The Olentangy High School girls lacrosse team was outscored 6-1 in the second half and lost to Cincinnati Sycamore 14-8 in a Division I state semifinal May 30 at Thomas Worthington.
Katie Stegmann had three goals and Rachel Dietz had two. Making their first state tournament appearance since 2005, when they won the Division II title, the Braves finished 18-2 overall.
"I think the heat definitely got to us," Dietz said. "In the first half we ran with them and were more confident. They got a few early goals (in the second half) and it just wore us down. We weren't hydrated enough and I think we definitely needed to train a little more for this (heat)."
Olentangy's second-half goal came with 29 seconds remaining.
"We had a wonderful year and pretty much dominated everyone to this point," coach Allison Neff said. "We all got along and the girls worked hard, and we really showed a lot of progression and development."
The Braves had a first-round bye in the North/Central Region tournament then defeated Cleveland Heights 19-7 on May 14, Hudson 18-10 on May 19 and Massillon Jackson 9-8 on May 22 on Stevie Jefferis' late goal to advance to state.
Olentangy won the OCC-Capital Division at 4-0, ahead of New Albany (3-1), Orange (2-2), Delaware (1-3) and Big Walnut (0-4).
Olentangy loses five seniors, including starters Chelsea Cousins, Dietz and Emily Petrole, as well as Kasia Placek and Jessyca Toland.
Dietz (72 goals, 26 assists) was second-team all-state. Petrole made 73 saves on 157 shots.
"We will miss Dietz, Cousins was our leader on defense and Petrole was strong in goal," Neff said. "While it will be difficult to replace all of those seniors, we have a full squad of juniors and three-fourths of our starters returning. There is lots of promise here."
Stegmann (74 goals, 19 assists) was first-team all-state and led the Braves in draw controls (118), turnovers caused (29) and groundballs (27).
"We used two goalkeepers all season and Madison Barnes will be back next year," Neff said. "We also have a number of girls who can help us make up for the loss of Dietz's scoring. The McCullough twins (Morgan and Haley) are threats and Jefferis and (Mary) Tarantine are, too. They should step up collectively next year."
Morgan McCullough had 37 goals and 16 assists, and Haley McCullough scored 25 goals. Sophomore Taylor Ries had 19 goals, Jefferis had 18 and Tarantine had 16 goals and 13 assists. Barnes made 101 saves against 191 shots.
Barnes, Alexa Heller, Jefferis, Alexa McCafferty, Haley McCullough, Morgan McCullough, Stegmann and Tarantine are expected key returnees as juniors.
Patriots plan for bigger things in 2015
Liberty finished 7-8 overall after losing to Dublin Coffman 13-9 in a Division I North/Central regional semifinal May 19.
The Patriots had a first-round bye and defeated Dublin Jerome 21-9 in the second round May 14.
Liberty loses four seniors, all starters, in Erin Hedrick (midfielder), Gaby Perez (defender), Ellie Schramm (defender) and Mackenzie Wright (defender).
"Our senior class made a big contribution to our team's unity," coach Brynna Flynn said. "We have said this season that it is more important not to make your presence known but for your absence to be felt when you are missing, and I am positive their absence will be felt when they are missing from our field next season.
"We are taking a big hit to our defense by losing three of four starters. Luckily, we have a solid group of defenders that are just chomping at the bit for starting roles. I think our talent is there, but our biggest concern now is communication. We need to improve not only how much we are talking, but in the ways we are talking."
Freshman Claire Buckey was the other starter on defense in front of goalie Elise Miller.
The Braves, who finished fourth (1-3) in the OCC-Central behind Upper Arlington (4-0), Coffman (3-1) and Thomas Worthington (2-2) and ahead of Hilliard Davidson (0-4), should have plenty of returnees elsewhere on the field.
Expected back at attacker are juniors Kelley Fitzgerald, Katie Gallagher, Megan Maitino and Katie Wetterauer-Jackson. Midfielders expected back are juniors Dani Bursinger, Lexa Nutter and Mallory Wiles, sophomore Micayla Gammon and freshman Hannah Buckey.
Bursinger was first-team all-region. Fitzgerald was second-team all-region and Miller was honorable mention.
"Our record doesn't begin to show our talents on the field," Flynn said. "We had a rocky start with me being a first-year coach, but we adjusted to one another and were able to climb out of the slump. I am very pleased with the final outcome.
"We have a very positive outlook for next season. We have a strong core of girls coming back next year that are real leaders and can contribute vastly on the field."
Miller steps down as Orange coach
Orange finished 5-10 overall after losing to Jerome 13-12 in the first round of the Division I North/Central Region tournament May 12.
The Pioneers lose five seniors in Taylor Collett (attacker), Alyssa Combs (midfielder), Becca Keane (midfielder), Jenn Peddicord (defender) and Starr Perlman (defender), as well as coach Jaime Miller, who stepped down after six seasons.
"I have two children under the age of 3 and I've been working full time and coaching and it's a commitment that I can no longer fulfill," said Miller, who teaches family and consumer sciences at Orange. "I'm the type of person that can't do something halfway."
Expected to return are juniors Maria Flores (goalie), Taylor Holland (defender), Olivia Kamer (defender), Lauren Nobile (attacker), Katie Sarson (midfielder) and Jenny Spragg (attacker) and sophomores Lindsay Hopeck (defender) and Sarah Ramsey (attacker).
Earning all-league honors were Keane (first team), Spragg (second team) and Combs (honorable mention).
"We were young this year after losing 12 players (to graduation in 2013)," Miller said. "So there's a lot of talent coming back and they've got that year of experience now against a very challenging schedule. ... It's a good opportunity for someone to step in and have success right away."