Through five games, the Columbus Academy girls lacrosse team was winning with relative ease.

Through five games, the Columbus Academy girls lacrosse team was winning with relative ease.

Although the opponents might not have given the toughest of tests, posting final scores like 17-1, 17-5 or 16-1 still was impressive. Everything was going smoothly -- maybe too smoothly. Academy played host to defending Division II state champion New Albany on April 15 and lost11-7.

"Every time you stub your toe, you reevaluate where you're not getting the job done," coach Anne Horton said. "The foundation of the team was in question and that's why we played poorly. Give New Albany credit, they came out to play and win.

"It was very disappointing against New Albany in a game I thought we should have won. We played poorly and we had some team chemistry issues going on that hurt us."

New Albany was the first strong opponent the Vikings' had faced, and important lessons were learned.

"It taught us what we need to work on," senior Laura Caplinger said. "We have to tighten up our defense and in a good way for us it up things in perspective. The two days (after the New Albany game) in practice we've been going after it."

Three days later, Academy responded by a 16-13 win over Worthington Kilbourne to improve to 6-1. That game was evident of how the Vikings want to play. Layne Averill scored four goals and Caplinger, Liz Vleugels and Alex Marchetti scored three.

"We've been averaging five to six different girls scoring," Horton said. "We really don't have one or two girls that are our main scorers. It's very well distributed and that's difficult to defend when we have so many counter attacks."

Kilbourne's 13 goals were the most Academy has allowed this season. Horton has been pleased by the play of junior goalkeeper Alannah Linkhorn.

"She is quick-footed and enjoys the hot seat," Horton said. "She wants to be in that position and her game is getting better and better. She's really handling the pressure well."

Linkhorn is facing pressure even in practice as sophomore Alex Rife is pushing for playing time.

"The other thing making her better is Alex Rife is just good enough to push Alannah along," Horton said. "It makes for great battles in practice."

Academy, which faced Wellington last Tuesday, will play host today to Upper Arlington and Saturday to Dublin Jerome before traveling Tuesday to Thomas Worthington.

Upper Arlington, the Division I state runner-up last season, changed coaches in the offseason as Lynda McCandlish replaced Wendy Gallapoo.

McCandlish inherited a talent-rich team as seniors Lindsay Godard (Penn), Caitlin Oberlin (Lehigh) and Nancy Baker (Brown) have signed with Division I programs.

Upper Arlington improved to 6-1 with an 18-5 win over Dublin Coffman on April 17.

Jerome is led by senior Gabby Sinmaz, who became the program's first Division I recruit when she signed last December with Cincinnati. Last year, she had 17 goals, seven assists, 17 interceptions and 25 forced turnovers and was first-team all-OCC, first-team all-district and honorable mention all-America. The Celtics improved to 6-2 with a 10-9 win over Mason last Saturday.

Thomas has the oldest girls lacrosse program in Ohio. In their 35th season, the Cardinals have high expectations and were 8-3 after an 11-7 loss to Cincinnati Sycamore on April 18.

Academy's offense will be tested by Thomas' defense, led by senior Kelsey Brinkman. Offensively, junior Anna Geissbuhler is a prolific scorer -- she had 65 goals last season.

It is a challenging three-game stretch for Academy and the Vikings feel prepared.

"I believe in the team and I think we can do it," Caplinger said. "It all comes down to being confident in ourselves and knowing we can do it. We know how to play defense, how to shoot and score. We need to work together, have fun and be confident."