The Upper Arlington High School boys lacrosse team played two games in the Division I state tournament last week, and in each contest, one team opened the scoring with three unanswered goals.
The Golden Bears did the honors in an 11-5 win over Dublin Jerome in the state final June 7 at Olentangy Liberty. The state championship is their third in a row, their fourth in the last five years and their 15th overall.
Coach Ted Wolford said he never doubted for a second that the Bears would fare better in the final after jumping out to a three-goal lead than Hudson did against them in a state semifinal June 4 at Denison University. The Explorers took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, only to watch UA control the game from that point en route to a 14-10 win.
Of the Bears' first four shots against Jerome, three were goals and one hit the post.
"From watching the guys go through shooting before the game, we could tell we were dialed in and focused," Wolford said. "We saw Hudson jump up three (goals) on us, then we crept back in. To be in the position to be ahead and value our possessions on offense and make sure we're not doing risky things and we're working hard to protect the ball ... it opened the field more to create more driving lanes and more opportunities to get open and get the good shots off."
Against Jerome, Kyle Roberts scored a team-high four goals, Justin Wick had three goals and an assist and Cam Marsh scored twice for the Bears, who finished 21-2 and ended the season on a 12-game winning streak.
UA, which had defeated Jerome by a score of 7-6 in each of the previous two state finals, led the Celtics 5-3 at halftime and stretched its lead to 7-4 by the end of the third quarter. The final goal of the quarter was scored with six seconds left, as Wick came from behind the Jerome net and fired a high pass to Marsh, who stuck his shot above and to the left of Celtics goalkeeper Chase Rose.
"I beat my guy, Marsh was wide open back-side and I fed to him," Wick said. "Getting that momentum going into the fourth quarter was huge."
UA increased its lead to 8-4 just 51 seconds into the fourth quarter on a goal by Wick, who scored on a one-timer off an assist from Danny Logan.
After the Bears grabbed the early lead, they relied on a swarming defense that employed effective double- and triple-teams. Wolford put Brandon Jones, who was named state Player of the Year and state Defender of the Year in Division I, on Jerome attacker Mikey Bano and Trent Porterfield on Celtics attacker Shawn Ewert. Bano was held scoreless and Ewert was limited to two goals.
Jones intercepted a pass intended for Bano and fed Marsh, who assisted Wick on the game's final goal with 3:36 remaining.
"I think (Bano) is their best player," Jones said. "I kept pressing, they threw it to him and I was there. We just had to play sound, fundamental defense. When we did that, they started to turn the ball over and good things happened for us."
Griffin Caldwell and Logan each added a goal for UA, and goalie Christian Carlin made nine saves.
Rose had six saves for the Celtics, who finished 17-5.
"At the end of the day, it's a win or a loss. Whether you win by one or lose by five or six, it's still a loss," Jerome coach A.J. Auld said. "We weren't able to overcome what I would consider a pretty slow start by our team. I thought we outplayed them a little bit in the third quarter, but to be down three after three was a little bit discouraging."
Against Hudson, Marsh had four goals and Logan and Wick both scored three as UA went on a 7-2, fourth-quarter run to subdue the Explorers. Carlin had 13 saves against Hudson, which won 18 of 26 draws.
"Every single year, there are always doubts entering the year and we don't know what to expect," Jones said. "Every championship is special."