Upper Arlington focused on end result
A streak of 11 consecutive winning seasons is well and good for the Upper Arlington High School field hockey team, but second-year coach Derek Aspinall is far more concerned with his team's progress than its record.
Having lost 11 players from a year ago to graduation, the Golden Bears were 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League before playing Columbus Academy on Sept. 10.
In those five losses, however, the Bears were outscored only 7-1.
"Often people think based on your record, something isn't working (so you have to) change it," Aspinall said. "You have to keep the end result in mind. It is working, but it's working a little slower than we'd like. But it's still progressing. That's important to me and it's important to the girls."
The season began Aug. 25 with a 1-0 loss in four overtimes to host Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame. The Bears lost to Thomas Worthington 2-1 in their COFHL opener Aug. 29 and then went 1-2 in the Golden Bear Classic on Sept. 1, defeating Lancaster 4-0 and losing 1-0 to both Mount Notre Dame and Gates Mills Hawken.
Watterson beat the Bears 2-0 on Sept. 5. UA lost to Columbus Academy 3-0 on Sept. 10.
"We go straight into (the season) playing some of those teams, but we know that was intentional to try to get us to put our best feet forward," said senior forward Sarah Both, a co-captain with senior defender Nicole Carothers and sophomore defender Audrey Pottschmidt.
"We have some work to do offensively," Pottschmidt said. "We get up into the circle and it's hard for us to get the ball in the goal. But defensively, we're really strong.
"Since we're young, it's a struggle. Not everyone has played together all that much yet."
Last season, UA finished 10-8 overall and 7-4 in the COFHL, tying Bexley, Dublin Jerome and Granville for third behind co-champions Academy (10-0-1) and Thomas (10-0-1).
Rounding out the standings were Watterson (6-4-1), Olentangy (6-5), Olentangy Liberty (6-5), Dublin Coffman (5-6), Columbus School for Girls (4-6-1), Worthington Kilbourne (3-8), Olentangy Orange (2-9), Dublin Scioto (1-10) and Lancaster (0-11).
The Bears defeated Dublin Scioto 3-0 in their district tournament opener last year before losing to Thomas 4-1 in a district semifinal.
Among the players UA lost to graduation were forwards Kate Eastwood and Venessa Menerey, the team's top two scorers a year ago. Menerey had a team-high eight goals and three assists last season and Eastwood had six goals and six assists.
Both had four goals and two assists last year.
Other returnees are senior forwards Lauren Deverse and Alli Nini, senior defender Amy Henry, junior midfielders Margaret Callahan, Kasey Keegan and Kara Sturtz, junior goalkeeper Alex Keller, junior forward Sarah Mikac, sophomore goalie Alee Caldwell, sophomore midfielders Caroline Fulmer and Clara Rhodehamel, sophomore forwards Monnett Hamilton and Tanner Miley, sophomore defenders Kate Hennessey and Heddie Samuelson and sophomore Sara Shroyer, a versatile all-around player.
The sophomores were introduced to Aspinall's system as freshmen, which he hopes can ease their transition to varsity.
"We're not re-inventing the wheel," Aspinall said.
"The basics we installed last year are still there. The skill level we have this year, we've seen an increase."