The Westerville North High School boys lacrosse team believes it is playing its best heading into the Division I Central Region tournament, which begins May 23.
The tournament drawing is Sunday, May 19.
Before playing Westerville Central on May 15, the Warriors had won three consecutive games to improve to 8-8 overall.
North was 3-3 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Central.
"I love the way this team is playing," senior defender Grant Shoemaker said. "We're coming together at the right time and we're going to make a strong run."
North closes the regular season Saturday, May 18, at home against Whitehouse Anthony Wayne.
Coach Austin Ford credits his defense for playing a key role in the team's recent success. The defense has been led by Shoemaker and seniors Adam Gray, Joe Willis and Will Hash (long-stick midfielder).
"Our defense has been great the last three or four games," Ford said before the Central contest.
Shoemaker and Willis shared the team's defensive Player of the Year award last season.
"That felt so good, but I would like to get even higher awards this year," Shoemaker said.
Through 16 games, goalkeeper Will Newton had 160 saves.
The winning streak included a 13-3 win over Westerville South on May 8.
"Beating South means so much to the program," Shoemaker said. "They're our rival. Any year that you beat them, especially after last year when they beat us (11-7) in the regular season, it means a lot."
North took an early lead in a 15-7 win over Gahanna on May 10.
"We just put up eight goals against Gahanna in the first quarter, which I don't think I've ever seen them do," Ford said. "We're learning how to start off games right."
Also through 16 games, senior midfielder Peter Sandvik led the team in scoring with 35 goals and 23 assists, sophomore attacker Cody Fisher had 31 goals and senior attacker Ryan Buck had 26 goals and 18 assists.
Sandvik led in groundballs with 84, followed by Shoemaker with 77.
"The offense is clicking, possessing the ball and moving it," Ford said. "We realize what we have to do with the depth we have and the players we have right now. We're handling our depth and our injury issues."
Central boys look to rebound
The Central boys team entered the week looking to bounce back from a 14-13 loss to visiting Olentangy Orange on May 10.
The Warhawks played without midfielder Jared Drake, who was competing in a track and field meet in Galion, and midfielder David Alexander, who missed the game because of a family commitment.
Goalie Nick Bradburn made 10 saves.
The Warhawks fell behind 4-0 but tied the game at 4 on attacker C.J. Naples' goal with 6 minutes, 44 seconds left in the second quarter. That was the final tie of the game.
The Warhawks trailed 13-9 early in the fourth quarter before closing within 14-13 on Naples' goal with 46 seconds left.
Orange goalie Robert McHale stopped attacker Brooks Burton's game-tying bid with 9.5 seconds remaining.
"They're still a great group, they're still working their butts off," coach Keith Copeland said. "We're still learning for some reason. As a coaching staff, we're trying some different things. Overall, we just need to be a little more aggressive and just come together and find a way to make it happen. We've come up short like this too many times."
The Warhawks close the regular season Friday, May 17, at Olentangy Liberty.
Central was 6-9 overall after losing to Thomas Worthington 9-5 on May 13 and 4-2 in the OCC-Central before playing North on May 15.
Entering the week, Naples had 50 goals, Burton had 22 goals and 18 assists, midfielder Mitchell Radigan had 16 goals and 16 assists, attacker Bobby Zimmerer had 13 goals and 21 assists, Drake had 16 goals and Bradburn had 150 saves.
South boys struggling
The South boys team was 2-12 overall and had lost four consecutive games before playing Gahanna on May 15.
The Wildcats' wins came against Wellington 8-5 on April 7 and Wheeling (W.Va.) Park 17-8 on April 21.
South girls open postseason with win
The South girls team defeated visiting Delaware 19-8 in a Division I North/Central Region tournament first-round game May 13.
Midfielder Victoria Husain led the Wildcats with eight goals. Midfielder Olivia Skaates scored five goals, midfielder McKenna Davis had three and goalie Isa Rodriguez had 13 saves.
South was 10-7 overall before playing top-seeded Medina in the second round May 15.
The winner plays North Canton Hoover, Stow-Munroe Falls or Wooster in a semifinal Monday, May 20, with that winner playing Liberty, Mentor, Perrysburg, Toledo Notre Academy or Westerville Central in a regional final May 23.
Central was 5-9-1 overall before playing Notre Dame Academy in the first round May 14, and the winner played Liberty in the second round May 15.
The second-round winner plays Mentor or Perrysburg in a semifinal Monday, May 20.
Because its players had other commitments, North decided not to participate in the tournament. The Warriors finished 6-10 overall.