The Pickerington high school Central and North boys lacrosse teams both accomplished at least most of the goals they had set for their inaugural seasons following the split into separate programs.

The Pickerington high school Central and North boys lacrosse teams both accomplished at least most of the goals they had set for their inaugural seasons following the split into separate programs.

The Panthers met a big one when they beat the Tigers 16-6 on May 15 in the first regular-season meeting between the programs, and North also was competitive against the three Westerville schools it faced in OCC-Central Division play.

The biggest positive for Central - and the No. 1 thing the teams had in common - was its coach saw such a vast amount of improvement that it's difficult to pinpoint individuals who might elevate their game significantly next spring.

"It's a very, very long list of guys," Tigers coach Ryan Cook said. "At practice, you can watch the kids start to get it. Everybody just got a bunch better throughout the season, which is big especially when you're this young and this inexperienced. Right now, we're a lacrosse team, but we're just not a very good one. One reason there's been a significant buy into the offseason program is because they want to be good. They're doing all of the stuff they can to get good."

As a club program last season, Pickerington won eight games. As separate teams this year, North and Central combined to win 10.

The Panthers beat Westerville Central 14-13 on March 24, lost to Westerville North 12-10 on April 21 and fell to Westerville South 10-7 on May 20 in the first round of the Division I Central region tournament. The game against South also counted as an OCC-Central game.

Combined with their win over the Tigers, North went 2-2 in the league.

Westerville North went 4-0 in the OCC-Central, South was 3-1, Westerville Central was 1-3 and Pickerington Central went 0-4. Big Walnut and Delaware also were considered members of the OCC-Central but didn't play all of the teams in the league and were not included in the final standings.

Pickerington North was beating South 5-4 at halftime in its tournament opener before the Wildcats gained control.

"We were winning the game and then they just started to play harder, beating us on ground balls," coach Garrick McDonald said. "In the second half, we didn't seem to know how to get a ground ball off the ground, and that's where games are won or lost."

The Panthers lose five seniors, including Peter Bush and Kyle Mick.

Sophomore Jay Huffman and freshman Travis Huffman became two of the team's top offensive threats, and junior Brice Bauman, sophomore Adam Hunt and freshman Seth Caudill should be back to lead the defense. Juniors Garret Allen and Jessey Alley and freshman Austin Brady were among the bright spots in the midfield.

"For us to get to the second round of the playoffs with this young of a team would have been pretty crazy," McDonald said. "There's so much upswing with this team that it's not even funny. We've got a lot of work to do in the offseason, and it comes down to the guys wanting to be better."

The Tigers earned their first win when they defeated Delaware 13-9 on April 28 and beat Wheeling (W.Va.) Linsly 23-8 on May 1, Wheeling (W.Va.) Park 17-4 on May 1 and Marysville 15-1 on May 17. They lost to Olentangy Liberty 22-7 in the first round of the Division I Central region tournament May 20.

Central loses four seniors, including Ryan Klipa and Drew Watson, who were its only players with significant experience entering this season. Both players will compete for Otterbein College next year.

The Tigers have seven juniors eligible to return, including Elijah Wright at attacker. Also among those expected to return are sophomore Garyck Todd on defense, sophomores Brad Bowers and Jake Raymond and freshmen Devon Maki in the midfield and sophomore Nate Billups at attack.

•The girls club team won four games under first-year coach Megan Levins after finishing just 1-13 last year.

Pickerington finished 4-11 overall and loses only one senior in midfielder Kaitlin Hojna. It lost to Cincinnati McAuley 18-13 in a play-in game of the Division I South-Central regional tournament May 17.

Pickerington trailed 11-9 at halftime before the Mohawks pulled away.

"I don't think the car ride there helped, and we really didn't play the way we're capable of playing," Levins said. "It was a good learning experience to go there. It just stinks to travel that distance and walk away empty-handed."

Freshman Abbey Paulus had six goals in the tournament loss and should be back to lead the offense. Juniors Cail Stemm and Hannah Walters were also key players on offense.

Others who are expected to return are junior Rachel Leist and Amruta Patel, sophomores Adrienne Hennerfeind, Casey Hess, Katelyn Mickelson, Laura Sullivan and Jackie Zustra and freshmen Kaitlin Beemiller, Laura Hammerstein and Katie Hunt.

"They're all young, and we'll have this opportunity again next year," Levins said. "It was a very enjoyable experience. They're a wonderful group of girls."

At a glance


Record: 4-11 overall, 0-4 (fifth) in OCC-Central Seniors lost: Shayne Denihan, Dante Hernandez, Ryan Klipa and Drew Watson Key returnees: Brad Bowers, Devon Maki, Jake Raymond, Garyck Todd, Brent Walton and Elijah Wright


Record: 6-7 overall, 2-2 (third) in OCC-Central Seniors lost: Peter Bush, Ryan Fasold, Eric Frost, Kyle Mick and Cody Wright Key returnees: Garret Allen, Brice Bauman, Jay Huffman, Travis Huffman and Sam Mattei


Record: 4-11 Seniors lost: Kaitlin Hojna Key returnees: Adrienne Hennerfeind, Abbey Paulus, Cail Stemm, Laura Sullivan and Hannah Walters