his right and stopped the shot to keep the Patriots off the scoreboard. Cutler stopped five shots for the Pioneers.
Liberty goalkeeper Logan Jennings had a solid game as well, making two of his five saves early in the second half, including punching Orange’s Jeffrey Vu’s free kick away to keep the Patriots within a goal.
Both squads are back in action Saturday facing non-league opponents. Liberty resumes its game at Mason at 4 p.m. after it was postponed due to weather last Saturday. Orange hosts Medina at 2 p.m.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.