The Columbus Academy field hockey team is heading back to the state tournament for the seventh time in nine seasons.
The Vikings avenged a loss to Olentangy Liberty by defeating the Patriots 4-0 in a district final Saturday at Dublin Scioto to improve to 15-1-2. They advances to a state semifinal at noon Friday against Thomas Worthington at Upper Arlington.
"It was all about redemption and just playing as a team," said Academy's Natasha Leickly, who scored two goals in the first half as her team took a 2-0 lead at halftime. "This was our best game of the season, by far."
Liberty defeated Academy 1-0 on Sept. 4.
"It was like night and day," Vikings coach Anne Horton said when asked to compare her team's two performances against Liberty. "We were just disorganized at the beginning of the season. We had a lot of young players who just weren't ready and (Liberty) was all geared up and ready to get us.
"The motivation for this game wasn't to win the district, it was to get that game back. I thought we played very well today. It was a great performance."
Leickly scored her first goal five minutes into the game and her second goal with 4:46 left in the first half. Rachel Terveer scored with 13:35 left in the second half to extend the lead to 3-0, and less than 90 seconds later Ali Dillon closed the scoring.
Liberty, which was making its first district final appearance, finished 14-4-1.
"(The players) have nothing to be ashamed about," Patriots coach Gena Bailey said. "They made it here, and that's a heck of an accomplishment. They're in the top eight. There are girls out there who would die to be in our position, to be in the district final. Would I have liked for the game to have gone a lot better? Absolutely, but the girls played their hearts out."
Academy played without its leading scorer, Layne Averill, who injured her left ankle in a 4-1 win over Upper Arlington in the second round Oct. 21. Averill, who leads the Vikings with 18 goals, will miss the remainder of the season, Horton said.
Liberty lost its second-leading scorer, Katie Dye, to a right leg injury in the second half. Dye finished the season with nine goals.
Academy has won eight state championships, including six since 2000.