A youth program has paid off for the Olentangy High School boys and girls lacrosse teams this season, as both teams captured OCC-Ohio Division titles.
"It's definitely a growing sport in our area and we're blessed to have a very big youth program and (the Olentangy Youth Athletic Association)," said boys coach Zach Peterson, whose team won its second league championship in three seasons. "The OYAA is the biggest youth league in the Midwest, (based on) helmet orders. A lot of these kids have been playing together since they were in the third grade. That makes a big difference.
"I graduated from (Worthington) Kilbourne in 2004 and my class didn't start (playing the sport) until the seventh grade. We played together for six years and now the kids are playing 10 years together and that makes for better teams."
The boys team went 6-0 in the OCC-Ohio to finish ahead of Liberty (5-1), Orange (4-2), New Albany (3-3), Hilliard Bradley (1-5), Hilliard Darby (1-5) and Gahanna (1-5). The girls team also went 6-0, finishing ahead of Bradley (5-1), Liberty (4-2), Orange (3-3), Dublin Scioto (2-4), Hilliard Davidson (1-5) and Dublin Jerome (0-6).
"We had high expectations this season and we're playing our best lacrosse right now," said girls coach Chelsea Huguenard, whose team was seeded third in the Division II North/Central Region tournament behind Chagrin Falls and Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown. "(The boys and girls teams winning league titles) really says a lot about the quality lacrosse that we have at the school."
The girls team was 14-4 overall before playing Chagrin Falls Kenston in a regional semifinal May 21. The winner plays at Hathaway Brown or Gates Mills Hawken in a regional final Thursday, May 23.
Olentangy has not played Hathaway Brown or Hawken this season.
The regional champion ad-vances to a state semifinal May 31 at Thomas Worthington.
The Braves had a first-round bye in the regional tournament and defeated Richfield Revere 14-4 in the second round May 16, behind four goals by senior attacker Mallory Quiggle, three goals by junior attacker Racheal Dietz and two goals by sophomore midfielder Katie Stegmann.
Sophomore goalkeeper Madison Barnes had five saves against Revere and junior goalie Erin Petrole had four.
The boys team completed the regular season with a 15-5 win over Centerville on May 17 and a 12-8 win over Cincinnati Summit Country Day on May 19 to improve to 16-1.
Olentangy defeated Pickerington North 9-6 on May 14 as senior attacker Mitchell Newell and sophomore attacker Cliff Kigar both scored two goals and junior goalie Cole Palmby had 12 saves.
The Braves are seeded second in the Division I Northwest Region tournament behind Jerome and will play host to seventh-seeded Medina or eighth-seeded Strongsville in their postseason opener Saturday, May 25.
Olentangy has not played Medina or Strongsville this season.
The winner advances to a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 29, at home against third-seeded Liberty, fifth-seeded Orange or 11th-seeded Brunswick.
The Braves have not played Brunswick this season, but defeated Liberty 5-4 on April 26 and Orange 15-6 on April 17 in OCC-Ohio contests.
Liberty girls advance in tournament
The Liberty girls team was 11-5 overall after defeating Mentor 10-8 in a Division I North/Central Region semifinal May 20.
The Patriots play at top-seeded Medina in a regional final Thursday, May 23.
The Patriots did not played Medina during the regular season.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal May 31 at New Albany.
Liberty had a first-round bye before defeating Toledo Notre Dame 14-10 in the second round May 17.
Sophomore attacker Kelley Fitzgerald had four goals and senior attackers Eileen Barrett and Rachel Henderson and sophomore attacker Dani Bursinger each scoring three. Sophomore goalie Elise Miller had nine saves.
Liberty boys seeded third in tourney
The Liberty boys team is seeded third in the Division I Northwest Region tournament and will play host to fifth-seeded Orange or 11th-seeded Brunswick in the first round Saturday, May 25.
The Patriots have not played Brunswick this season but defeated Orange 11-9 on May 8 in an OCC-Ohio game.
The first-round winner advances to play at Olentangy, Medina or Strongsville in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 29.
Liberty closed the regular season with a 15-6 win over Westerville Central on May 17 to improve to 12-6 overall.
Junior attackers Brendan Ryan and Mitchell Hughes had four and three goals, respectively, and sophomore goalie Sean Murphy had 10 saves.
Orange boys get fifth seed in tourney
The Orange boys team is seeded fifth in the Division I Northwest Region tournament and will play host to 11th-seeded Brunswick in a play-in game Thursday, May 23.
The winner will play at Liberty in the first round Saturday, May 25, with the first-round winner advancing to play at Olentangy, Medina or Strongsville in a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 29.
Orange has not played Brunswick or Medina this season but defeated Strongsville 10-4 on April 20 and lost to Olentangy 15-6 on April 17 in an OCC-Ohio contest.
The Pioneers finished the regular season with a 13-6 loss to Kilbourne on May 17 to fall to 9-7 overall. Junior attacker Eddy Arnold scored two goals and junior goalie Robert McHale had 10 saves.
Orange girls fall in second round
The Orange girls team lost to host Rocky River Magnificat 17-6 in the second round of the Division I North/Central Region tournament May 15 to finish 10-8 overall.
Senior midfielder Brittany Barber and senior attacker Grace Smith each scored two goals and senior goalie Bailey Castillo had 10 saves.
The Pioneers had opened the tournament with a 19-10 win over Brecksville-Broadview Heights on May 13 at home.