Junior Nathan Rothert’s two first half goals paced the visiting Olentangy Liberty boys soccer team to a 3-0 win at rival Olentangy in OCC-Buckeye action Tuesday night in Lewis Center.
“I’m happy with where we’re at,” Liberty coach Marc D’Auteuil said. “To come out here and grind out a win and really not – outside of one of their throws that dropped in the box – give them many chances.”
Rothert broke a scoreless tie connecting on an Ean Dowell throw-in with 26:22 left in the first half to give the Patriots the only goal they needed.
“I thought for the first 15 minutes, we were kind of shaky,” Rothert said. “But once we got that first goal – the wheels started turning our way.”
Colin McCort got one through the defense to Rothert, who dribbled right side and beat the goalie to push it to 2-0 with 0:53 left before halftime.
Tyler Harris put one through in the midst of a pile in front of goal at the 36:09 mark of the second half to cap the scoring.
Liberty (11-1-2, 4-0-1) clinched its first league title since 2014 (then as a member of the OCC-Central) in last Tuesday’s win over Westerville Central.
“We have good kids … and they’re coachable,” D’Auteuil said. “(Winning a title) is one of our goals. It’s a tough conference. I think we had four teams in the (top 11) when it comes to seeding (in the upcoming Central District tournament).”
The win is the ninth shutout of the season for the Patriots, who were at one point the No. 1 team in the country in the USA Today/United Soccer Coaches Super 25.
“We’re still a work in progress, I think,” DAuteuil said. “I don’t think, by any means, we’ve played our best soccer yet this year. At points, we’ve looked really good, but putting together something that’s been for the full game – we still haven’t done that yet.”
Liberty is currently fourth ahead of 18th-ranked Dublin Coffman. The two teams meet in non-league action Saturday at 7:15 p.m. in Powell to close out the regular season.
Meanwhile, Olentangy (8-2-5, 1-1-3) has quietly built a really solid season. The three goals given up Tuesday were the most the Braves have allowed in a single game this season.
“We made two mistakes in the first half that created their goals,” Olentangy coach Pat Shick said. “Good teams capitalize.”
Liberty picked up its seventh straight win over Olentangy to move to 11-1-2 overall in the series.
“I think a little bit of it is the aura of Olentangy Liberty … I think it’s always going to be a tough game,” Shick said. “At some point we’ve got to figure out a way to end that thought process.”
Olentangy hosts Big Walnut in non-league play Thursday at 7:15 p.m. to close out the regular season.
The Patriots are the top seed and Olentangy is the eighth seed in the upcoming Central District Division-I tournament.
Olentangy hosts 45th-seeded Marion Harding in the first round Oct. 18 and Liberty hosts either 32nd-seeded Central Crossing or 40th-seeded Whetstone in the second round Oct. 21.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichnotwealthy or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.