The New Albany High School boys soccer team took being voted the 21st seed in the Division I district tournament as a sign it was being underestimated.
The Eagles won their last four regular-season games and finished 5-2 in the OCC-Capital Division, but still entered the tournament at 8-8 overall.
"People don't know what they're going to get with New Albany, and that's a good thing," coach Ben Arthurs said last week. "We finished with six wins in our last eight games. All of our losses were close."
New Albany worked overtime -- and into penalty kicks -- to earn a first-round district tournament victory Oct. 17 at Upper Arlington, but the season ended Oct. 20 with a 2-1 loss at Canal Winchester in the second round.
Garrett Greco scored the Eagles' goal against Canal Winchester.
New Albany, which tied Olentangy for second in the OCC-Capital behind champion Olentangy Orange (7-0) and ahead of Big Walnut (3-3-1), Delaware (3-3-1), Watkins Memorial (3-4), Mount Vernon (1-6) and Franklin Heights (0-7), had won five consecutive games before losing to Canal Winchester.
After a scoreless 95 minutes against Upper Arlington, Yuval Greenshtein, Tristan Lyles, Trey Hayes and Loren Albritton scored on penalty kicks and goalkeeper Anthony Flowers stopped three UA shots for a 4-3 edge and the win.
"We got on a roll the last few games. We didn't want to take a bye (in the tournament) then come out maybe not as fresh or energized," said Albritton, a junior midfielder. "We wanted to get a first-round win to keep our momentum going."
The Eagles lose four seniors in Kareem Amr (forward/midfielder), Khalid Gurham (forward), Hayes (defender/midfielder) and Nathan Loos (midfielder). Expected returnees include juniors Albritton, Frankie Boscarillo (defender), Flowers, Greco (midfielder), Greenshtein (midfielder), Zag Kawari (midfielder), Lyles (defender), Jorge Rosas (forward/midfielder), Eric Siegusmund (defender/midfielder), Joey Washington (defender/midfielder) and Alex Zbinovec (forward/midfielder) as well as sophomore Shaan Diwaanji (defender/midfielder).
Zbinovec scored a team-high seven goals. Greco added six.
That Flowers and the crux of the defense should return in 2013 encourages Arthurs.
"Anthony's done a great job as our goalie all year," he said. "I think he's one of the best in the state, but our defense can be impeccable. They know how to get it done."