The Upper Arlington High School boys lacrosse team was six minutes from winning its third consecutive Division I state championship when coach Ted Wolford realized something about the players he had on the field.
"We had six underclassmen on the field," said Wolford, whose team defeated Dublin Jerome 11-5 in the state final June 7 at Olentangy Liberty for its fourth state title in five years and its 15th in program history. "That was kind of a shock to see that, but just the effort from all of them, it was impressive. We've been talking about how they play for each other. (On June 7), everything they did ... they just really played very well."
Paced in large part by their underclassmen, the Golden Bears took a 3-0 first-quarter lead against Jerome and outscored the Celtics 4-1 in the fourth quarter.
UA finished 21-2 overall and 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division.
"It says how far we have come from the beginning of the season, how many players have stepped up and with so many new faces on the team," said senior defender Brandon Jones, who was named state, region and league Player of the Year as well as an All-American. "So many guys stepped up. It was an honor to play with those guys. To accomplish what we accomplished this year with who we lost (to graduation from) last year, we really pulled through."
The Bears also beat Jerome in the state final in 2012 and 2013, winning both games by a score of 7-6, and went 3-0 against the Celtics this season, winning 10-6 in their regular-season and league opener April 2 and 9-7 in their regular-season finale May 18 in the North American Lacrosse Invitational at Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
Senior attacker Cam Marsh and junior attacker Justin Wick each scored 60 goals to lead UA. Wick had 30 assists for a team-high 90 points and Marsh had 29 assists and 89 points.
Junior attacker Jack Pardi had 29 goals and 22 assists and senior midfielder Kyle Roberts had 29 goals and 14 assists.
Marsh was named state Attacker of the Year and was first-team all-state along with Jones, Roberts and Wick. In addition to Jones, earning first-team all-region honors were Marsh, Roberts, Wick, sophomore midfielder Danny Logan, junior defender Jack Plasket and senior defender Trent Porterfield.
UA racked up a total of 267 goals, averaging of 11.6 per game, and allowed an average of 6.1 per game.
"Our defense is the best defense in the state," Wick said after the state final. "Going up three (goals in the first quarter), I knew we wouldn't let (Jerome) back in the game."
Sophomore Christian Carlin was the starting goalkeeper for most of the season. He was backed up by junior Wes Markwood.
UA shared the OCC-Buckeye championship with Worthington Kilbourne (6-1). Jerome (5-2) finished third in the league, followed by Liberty and Olentangy (both 4-3), Thomas Worthington (2-5), Dublin Coffman (1-6) and Hilliard Davidson (0-7).
Jones, Marsh, Porterfield, Roberts and Wick were first-team all-league, Plasket was second-team all-league and Logan was honorable mention all-league.
Seeded first in the Central Region tournament, the Bears defeated ninth-seeded Hilliard Darby 19-4 in the first round May 24, beat fifth-seeded Liberty 13-5 in a regional semifinal May 28 and routed North Canton Hoover 15-2 in the regional final May 31 at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy.
The Bears then fell behind Hudson 3-0 in the first quarter of a state semifinal June 4 at Denison University before rallying to win 14-10.
"Getting the quick goals, that's how we've played all year," Wolford said. "We get the longer possessions, then the quick strikes. It's a matter of not getting too much of a rush, but making sure that what you're getting is a good thing and not just shooting to shoot the ball or get rid of the ball."