The Watterson High School field hockey team made sure to give Columbus Academy midfielder Courtney Deena and attacker Hana Sinno special defensive attention in the state final Nov. 3 at Upper Arlington.
The strategy paid dividends for the Eagles for most of the game, as they held the duo scoreless through regulation and a 10-minute overtime period.
However, Sinno scored with 6 minutes, 5 seconds remaining in the second overtime to lift Academy to a 2-1 victory.
Charlotte Vaziri assisted on the goal, as she stole the ball and raced 40 yards down the field before passing to Sinno, who beat goalkeeper Bridget Wagy with a low shot just inside the right post.
Academy captured its ninth state championship and finished 19-0-1. Watterson finished 19-2 after losing in the state final for the fifth time since 1999. The Eagles won state titles in 1995, 2005 and 2009.
"We had a mark on (Deena and Sinno) the whole game and we did a real good job on them," coach Janet Baird said. "It was hard to keep them from scoring as the game kept extending into more overtimes, and it's tough to stop talented players like they have on a breakaway. I'm proud that our defense was able to hold them for so long, but I'm a little disappointed that we didn't score more because we missed out on some good opportunities."
Vaziri scored with 4:03 remaining in the first half to put Academy ahead 1-0 at halftime.
But the Eagles applied offensive pressure throughout the majority of the second half and scored the tying goal with 9:01 remaining, as Olivia Pardi passed the ball to Alessandra Margello, who one-timed a shot past goalie Sarah Guendert.
"After we fell behind, we kept playing our hearts out because we knew it wasn't over," Margello said. "Someone crossed it to me and I was open, so all I had to do was hit it in."
With 15:30 left in the second half, Guendert made a kick save on a point-blank shot by Leah Delp. Guendert, who finished with four saves, also stopped a shot by Elizabeth Racher with 11:00 left in regulation.
Wagy also had four saves for Watterson, which had eight penalty corner opportunities compared with 14 for the Vikings.
"We needed to score on some of those penalty corners because when you play a team like Columbus Academy, you have to take care of your chances," Baird said.
The Eagles beat Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 1-0 in a state semifinal Nov. 2 at UA, as Emily Engert scored with 28:46 remaining in the second half.
"That was a tough game, but I was confident in my team," Engert said. "The ball was crossed to me from the right side of the field and I got my stick on it and beat the goalie on her weak side."
Stephanie Polletta assisted the goal by avoiding a defender and passing the ball to Engert.
"I saw the right side of the field was open and I took it as hard as I could," Polletta said. "I saw a look of determination on Emily's face and I knew she was going to hit it in. Emily jumped on me after she scored and almost broke my neck, but it was still the best feeling ever."
Boys soccer team falls in regional semi
The boys soccer team lost to Cincinnati Indian Hill 1-0 in a Division II regional semifinal on Oct. 31 at Lebanon.
The Eagles finished 12-5-3 after giving up a goal with 16 minutes left. Their best scoring chance came with one second remaining, but a shot by Conner DeSantis sailed a few feet over the crossbar.
"One of our starting forwards, Tommy Geraghty, couldn't play because he was sick, and we had a couple other guys who played at less than 100 percent because they were sick," senior midfielder Dominic Smith said. "We wish we could have had those guys healthy, but I don't want to make excuses. They created more chances and finished one of them, and we didn't do a good job of finishing, and that was the difference."
Football team falls in playoff opener
The football team lost to Bryan 41-24 in its Division III, Region 10 playoff opener Nov. 3 to finish 7-4.
Bryan, which is seeded fourth in the region and improved to 11-0, took a 13-0 lead and never trailed even though Watterson finished with 316 total yards. The Eagles were the fifth seed.
Quarterback Andy Elberson connected with Michael Vlahakis on a 4-yard touchdown pass that cut the Eagles' deficit to 20-10 in the second quarter and finished 16-for-26 passing for 132 yards.
Elberson also rushed for 105 yards and two touchdowns. His 11-yard scoring run cut it to 20-17 in the third quarter and his 1-yard run touchdown run early in the fourth quarter made it 27-24.
However, Bryan quarterback Austin Schimmoeller rushed for a 27-yard score to increase the lead to 34-24.
Schimmoeller was 18-for-25 passing for 247 yards with three touchdowns. Elijah Bogosian had seven receptions for 85 yards and Daniel Pendergrast had five catches for 97 yards.
Watterson had 184 yards rushing but lost three fumbles, including one that was returned 44 yards for a touchdown by Bryan's Dakota McNany in the fourth quarter.
Vlahakis had six catches for 58 yards.