Even after the Columbus School for Girls lacrosse team was outscored 43-27 while losing its first three games, coach Brittney Zerhusen kept telling her players they could turn their season around if they simply did a better job taking care of the little things.
Zerhusen felt vindicated when the Unicorns did exactly that while rallying from a four-goal deficit with four minutes remaining to beat Hartley 13-12 on April 9.
CSG was 1-3 overall before playing Olentangy Orange on April 15 and 1-1 in the Central Independent League before playing Wellington on April 16.
"I've told the girls that we just need to put the small pieces together to become a seamless unit," Zerhusen said. "We need to take care of the little details, like running hard after every groundball and capitalizing on our opponents' mistakes. We did that against Hartley and it made the difference between a win and a loss."
Midfielders Erin Balasky (15 goals) and Sophia Sugar (15 goals) and attacker Jenny Henderson (3 goals) led CSG in scoring through four games.
Against Hartley, Balasky scored six goals and Sugar scored four, including the winner with seven seconds left.
Goalkeeper Erin Smith had three saves.
"We were down 12-8 with four minutes left, but our girls kept chipping away and fighting hard for every draw control and groundball," Zerhusen said. "We came together as a team, dug deep and stuck together to win this game."
Zerhusen hopes the Unicorns' league victory will give them confidence heading into their league game Thursday, April 18, at DeSales.
Last year, CSG beat DeSales 11-9.
"It's definitely a mental shift for us because losing our first three games was tough on the girls," Zerhusen said. "We lost to three tough teams, but our schedule is full of tough teams, so beating one of them gives our girls confidence that they can beat the better teams on our schedule."
Zerhusen said her team's defense must continue to improve.
The Unicorns gave up 12 or more goals in each of their first four games. They lost to Columbus Academy 15-8 on April 4, to Thomas Worthington 12-11 on April 5 and to Olentangy Liberty 16-8 on April 8.
"We're going to use what we learned the past few games and look to improve," Zerhusen said. "Our defense has been improving each game. Defensively, we're getting very good senior leadership from Jenna Ellis and Maddie McGregor. Erin Smith has started every game in goal (entering this week), and Charlotte Lennox has played well on defense, too."
Track squad opens with win
The track and field team opened its season April 13 by scoring 147 points to win the eight-team Hornet Invitational ahead of runner-up and host Licking Heights (124.5).
"I thought we would do fairly well in this meet, but I didn't know that we were going to win it," coach Elon Simms said. "I'm pretty impressed with how our girls competed in our first meet."
Placing first were Eleanor Smith in the high jump (4 feet, 10 inches), Alyssa Sugar, Katelyn Lennon, Abigail Perinni and Emma Harris in the 3,200-meter relay (10 minutes, 52.28 seconds), Cecilia Pesavento in the 100 hurdles (18.07), Rebecca O'Donovan in the 100 (13.36) and Emma Harris in the 800 (2:35.78).
"We did well all-around, especially in the sprints and middle-distance events," Simms said.
The Unicorns now have turned their attention to trying to win the Russ Owen/Bexley Relays on Friday, April 19, for the fourth consecutive season.
Last year, CSG won (76.5) the nine-team meet ahead of runner-up Ready (71).
"We've won the Bexley Relays the last three years, so we're hoping to do well there again," Simms said.