Upper Arlington High School field hockey coach McKenzie Hufford likes what she has seen from her young and inexperienced team this season even though victories have been difficult to come by.

Upper Arlington High School field hockey coach McKenzie Hufford likes what she has seen from her young and inexperienced team this season even though victories have been difficult to come by.

The Golden Bears, who lost eight starters from a year ago to graduation, won only four of their first 10 games, but five of their losses were by one goal, including three against some of the top programs in the state.

UA lost to defending state champion Watterson 3-2 on Sept. 15, fell 1-0 to 2008 state champion Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown on Sept. 11 and lost 2-1 in overtime to 2007 state champion Thomas Worthington on Sept. 23.

"Our record doesn't really show the type of talent that we have on the team," Hufford said. "The games have been really close and I've definitely seen improvement from my girls from game to game, and that's all that matters. I'm hoping that we peak at the right time and come together and maybe that will be to our advantage, because maybe people will look at our record and kind of take us for granted."

"We feel like, even though we are a young team, we've got a lot of talent and a lot of potential," senior goalkeeper Sydney Stype said. "Our goal is to just keep improving each game."

UA, which hasn't had a losing season since finishing 6-7-2 in 2000, took a 1-0 lead against Thomas on a goal by forward Emily Fitz with 4 minutes, 47 seconds left in the first half. The Cardinals tied the game with 13:18 left in regulation and then won it just 18 seconds into overtime on a goal by Kristi Gegas.

"We were kind of on our heels and they came out with more fire (in overtime) and (the goal) happened," Hufford said. "Hopefully it's a learning experience. I think we were still excited just to be going into overtime against a really good team."

The primary reason UA had an opportunity to beat Thomas was Stype, who had 28 saves. A four-year starter nicknamed "Cinderblock" by her teammates, Stype had 18 saves in a 2-1 loss to Olentangy Liberty on Sept. 2.

"Sydney is amazing. She's like a brick wall," Fitz said. "She saves us in so many games. She's always there for us and always super intense. Without Sydney, we'd still be good, but she has saved us in a lot of games and keeps a lot of goals out. The scores would be a lot higher without her."

"She's an excellent goalie," Hufford said. "She's really stepped up this year and she's being recruited by college coaches and she really has taken that leadership role. ... I think the closest part of our team right now is our defensive unit, and Sydney is a huge part of that. Being a senior and having that experience has really helped her this year."

According to Hufford, leading the defense are junior Gabby Ramsey and sophomore Nicole Carothers, each of whom is a first-year varsity player.

"Nicole Carothers has really stepped up this season," Hufford said.

"I've really been happy with her. She's very consistent and she actually had a defensive save (against Thomas). I also think Gabby Ramsey is playing well. She's kind of like a silent warrior in the backfield. She reads the play and steps up and knows what to do with the ball when she gets it. Those two have really been standing out."

Offense continues to be a work in progress. Although UA had 32 goals through 10 games, 23 were scored in a 12-0 win over Lancaster on Aug. 31 and an 11-0 win over Olentangy Orange on Sept. 7.

Through 10 games, midfielder Maggie Igel was leading the team with six goals, and Fitz had five. Forward/midfielder Kate Eastwood, forward Emily Messick and forward Caroline Stechison each had four.

"We're having a hard time working together and keeping possession of the ball," Hufford said. "My forwards need to come back (to the midfielders) more and my (midfielders) need to come up more in support. We need more numbers on offense. Right now, we're not coming together and completing that passing game like we want to."


At a glance

Below are the recent results and coming schedule for the Upper Arlington field hockey team:

*Aug. 31 - Defeated Lancaster 12-0

*Sept. 2 - Lost to Olentangy Liberty 2-1

*Sept. 7 - Def. Olentangy Orange 11-0

Sept. 11 - Lost to Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown 1-0

*Sept. 15 - Lost to Watterson 3-2

*Sept. 20 - Lost to Bexley 3-0

*Sept. 23 - Lost to Thomas Worthington 2-1 (OT)

Last Saturday - Lost to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy 2-1; def. Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy 2-1

*Last Monday - Def. Dublin Jerome 2-1

*Last Wednesday - Played Columbus Academy

*Wednesday - Home vs. CSG

Oct. 9 - Home vs. Toledo Ottawa Hills

*Oct. 11 - At Worthington Kilbourne

*Oct. 13 - At Dublin Scioto

Of note: The Bears were 4-6 overall and 3-3 in Central Ohio Field Hockey League before last Wednesday.

*COFHL game