Upper Arlington High School field hockey coach Kelly Roderick was hoping this would be a landmark season, as her team returned 10 starters and 11 seniors.
But not even Roderick would have predicted that the Golden Bears would start out 3-0.
UA won two of the games in overtime, defeating visiting Toledo St. Ursula 1-0 in its opener Aug. 23 and defending state champion Columbus Academy 2-1 on Aug. 25 at home. Senior forward Avery Brick scored the winning goal in both games.
Junior forward Caroline Barnum had three goals Aug. 28 to help the Bears rout Hartley 7-0 at home.
"I really hope (those games) set the tone for the season," said Roderick, who is in her second season leading the program. "It was just the way things happened. Once we had Academy on the schedule, we wanted to incorporate other high-level teams so the girls could get used to that kind of competition. The more they see those teams, they'll just regard the other team as 'Team X' who we're playing, not the name on the jersey."
Last season, UA finished 9-6-1 overall and 4-2-1 in the eight-team Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West Division, placing fourth behind eventual state runner-up Thomas Worthington (7-0).
Barnum and Brick are returning starters. The others are seniors Alee Caldwell (goalkeeper), Kate Hennessey (midfielder), Monnett Hamilton (defender/forward), Tanner Miley (forward), Audrey Pottschmidt (defender) and Sarah Shroyer (midfielder), junior Frances Sullivan (midfielder) and sophomore Giavanna Paradiso, who plays several positions.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Gracie Bergdoll (defender), Bridget Brownlee (forward/midfielder), Maggie Hobson (forward) and Katie Padavick (defender), juniors Avery Hall (forward), Elizabeth Magill (defender), Libby Royer (midfielder) and Corinne Stowe (defender) and versatile sophomores Charlotte LeBoeuf and Anna Schildmeyer.
"We have some girls we can move around, and it's nice to be able to do that," Roderick said. "We also have quite a bit of depth, thanks to all of those returning starters. It fuels competition on the field. They're excited about what this team has a chance to do, and so am I."
UA is in the midst of a 13-day break from games. Its season resumes with their league opener Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Thomas.
Volleyball team splits first four matches
According to first-year girls volleyball coach John Nguyen, the keys to improving on last year's 2-20 season are elementary.
"Accountability is a big thing, and so is just playing with a purpose," Nguyen said. "When they really want to go for it, how aggressive are they? It's a tough challenge. All of a sudden, they're asked to step up to the competition and teams that have been beating us. That can be very difficult. It takes a certain mindset.
"I need to give them that mindset and something to fight for."
UA was 2-2 overall and 2-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Hilliard Davidson on Sept. 2. The Bears opened with a 25-10, 25-19, 25-18 win over visiting Thomas Worthington in a league match Aug. 21. They then lost to Olentangy Liberty 25-20, 25-23, 25-10 in a league match Aug. 26 and Ready 27-25, 25-15, 25-16 on Aug. 27 before rebounding to beat Central Crossing 25-8, 25-21, 25-19 in a league match Aug. 28.
UA finished 1-13 in the OCC-Central last year, tying Central Crossing for seventh behind champion Dublin Coffman (14-0).
Nguyen replaced Wil Rotruck, who coached only one season.
Senior outside hitter Brigid McKee, an honorable mention all-league selection last year, leads a group of returnees that also includes seniors Katherine Adams (right-side hitter) and Jordan Spychalski (outside hitter/middle blocker).
Nguyen isn't shying from using his younger players, however. Against Ready, he started junior Lexie Czerwonka (outside hitter/right-side hitter) and sophomores Laura Bebinger (middle blocker), Emma Fetch (setter) and Madeleine McKenna (right-side hitter) with McKee and senior defensive specialist Emma Quinn.
"I juggle because I have 12 very talented kids and I am trying to find a balance," Nguyen said. "Our strongest areas are probably blocking and hitting. Our weaknesses are setting and serve receive. That's what we have to improve."
The rest of the roster consists of juniors Veronica Fulwider (setter) and Caroline Warner (setter/outside hitter) and sophomores Remington Giller (middle blocker) and Sophie Grund (defensive specialist).
Boys golfers control fate in OCC tourney
Justin Wick of the boys golf team shot a 68 to place third in the third round of the OCC-Central tournament Aug. 27 at Darby Creek.
Grant Laning and Austin Serif each carded a 71, followed by Seth Brenneman (72) and Justin Glaser (77).
UA won the third round with a school-record 282, finishing ahead of Coffman (292), Thomas (310), Liberty (298), Davidson (299) and Marysville (308) and ahead of Central Crossing (330) and Westland (431).
The Bears enter the fourth and final round of the OCC-Central tournament Wednesday, Sept. 10, at Apple Valley in first place at 20-1. Coffman and Liberty are tied for second at 17-4, followed by Davidson (11-10), Marysville (8-13), Central Crossing (7-14), Thomas (4-17) and Westland (0-21).
Ventresca leads girls golf team
Despite finishing third in the third round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Aug. 26 at The Links at Groveport, the girls golf team enters the fourth and final round Monday, Sept. 9, at Westchester in second place.
UA is 13-5 in the OCC-Ohio, behind Pickerington North (18-0) and ahead of Canal Winchester (12-6), Gahanna (11-7), Davidson (6-12), Thomas (3-10), Lancaster (1-17) and Hilliard Darby (0-7).
Alex Ventresca shot an 88 to lead the Bears in the third round, with Sophie Hemleben and Kelli Kahle carding an 89 and 91, respectively.
UA shot 375 to finish behind North (344) and Canal Winchester (365) and ahead of Gahanna (376), Davidson (384) and Lancaster (471).
Darby and Thomas did not record team scores in the round.
Aug. 23 -- vs. Toledo St. Ursula
Aug. 25 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Aug. 28 -- vs. Hartley
*Sept. 10 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 12 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 15 -- at Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 20 -- at Granville
*Sept. 22 -- at Olentangy
Sept. 25 -- at Worthington Kilbourne
Sept. 26 -- vs. Columbus School for Girls
*Sept. 29 -- at Olentangy Orange
Oct. 1 -- vs. Bexley
Oct. 3 -- vs. New Albany
*Oct. 6 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
Oct. 9 -- vs. Watterson
*Aug. 21 -- vs. Thomas Worthington
*Aug. 26 -- at Olentangy Liberty
Aug. 27 -- vs. Ready
*Aug. 28 -- at Central Crossing
*Sept. 2 -- vs. Hilliard Davidson
Sept. 3 -- at Hilliard Darby
*Sept. 4 -- at Marysville
Sept. 6 -- Dublin Scioto Invitational
*Sept. 9 -- vs. Westland
*Sept. 11 -- at Dublin Coffman
*Sept. 16 -- at Thomas Worthington
*Sept. 18 -- vs. Olentangy Liberty
*Sept. 23 -- vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 25 -- vs. Dublin Jerome
*Sept. 30 -- at Hilliard Davidson
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Marysville
*Oct. 7 -- at Westland
*Oct. 9 -- vs. Dublin Coffman