To win three consecutive state titles takes a number of elements to come together at the right time. But to challenge for a fourth consecutive state title takes a special group of players.

To win three consecutive state titles takes a number of elements to come together at the right time. But to challenge for a fourth consecutive state title takes a special group of players.

That's what the New Albany High School girls lacrosse team has with its eight seniors, all of whom have been there since the beginning and have been instrumental in the Eagles' dominance.

Before they were freshmen at New Albany, the girls played together at a camp at Northwestern. The camp was divided according to skill level. And not only were they in the most competitive division, but they were some of the best players there.

"I knew right then that we were going to be pretty good," coach Scott Hamilton said. "I've actually known most of them since they were little girls because my daughter (Molly) is in that group and I always knew they were talented."

That group of eight seniors includes attackers Molly Hamilton and Cara Hernandez, midfielders Andrea Ebeling, Murphy Ferguson, Emily Haupt and Kayleigh Helten, and defenders Christine Irvine and Lauren Thomas.

Considering the success this group has had in the past, one has to wonder where the motivation comes from. How can a team that's already won three state titles have the same burning desire year after year?

"We like to use that as motivation," Ferguson said. "We don't want to get cocky at all, that's the last thing we want. It's so much fun when you're successful."

As well as the Eagles have done, this is one more hurdle they want to clear, and they'll get an opportunity to do it this year. New Albany's three state titles were all in Division II and this season the Eagles are in Division I. Hamilton doesn't think the competition in Division II is of any lesser quality, but nonetheless he said the Eagles are looking forward to continuing their success.

In establishing themselves as a Division I power, one goal the Eagles wanted to accomplish was to beat Cincinnati Sycamore, a team they didn't beat at any point during the last three seasons. New Albany accomplished that goal by defeating the Aviators 11-10 last Saturday. Hernandez led the way with five goals, Hamilton and Ebeling each had two goals and one assist, and goalkeeper Sam Arey made 12 saves.

New Albany plays host to Thomas Worthington today, plays at Cleveland Heights on Saturday and plays host to Westerville Central on Tuesday. The Eagles hope to avoid looking ahead to their match with Upper Arlington on May 6. Last year, the Eagles overcame an eight-goal deficit at halftime to beat Upper Arlington.

Though the win over Syca-more last Saturday kept New Albany undefeated at 8-0, Ferguson said there's still room for improvement.

"I think we could be better with our passing and our fundamentals," Ferguson said. "And like (the Eagles' 10-9 win over Columbus Academy on April 22), we can't be down two girls at the same time. We've got to clean that up."

At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedules for the New Albany boys and girls lacrosse teams:

BOYS

April 14 - Lost to Worthington Kilbourne 15-10

April 21 - Defeated DeSales 11-8

April 23 - Lost to Wellington 14-11

Last Saturday - Lost to Warren (Mich.) De La Salle Collegiate 10-9

*Last Wednesday - Played Hilliard Darby

Friday - At Westerville South

Saturday - Home vs. Dublin Jerome

Wednesday - Home vs. Toledo St. Francis DeSales

Of note: The Eagles were 6-3 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.

GIRLS

April 14 - Def. Westerville South 24-2

April 15 - Def. Worthington Kilbourne 17-6

*April 20 - Def. Olentangy 22-3

Last Friday - Def. Columbus Academy 10-9

Last Saturday - Def. Cincinnati Sycamore 11-10

Last Monday - Game against Westerville North postponed

*Last Tuesday - Played Hilliard Bradley

Today - Home vs. Thomas Worthington

Saturday - At Cleveland Heights

Tuesday - Home vs. Westerville Central

Of note: The Eagles were 8-0 overall and 2-0 in the OCC-Ohio before last Wednesday.

*OCC-Ohio game