The New Albany High School boys soccer team entered the week on the cusp of the OCC-Capital Division championship.
But according to coach Ben Arthurs, if the Eagles are to have their best postseason in more than a decade, they have to be more effective finishing games.
"We are happy with where we are. We are content, but we're definitely not satisfied," said Arthurs, whose team was 10-1-3 overall and 5-0-1 in the OCC-Capital before visiting Mount Vernon on Oct. 8. "We're not satisfied with our finishes in more than just (the) three (ties). It's probably closer to five or six (games). Sometimes we get lackadaisical and don't follow the system, and going toward the tournament we absolutely have to finish better."
The Eagles' third scoreless tie of the season, against league-foe Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 1, at least temporarily delayed New Albany's chance to celebrate its first league title since joining the OCC in 2006. New Albany entered its game at Mount Vernon tied with the Wolves and just ahead of third-place Olentangy Orange (5-1), and Orange visited Kilbourne on Oct. 8.
New Albany's other ties came against Bexley on Sept. 21 and Westerville Central on Sept. 28, the latter of which was played at Crew Stadium.
The Eagles, who earned the fifth seed in the Division I district tournament, finish their regular season at home Thursday, Oct. 10, against Columbus Academy. New Albany's first postseason game is Oct. 19 against visiting Licking Heights in the second round.
Senior midfielder Yuval Greenshtein and senior forward Alex Zbinovec led the Eagles with seven goals through 14 games. That matches Zbino-vec's team-leading total from last year.
"Alex runs so hard and so long that we sometimes use him as an attacking midfielder to distribute the ball. He's been utilitarian for us," Arthurs said. "Yuval's having a great season. He's almost too hungry at times. Sometimes I want his 99 percent (effort) instead of 100. He's tough on the ball. He just has to be more patient. His enthusiasm generates the drive of our team."
New Albany is seeking its best postseason performance since 2001, when it advanced to a Division III state semifinal. In recent years, the Eagles advanced to a Division II district final in 2008 under now-girls coach Chad Schuler and lost to Big Walnut 1-0 in a shootout.
"We have to finish against teams that are equal to or better than we are," Arthurs said. "What can we do to create better chances offensively?"
Girls tennis players heading to district
The girls tennis team qualified two singles players and both doubles teams to the Division I district tournament Friday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 12, at Hilliard Davidson.
In a Division I sectional at Reynoldsburg, freshman Taylor Selby and senior Carol Vitellas qualified in singles, as did the doubles teams of freshman Alex Cash and junior Jane Haffer and senior Alyssa Seneviratne and junior Sydney Setnar. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced.
Cash and Haffer had secured a spot in the final before rain halted play Oct. 5. Several matches were postponed to Oct. 7, including the other doubles semifinal pitting Seneviratne and Setnar against Olentangy's Sonia Chhabria and Lizzie Radkiewicz.
Selby and Carol Vitellas faced off in the third-place match Oct. 7.
Freshman Christina Vitellas was 1-1 in singles.
From district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament Oct. 18 and 19. The first day will take place at Ohio State, with the second day at Davidson.
Volleyball team needs help to win league
Despite two OCC-Capital losses last week, the girls volleyball team entered the week with a chance to share the program's first league championship since 2004.
The Eagles, who were 15-5 overall and 9-3 in the league before visiting Kilbourne on Oct. 8, lost to first-place Olentangy 17-25, 25-16, 25-22, 25-22 on Oct. 1 before being edged by Big Walnut 26-24, 25-21, 27-25 on Oct. 3. That left New Albany in third place, but the Eagles remained a game back because Kilbourne upset Olentangy 25-11, 25-20, 19-25, 23-25, 15-13 on Oct. 3 to pull into a first-place tie with two matches to play. Both teams were 10-2 in the league before Oct. 8, ahead of New Albany and Big Walnut (8-4).
New Albany finishes league play at home Thursday, Oct. 10, against Mount Vernon.
"It's been too long (since a championship)," coach Karen Morlan said. "These seniors are eager to leave their mark in school history. It's a long list of championships in sports at New Albany, and our girls want to be included."
New Albany earned the 10th seed for the Division I district tournament and could play its first- and second-round matches at home. The Eagles will play host to Westerville South on Monday, Oct. 14, and with a win would play host to 13th-seeded Big Walnut on Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The second-round winner will play fourth-seeded Grove City, Upper Arlington or Westland in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at Bloom-Carroll.
Of those teams, New Albany split two regular-season meetings with Big Walnut.
Girls golf season ends at sectional
Junior Megan Dressel shot a 93 and senior Madison Fixari shot a 94, but the girls golf team's season came to an end with a sixth-place finish (398) in a 10-team Division I sectional Oct. 1 at Oakhaven.
Junior Ellie Billisits shot a 99 for the Eagles, followed by sophomores Maggie Records (112) and Maggie Archer (118). Archer replaced senior Amanda Giroux, who was battling an ankle injury.
Dublin Jerome (299), Kilbourne (347) and Thomas Worthington (361) moved on to district, along with individual-qualifiers Felicia Davenport (73) of Westerville South and Olentangy's Taylor Dencer (86) and Kara Raines (87).
"The course was longer than usual for the sectional, but it impacted everyone. It was somewhat windy, too, and it went against the golfers quite a bit," coach Darryl Sycher said. "Realistically, there had to be a (round of) 80 to around 87 or 88 in there for us to get out."
New Albany finished 41-43 overall and 8-16 in the OCC-Cardinal, fifth behind Jerome (24-0), Olentangy Liberty (20-4), Dublin Scioto (14-10) and Olentangy (14-10) and ahead of Pickerington Central (4-20) and Orange (0-24).
The Eagles' best 18-hole round of the year was a 363 on Aug. 8 in the Worthington Kilbourne Invitational at Glenross.
"Overall, we were 15 or 20 strokes better per 18 holes (than 2012)," Sycher said. "The wins we had this year were against some good, solid competition. We definitely saw some improvement from last year. We've played better than we did at the sectional. We have plenty to build on for next year."