Upper Arlington High School girls lacrosse coach Wendy Pinta thinks her team is off to a faster start than a year ago, when it went 17-4 and finished as Division I state runner-up for the fourth consecutive year.
"The learning curve is a lot smaller now and we can get after things more easily in practice," said Pinta, who returned to UA last year after coaching the Golden Bears from 1992-2007. "The girls were eager to start. We had four scrimmages, but those aren't like actual games. We were all ready to test ourselves."
UA went 2-1 in the Dogwood Girls Lacrosse Classic held April 5 and 6 at Westminster High School in Atlanta. The Bears defeated College Park (Ga.) Woodward 18-5 in their first game April 5. The next day, they lost to Marietta (Ga.) Walton 17-13 before rebounding to beat Kennesaw (Ga.) Mountain 20-8.
Pinta said before the season that part of the reason she entered the Bears in the event was so they could find their identity against unfamiliar teams. The event turned out to serve another purpose as well, as it provided UA with its first game action of the year.
The Bears were scheduled to open the season against Watterson on March 23, but the contest was canceled because it would have coincided with the Watterson boys basketball's team appearance in the Division II state final.
"(The Dogwood Classic) was an unknown commodity, but I'm pretty happy about how we performed outside that (Walton) game," said Pinta, whose team entered the week 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the OCC-Buckeye Division. "Part of that was because we were playing our first game, and some of the teams down there are halfway through their seasons already. That's a big disparity. But we just didn't show up to play as intense that game as in the others."
UA has fared well since, edging Worthington Kilbourne 15-14 in its OCC-Buckeye opener April 11 and recording lopsided wins against Cleveland Heights (12-3) and Toledo St. Ursula (10-1) in the Hannigan-Galipault Tournament held April 13 at Thomas Worthington.
Senior midfielders Samantha Farwick and Nicole Stines each had five goals against Kilbourne.
UA had a league game against Dublin Coffman on April 16 but does not play again until it faces Hilliard Darby in a league contest April 25 at home.
Pinta said she still is finalizing her lineup in the wake of having six players who nursed various injuries during the preseason.
Entering the week, two of the Bears' top defenders, seniors Macauley Mikes and Abbey Stricharczuk, were key to their attack.
"We can't have it all," Pinta said. "Our challenge right now is, who are our 12 hardest workers? That can change from day to day."
Boys lacrosse team hardly 'unsettled'
Perhaps not surprisingly, boys lacrosse coach Ted Wolford said his team didn't face much adversity during a 4-0 start in which it defeated each opponent by six goals or more.
Wolford is pleased that the players responded well to what he called "unsettled situations," especially during a trip to Pittsburgh that saw the Bears defeat Sewickley (Pa.) Academy 10-3 on April 6 and Pittsburgh Shady Side Academy 8-1 on April 7.
"We ended up with a lot of fast-break situations and the guys took advantage of it on both sides, being able to pick up groundballs and get them to the offensive player very quickly," Wolford said.
"Having numbers are really important in terms of getting the right looks and right formations once that ball comes across midfield."
Entering an OCC-Buckeye game April 17 at Coffman, senior attacker Justin Wick had a team-high 11 goals, followed by senior midfielder Gus Ackley with eight and junior attacker Cam Marsh with five.
UA improved to 2-0 in the OCC-Buckeye with a 6-0 win over Thomas Worthington on April 13.
Baseball team has rough start in OCC
The baseball team hoped to get back on track in the OCC-Central standings this week after starting league play 1-2.
The Bears defeated Thomas Worthington in their league opener 6-2 on April 8, but lost to the Cardinals 12-2 in six innings on April 10 and fell to Olentangy Liberty 7-5 on April 13. UA, which entered the week 3-7 overall, is in a stretch in which it plays nine consecutive games and 12 of 14 against OCC-Central opponents.