Erin Junk had no idea she was going to play such an important role in Upper Arlington's 19-12 win over the Thomas Worthington High School girls lacrosse team May 21 in a Division I regional final.

Erin Junk had no idea she was going to play such an important role in Upper Arlington's 19-12 win over the Thomas Worthington High School girls lacrosse team May 21 in a Division I regional final.

But Junk, an attacker, scored a career-high six goals -- including two in the final two minutes of the first half -- as the Golden Bears improved to 19-2 and advanced to a state semifinal for the seventh time in eight years.

"I'm just happy and grateful," she said. "Our whole team wanted to have a great season not only for the seniors but also for (first-year coach Lynda McCandlish). It feels great to relive part of what we did last year, but this year we're hoping to go all the way."

UA had to get past a determined Thomas. The Cardinals, who finished 13-7, pulled within 9-6 with two minutes left in the first half. In the final two minutes, Junk scored two goals and Kelly Mason scored in the last 30 seconds to push the lead up to 12-6.

"Upper Arlington gained a lot of momentum with those three goals," coach Ally McCarthy said. "UA does a great job of pressuring in the midfield and we had to adjust to that a little bit."

Thomas had a hard time coming back. The Cardinals, who lost to Upper Arlington 7-6 last year in a regional final, trailed by as much as 18-9.

Kelly Mason had four goals and Lindsay Godard and Avery Toothman had three UA. For Thomas, Tara Benninger scored three goals and Megan Strasser and Hannah Tikson had two.

"We tried our best," Strasser said. "The lapse before halftime slowed us down. We tried to come out strong in the second half but that got to us today."

Thomas also lost to UA 12-10 on April 3 as it went 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye Division to finish behind the Bears (7-0) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (5-2), Dublin Jerome (4-3), Dublin Coffman (3-4), Dublin Scioto (1-5-1), Hilliard Darby (0-5-2), and Hilliard Davidson (0-6-1).

The Cardinals will lose senior attacker Sarah Princehorn (2 goals, 2 assists) and senior defender Kelsey Brinkman (6 goals, 2 assists). Both players will share the team's alumni scholarship.

"Sarah is a very compassionate, caring person. She's always positive and leads by example," McCarthy said. "Kelsey is a solid force on and off the field. She has a strong competitive drive. She has influenced this program for years to come because of her pursuit of success."

Juniors Maddy Smith and Katy Lucci and freshman Jenny Danko are expected to compete for time at goalie next season and juniors Michaela Cook and Kamarra Morris and freshman Lily Yednock should lead the defense.

Anchoring the attack should be juniors Benninger (75 goals, 38 assists), Anna Geissbuhler (71 goals, 30 assists), Tikson (42 goals, 21 assists) and Nora Posival (3 goals, 1 assist).

Juniors Stephanie Littell (39 goals, 18 assists), Strasser (21 goals, four assists) and Liz Heinze (8 goals, 8 assists), sophomore Rachel Hawkins (7 goals, 12 assists) and freshmen Tierney Ford (20 goals, 7 assists), Catie Sheban (3 goals, 5 assists) and Kendall Gordon (1 goal, 2 assists) are expected to return to the midfield.

"One of the greatest things about this season was watching the players progress with each game," McCarthy said. "Our biggest challenge for next year is to pick up where we left off and continue to each other."

At a glance

•Record: 13-7 overall, 6-1 (second) in OCC-Buckeye

•Seniors lost: Kelsey Brinkman and Sarah Princehorn

•Key returnees: Tara Benninger, Tierney Ford, Anna Geissbuhler, Stephanie Littell, Katy Lucci, Maddy Smith, Megan Strasser and Hannah Tikson