The New Albany High School boys soccer team's goal is to be stronger defensively after intermission.

The New Albany High School boys soccer team's goal is to be stronger defensively after intermission.

The Eagles have played better of late and are striking first often, but their opponents continue to score goals in the second half. That cost the team at least two victories in recent games.

"We got up on Upper Arlington 2-0 before they came back on us (to forge a 2-all tie on Sept. 18)," coach Ben Arthurs said. "It was the same thing with (Olentangy) Liberty (during a 2-all tie on Sept. 23). We led 2-1 late in the game before they got another one with about 14 minutes left.

"We're getting closer to where we want to be and we're seeing some good things. Unfortunately, we're just not finishing the way we'd like."

The Eagles were 2-5-2 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Capital Division before last Tuesday's game against Big Walnut.

"It goes back to Thomas Worthington, really," said Arthurs, whose team lost to the Cardinals 6-2 in the opener Aug. 24. "It was 4-2 and we were doing a good job staying with a top-five team in the state. Then, boom, they put up two more on us and the score's uglier than it should have been.

"We're still learning new formations. We play a flat-back defense, but we're going man-to-man to mark, and those two defenses don't work well together.

"We're training now for the postseason, anyway. But this team, we're definitely better than our record indicates."

•The goal for the girls team in the second half of the regular season is to finish strong and bring home a second consecutive OCC-Capital championship.

The Eagles were 9-0 overall and 4-0 in the league entering last Tuesday's game against Big Walnut. They hadn't lost to an OCC-Capital opponent in 12 games and more than two calendar years after winning last season's title with a 5-0-1 record. Big Walnut was the last league foe to hang a loss on New Albany (3-1 on Sept. 23, 2008). The Eagles responded by winning their final two OCC-Capital games that year.

"The girls are pretty focused," coach Chad Schuler said. "The OCC is a very big deal to them."

Two OCC-Capital games remain, including Tuesday against visiting Delaware. The finale is Oct. 12 at Mount Vernon. Delaware also was 4-0 in league play entering its game last Tuesday against Hilliard Bradley.

Last season, New Albany beat the Pacers 6-0 as Jordyn Albritton, who was this year's leading scorer with 11 goals entering last Tuesday, found the net three times.

"They're obviously having a much better season," Schuler said. "We got some of our tougher opponents out of the way early, but the girls will be taking Delaware very seriously."

Unlike the boys, the girls team is making a habit of snatching victory from what could have been multiple ties or worse. Taylor Cameron's second-half goal was decisive in a 1-0 win over Bradley on Aug. 31, and New Albany survived Olentangy Orange 5-2 on Sept. 14 even though that game was tied 1-all at intermission.

The Eagles also broke open scoreless non-league games with second-half goals to defeat Olentangy 2-0 on Sept. 16 and Pickerington Central 2-0 on Sept. 23.

"What this team does so well is make adjustments when needed," Schuler said. "The girls have really stepped up at crunch time."


At a glance

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

BOYS

*Sept. 21 - Defeated Franklin Heights 9-1

Sept. 23 - Tied Olentangy Liberty at 2. Trent Guy and Ryan Little scored for the Eagles.

*Last Tuesday - Played Big Walnut

Today - Home vs. Grove City

*Tuesday - At Delaware. The Eagles lost 1-0 last year.

Of note: The Eagles were 2-5-2 overall and 1-3 in the OCC-Capital before last Tuesday.

GIRLS

*Sept. 21 - Def. Franklin Heights 11-0

Sept. 23 - Def. Pickerington Central 2-0. Vanessa Eastwood and Jordyn Albritton scored. Meghan Jayes was in goal for the Eagles' seventh shutout.

*Last Tuesday - Played Big Walnut

Today - At Grove City

*Tuesday - Home vs. Delaware. The Eagles won 6-0 last year.

Of note: The Eagles were 8-0 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital before last Tuesday.

*OCC-Capital game