Bears point toward state accolades
As coach of the Upper Arlington High School girls water polo team, Dan Peterkoski realizes each season brings a new challenge.
However, the goal remains the same for the Golden Bears: win a state championship.
"This is why we coach and why we participate in sports," said Peterkoski, who is in his 10th season leading the program. "It's always exciting to get that going and see what the next group can achieve."
UA began the season by going 4-0 on Aug. 17 and 18 in the Napoleon Invitational.
The Bears, who play host to the Upper Arlington Invitational on Friday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25, captured their second consecutive state championship and 12th overall last season. They defeated Thomas Worthington 15-10 in the state final and finished 27-1, with their lone loss being a 10-9 setback against Thomas in the Upper Arlington Invitational.
UA defeated Napoleon 15-8 in the state final in 2010 after losing to Thomas 12-11 in the state championship game in 2009.
The Bears return 13 players from a year ago in seniors Emily Annen and Sarah Mamo, juniors Julie Dierker, Mara Egeler, Jamie Krupp, Jenny Smith, Shea Stiebler, Betsy Trace, Rachel Webber and Elizabeth Weldon and sophomores Alexandra Hedden, Emma Lammers and Grace Long.
Annen is the team captain. Stiebler is expected to be the starting goalkeeper, having split time in net last season with 2012 graduate Katie Johanni.
"It's pretty much Shea's job, but we'll work other kids in because we have to start developing for the future," Peterkoski said.
Also on the team are junior Meghan Wilson, sophomores Alexandra Hedden and Grace Van Fossen and freshmen Sarah Dilz, Emma Griffith, Chloe Magyari and Erin Sheehan.
"We have a long way to go," Peterkoski said. "We're real young, real inexperienced. But like any year, that can't be an excuse, so they're working hard to try to be ready when it matters the most in October."
Among the players from a year ago who were lost to graduation was Kelly Stiebler, who had 143 goals, 102 steals and 44 assists last season.
Boys team also aiming for state title
The boys team fell short of its ultimate goal last season, losing to eventual state champion St. Charles 14-13 in overtime in a state semifinal.
The Bears, who defeated Milford 12-9 in the consolation game to finish 24-9, are looking to return to state this season. Their last state title came in 2009.
St. Charles defeated Toledo St. Francis 16-6 in the championship game last year for its second consecutive state title.
"It's behind us," eighth-year coach Jim Roberts said of last season. "We ran up against a really good St. Charles team in the state semifinal game and lost in overtime. We're trying to build on it and we're trying to get further this year and try to make it to the top again."
UA, which opens in the Ann Arbor (Mich.) Early Bird tournament Friday, Aug. 24, and Saturday, Aug. 25, is led by senior captains Max Jelen, Joey Long and Nick Sievert, who is in his third season as the starting goalie.
"It's huge to have Nick back," Roberts said. "We're a pretty fast team, and to have somebody who can help us on defense like that and transition to offense is important."
Also on the team are seniors Geoff Dickhaut, Miles Grilliot, John Leanza, Ian Reardon and Danny Sullivan, juniors Ryan Baas, Travis Martin, Zach Newcome and Thomas Trace and sophomores Austin Gorski, Corey Miles and Ian Watson.
Roberts said five freshmen also are vying for playing time.
"We look kind of young," Roberts said. "Even though we have an older team by grades, we have a lot of inexperienced guys."
Among the players from a year ago that UA lost to graduation is Andrew Rabe, who had a team-high 132 goals last season. Other key losses were Marko Colovic, Adam Dodson, Ben Mastruserio and Sean Neri.
"All of those guys contributed a ton," Roberts said. "Andrew and Sean represented about 90 percent of our goals. They're a big loss. We're just trying to get guys to step up and fill the roles. "