By Michael Rich
New Hayes girls soccer coach Bradd Smiley knew there would be growing pains.
Even with a young team trying to learn new formations, though, he didn’t see Thursday’s 4-0 non-league loss to host Westerville Central coming.
“I don’t think they’re four goals better than us,” he said. “I think we’re a very talented group. We’re still seeking to find our identity.”
Lexi Todd scored the go-ahead goal with 31:37 left in the first half for the only goal the Warhawks needed.
“That first goal was just really unlucky,” Smiley said. “Just a swing and a miss from our fullback and the ball goes in.”
Central’s Kristen Nguyen cleaned up a Quinn Libby shot that deflected off the hands and legs of Hayes goalie Ahdrin Bordner in the first half-minute of the second half to make it 2-0.
“Bottom line is that they outplayed us,” Smiley said. “I’m really proud of our girls … we didn’t drop our heads. We battled through like it was 0-0.”
Leah Wunsch and Madison Burtner added second-half goals to allow the Warhawks (1-1) to cruise.
Bordner, a sophomore, stood tall on eight shot attempts in the first half to help the Pacers keep it close. In a three-minute stretch late in the first half, Bordner made a diving stop, a Toni Kuhns shot went off the post and Bordner stopped a header by Megan McMenemy, who was found by Madison Burtner.
“She had a really good first half,” Smiley said. “I think she had 17 shots and just got wore out. I think when you get as many shots as they had, (they’re) bound to get some to the back of the net.”
Junior Chloe Vessels saw action in goal for the Pacers in the second half, finishing with six saves.
The opportunities were few and far between for the Pacers. Junior forward Ashley Smiley got two of the team’s three shots on the Central goal (junior Savannah Carter had the other), all in the second half.
Warhawk sophomore goalie Arianna Kellum made a leaping one-handed stop on Smiley’s second shot with 23:22 remaining in the game to keep the lead at 3-0.
Smiley knows his team is talented despite its youth.
“We’re young — it’s going to take us awhile to really click — but I think once we do and sew up some of our play, we’ll be alright,” he said.
The Pacers open their home schedule on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. against Hilliard Bradley.
Olentangy, which had started the season with back-to-back losses, made up for them in a big way by handling visiting Big Walnut — the defending league champs — 3-0 Thursday in Lewis Center.
The Braves won the first set 25-21 before taking the second and third by respective scores of 25-18 and 25-20.
Sarah Hansel led the way with eight kills and four blocks while Lauren Judge finished with six kills and five blocks. Zoe Miller had a hand in what was a solid defensive showing with 17 digs.
Olentangy finished with 13 blocks and 41 digs as a team.
Orange 3, New Albany 0
The Pioneers picked up their fourth straight win to start the season Thursday, dropping New Albany 25-13, 25-17, 25-18.
Leah Howser and Carrigan O’Reilly led the attack with 10 kills apiece. Lauren Perone finished with 22 assists, Sophie Dahn had 19 digs and O’Reilly chipped in a team-best five aces.
Also: Worthington Kilbourne 3, Hayes 0; North Union 3, Buckeye Valley 2.
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.