According to Upper Arlington High School boys soccer coach Carlos Bonilla, the way in which his team's season ended was a microcosm of its season.
Scoreless after 95 minutes of their Division I district tournament first-round game against visiting New Albany on Oct. 17, the Golden Bears and New Albany both made three of their first four penalty kicks.
In the fifth round, New Albany's Loren Albritton scored, sneaking in a shot to the right of goalkeeper Josh Jackson, before senior midfielder Blake Myers' shot was stopped by New Albany goalie Anthony Flowers, giving the Eagles a 1-0 (4-3 on penalty shots) win and ending the Bears' season.
Senior midfielder Matt Kincaid, junior forward/midfielder Juan Barros and senior forward/midfielder Miki Huber converted UA's first three penalty kicks and senior forward/midfielder Zach Shy missed on the fourth attempt.
As the Eagles mobbed each other at midfield, the Bears sat on their bench, trying to process the defeat. UA finished 5-8-4 overall, with four of its losses being by one goal and two others being by two.
The game also marked the fourth time this season that UA failed to score in regulation and the 10th time that UA was held to fewer than two goals in regulation. The Bears went 1-5-4 in those 10 games.
"They played their hearts out tonight and the whole year," Bonilla said of his players. "They overcame adversity (and) we saw heart."
The Bears went 2-4-1 in the OCC-Central Division to finish fifth behind Olentangy Liberty (6-1), Dublin Coffman (5-2), Thomas Worthington (4-1-2), Hilliard Davidson (3-2-2) and Marysville (3-2-2) and ahead of Westland (1-5-1) and Central Crossing (0-7).
Among the season highlights were a three-game winning streak, in which UA defeated Dublin Jerome (1-0 on Sept. 6), Central Crossing (3-1 on Sept. 11) and Perrysburg (2-0 on Sept. 15), and a 2-1 win over 2011 Division III state champion Worthington Christian on Oct. 11.
The Bears' other win came against Westland, 5-2 on Oct. 2.
UA loses 11 seniors in Huber, Jackson, Kincaid, Myers, Shy, Drew Bessignano (defender), Luke Boyer (defender), Wyatt Royse (midfielder), Matt Stephen (forward/midfielder), Eli Weldon (midfielder) and Spencer Witt (defender/midfielder).
Expected to return are Barros, juniors Max Beck (forward/midfielder), Sean Garrett (goalie), Joey Jentgen (forward/midfielder), Michael Merullo (defender), Seamus Moore (midfielder) and Griffin Turnbull (defender/midfielder) and sophomores Doug Bannon (defender) and Will Myers (defender). Freshman forward Jack Minnery also saw some varsity time, scoring two goals against Marysville in a 7-2 loss on Sept. 25.
Shy had a team-high five goals. Weldon had four goals and Jentgen scored three.
"The future is bright," Bonilla said. "We have a great feeder system. Our (junior varsity) won 11 games and played beautiful soccer. This group stayed together through thick and thin. I wish I could have them a while longer."
Girls team falls in tourney opener
Falling 1-0 to Westerville North in the first round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 16 made the end of the season that much tougher for the girls team.
"We thought it would be about a 50-50 game and it'd come down to whoever could score first," coach Mark Wise said.
"We didn't expect it to be decided on a penalty kick (by North's Missy Ward 30 minutes into the game). That was just unfortunate. Early exits are never easy."
The Bears finished 5-8-4 overall and went 2-4-1 in the OCC-Central to place sixth, behind Coffman (6-0-1), Davidson (6-1), Liberty (5-2), Thomas (3-3-1) and Marysville (2-2-3) and ahead of Central Crossing (0-6-1) and Westland (0-6-1).
UA loses four seniors in Gabby Bongiorno (midfielder), Katie Kapusta (goalie), Maddie Stone (defender) and Annabella Williams (forward).
Expected returnees are juniors Anna Eversole (defender), Rachel Eastwood (midfielder), Kerry Fry (forward), Gigi Furlong (forward), Gabi MacNaughton (defender), Megan Williams (defender) and Callie Zimmerman (defender) and sophomores Alex Beery (defender), Jessie Greve (midfielder), Julia Klebe (midfielder), Madeline Miller (midfielder), Hannah Peale (defender) and Rachel Piscopo (defender).
Miller scored a team-high four goals and Beery, Furlong, Greve and Zimmerman each scored three.