Coach Chad Schuler of the New Albany High School boys soccer team knows what teams around the area think when they look at the Division I district tournament bracket.

Coach Chad Schuler of the New Albany High School boys soccer team knows what teams around the area think when they look at the Division I district tournament bracket.

Of the 16 teams that reached a district final, New Albany was probably the biggest surprise. The Eagles went just 4-11-1 during the regular season and were seeded 22nd out of 38 teams in the Central District. Not only that, but New Albany is in its first season at the Division I level.

Still, Schuler said the Eagles never lost confidence, and they showed what type of soccer they are capable of playing by beating Delaware 2-0 in the second round last Saturday.

"Nobody expected us to be here, nobody gave us a chance," Schuler said after the win. "They looked at our record, they said, 'Oh, they're nobody.' We know how we can play. We're starting to really get there."

New Albany played eighth-seeded Dublin Coffman in a district semifinal last Wednesday. The winner plays at 7 p.m. Saturday at Upper Arlington against Gahanna or Hilliard Darby in a district final. Top-seeded Gahanna was 16-0-1 before last Wednesday, and is ranked second in the state. Darby was 6-7-3 overall.

The district champion plays Tuesday at Coffman in a regional semifinal. Potential opponents are Davidson, Thomas, Dublin Scioto or Pickerington North.

In the game against Delaware, New Albany took the lead 20 minutes in on a goal by Derek Moon. Midfielder Jack Buck took the ball deep down the left sideline and looped a cross to Moon, whose diving header found the opening on the right side of the goal.

Ten minutes later, the Eagles scored again on a free kick by Buck. With the ball set just beyond the top left corner of the box, Buck hit a low, hard shot that slipped through a crowd of players and past Delaware goalie Nate Stuntz.

From there, Delaware had several chances to cut into the New Albany lead, but goalie Tyler Washington came up with several key stops. Washington finished with six saves.

Since Schuler took over in 2005, New Albany has reached a district semifinal or beyond every season except one.

"You always want to be a tournament team," Schuler said. "You always want to peak at the right time. "

•After a regular season in which it made an impressive turnaround, the girls team won its opener in the Division I district tournament before losing to ninth-seeded Westerville Central 4-0 on Oct. 22.

New Albany lost to Central 4-3 on Oct. 8, but in the tournament, the Warhawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead by halftime and held off the Eagles in the second half.

The Eagles beat Hartley 1-0 in the first round on Oct. 20. Hartley moved up from Division II this season, but entered the tournament at 10-4-2 overall. New Albany coach Tony Macerollo, whose team also reached the second round last year, said winning a Division I tournament game in central Ohio is always an accomplishment.

"D-I soccer in central Ohio, teams ranked one through 25, and even somewhat beyond that, are always a threat," Macerollo said. "You've got to be ready to play because the competition is really good here in central Ohio."

The Eagles finished the season 9-5-3, which was a significant improvement on last year's 6-11-1 mark. New Albany won its first league championship since moving to the OCC-Capital in 2006 by going 5-0-1 to finish ahead of Olentangy Orange (5-1), Big Walnut (4-2), Hilliard Bradley (3-3), Delaware (1-4-1), Watkins Memorial (1-5) and Mount Vernon (0-4-2). Macerollo was named Coach of the Year in the league.

Perhaps the biggest improvement came on the offensive end, where New Albany scored 2.2 goals per game and was shut out only three times. Last season, the Eagles averaged 2.0 goals per game, but 17 of those 36 goals came in two blowout wins. They also were shut out six times.

The Eagles were solid defensively this year, allowing an average of 1.7 goals per game. The defense, however, will take the biggest hit next season when the Eagles lose senior starters Emily Haupt, Lauren Thomas, Kayleigh Helten, Murphy Ferguson and starting senior goalie Katherine Gaiser.

The Eagles also lose seniors Sam Sikyta (midfield), Brooke Tolnar (midfield) and Erin Hamlin (defense).

New Albany likely will rely on its experienced midfielders and forwards next fall. Juniors Jordyn Albritton and Jordan Mazzi started at forward this season, and juniors Taylor Cameron, Katie Lackey and Sidney Curley and sophomore Morgan Moroi started in the midfield. Mazzi, Cameron and Curley are two-year starters.

Also expected back for the Eagles are juniors Stephanie Lee (midfield), Sarah Litterst (defense) and Katelyn Williams (defense), sophomores Shana Marks (goalie), Jill Singer (midfield) and Delaney Barrett (forward).

"The key to taking the next step, as always, is to look to play quicker," Macerollo said. "And we can't have an off-night. Every match is tough and we need to go in with that expectation that every time we play, it's going to be a challenge. We need to be mentally and physically prepared for that challenge."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the New Albany boys soccer team:

Oct. 20 -- Lost to Olentangy Liberty 4-0

Last Saturday -- Defeated Delaware 2-0 in second round of Division I district tournament.

Last Wednesday -- Played Dublin Coffman in district semifinal. The winner plays at 7 p.m. Saturday at Upper Arlington vs. Hilliard Darby or Gahanna in a district final.

Of note: The Eagles were 5-11-1 overall before last Wednesday.

At a glance

GIRLS

•Record: 9-5-3 overall, 5-0-1 (first) in OCC-Capital

•Seniors lost: Murphy Ferguson, Katherine Gaiser, Erin Hamlin, Emily Haupt, Kayleigh Helten, Sam Sikyta, Lauren Thomas and Brooke Tolnar

•Key returnees: Jordyn Albritton, Taylor Cameron, Sidney Curley, Katie Lackey, Jordan Mazzi and Morgan Moroi