New Albany Roundup
Field hockey team is 'excited'
Mariah White of the New Albany field hockey team vies for the ball with Worthington Kilbourne's Valerie Erlenbusch during a game last season. White, a sophomore midfielder, is among the top returnees for the Eagles. Buy This Photo
The field hockey team has come a long way in preparation for this season, its first as a varsity squad.
The Eagles are in their fifth year of existence and spent the past two years as a school club program.
"The girls are very excited," first-year coach Kristen McLean said. "They've wanted for so long to be considered a real varsity sport. They've done nothing but work hard all summer."
The Eagles compete in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League with Bexley, Columbus Academy, Columbus School for Girls, Dublin Coffman, Dublin Jerome, Dublin Scioto, Granville, Hartley, Lancaster, Olentangy, Olentangy Liberty, Orange, Thomas Worthington, Upper Arlington, Watterson and Worthington Kilbourne.
"All the refs, I know," said McLean, who played at Thomas and previously coached at Coffman and with the Hilliard club team. "All the coaches I've either played against or played for and I really respect them all."
She's excited about developing the New Albany program.
"I had a great team (in Hilliard) and leaving one team for another is a tough decision as a coach," McLean said. "The more I thought about it, the more I realized this was an opportunity I couldn't pass up. Not many coaches get to say they were the first."
Defender Betsy Hamilton, midfielder Tina Lorek and defender Britta Thinguldstad are returning seniors.
"They set the tone," McLean said. "They're the ones who have been around the longest. For them to get to experience the first year at varsity is very special to them."
Juniors Caitlin Davis (forward) and Allison Lopez (forward), sophomores Ellie Fireman (forward), Michaela Masters (goalkeeper), Meagan O'Rourke (forward), Jamie Sevenish (midfielder), Mariah White (midfielder) and Abby Wootton (defender) and freshman Hannah Karzmer (midfielder) round out the roster.
"If everyone gives 100 percent of their best ability then we'll have a fantastic season," McLean said. "If you give that much, how could a coach be upset with that?"
Lorek and O'Rourke are the captains.
Junior defender Halle Herman is out with an injury.
"I really see good things in our future," McLean said. "Everyone is really excited for the next couple of years."
The Eagles, who play their home games at Bevelhymer Park, tied Hartley at 0 in their home and season opener Aug. 28.
"It was an emotional game for a lot of the girls, especially the seniors," McLean said. "They gave it their all and left it all on the field."
A final corner play in regulation almost gave the Eagles the win.
"We got a shot, but the goal was called back," McLean said. "The first 15 minutes, we were kind of shaky. The girls were really nervous. They've been waiting for this for a long time."
Girls top Orange to open OCC play
The New Albany High School girls soccer team opened OCC-Capital Division play with a 3-1 home win over Olentangy Orange on Aug. 28.
The game went much better for the Eagles than the last time they played the Pioneers, who ousted New Albany from last year's Division I district tournament with a 1-0 win in a semifinal. The 12th-seeded Pioneers scored on a penalty kick after the 11th-seeded Eagles were called for a foul in the box, and an apparent New Albany goal was disallowed on an offside call.
New Albany coach Chad Schuler didn't blame the calls for the loss, but he was glad the Eagles won the rematch.
"I told (the players) I'm happy for them," he said. "I'm happy for the seniors. It's great our underclassmen got to see this."
Orange took the lead when Taylor Delara scored on a header with 23 minutes to play.
New Albany junior Vanessa Eastwood tied the game at 17:30 after senior Emily Makowski's shot went wide right of Pioneers goalkeeper Mackenzie Brunke, who came out from the goal to defend the play. Eastwood tracked down the ball and scored.
Less than five minutes later, Eastwood scored twice more.
"She came up huge," said Schuler, who thought it was the signature win his team needed.
"They weren't going to get beat," he said. "I think it's going to be a turning point in the season. We're going to continue moving forward."
Through four games, senior goalkeeper Meghan Jayes had 21 saves and had allowed seven goals, including a 5-0 loss to Perrysburg on Aug. 25.
"We love having her back there," senior defender Chrissy Harris said. "Last season, when she was hurt, it was a major upset."
Jayes still is feeling the effects of that shoulder injury and ices down after every game.
"I'm making strides," she said. "Right after I came back I knew I was not in my top shape. The girls have been completely supportive of me. I know my backs will always have my back and I hope they know I'll always have theirs. We have chemistry now we've never had before."
Harris, the leader of New Albany's back line, has played with Jayes since both were 10 years old.
"She's been my goalkeeper for a long time," Harris said. "She's really improved and made some greats saves for us so far this season."
The team is embracing its defense-first approach.
"Perrysburg was a little bit of an experiment," Schuler said. "We tried to play a little more offensive and that's just not us. So we made the adjustments. We're playing more defensive and I think it shows."
"We're getting better," Harris said. "We're progressing each game and we're communicating better. As we do that, the ball gets further down the field."