During its run to the OCC-Buckeye Division championship, the Olentangy Liberty High School boys lacrosse team's balance on both sides of the field showed.
Setting the tone for a team that outscored its league opponents by a combined 83-23 has been senior defensive midfielder Dylan Comella.
One of the team's key players on faceoffs, Comella also sees time at long-stick midfielder and is versatile enough that he also can play at attacker.
"Dylan is the ultimate utility guy," coach Jason Godwin said.
"He's tough and has a great lacrosse IQ. He really knows the game. He often coaches kids up well. One thing he does is model effort. We admire his hard work and effort in drills and in games. Dylan is a team leader and guys follow his lead."
The Patriots were 11-5 overall before playing Delaware on May 10 and are 6-0 in the OCC-Buckeye heading into their league finale Friday, May 12, at home against Westerville North.
New Albany, Olentangy and Orange all finished 5-2 in the league.
Through 13 games, Comella was second on the team in groundballs with 40, behind senior long-stick midfielder Chase Snyder (50), and was among the team leaders in faceoffs won with senior midfielders Griffin Hughes and Logan Senhauser and junior midfielder Ryan Kessler.
"Our team chemistry has gone up a little bit this season," Comella said.
"At the beginning of the season we were watching Johnny (Wiseman) and Griffin (Hughes) dodge opponents and now we're opening up space and starting to mesh as a team."
Comella, who has committed to play for Capital, believes his offseason work in box lacrosse has helped him in prep competition.
Box lacrosse is a form of five-on-five indoor lacrosse that originated in Canada and is traditionally played on an ice hockey rink.
Comella is one of 26 players to have been selected to represent Team USBOXLA in this summer's U18 tour in Vancouver, British Columbia. There are five others from Ohio also on the team.
"It's a lot more like hockey where the goalies where hockey masks, and it's a lot more physical than field lacrosse," Comella said.
"I've been playing it since my sophomore year and I've just gotten better and better at it. I'm a transition player in box lacrosse and it teaches you how to handle the ball in tight situations and be physical getting groundballs.
"I play short stick most of the time in field lacrosse, and I just really like the physicality of it. My background in box lacrosse helps."
The Patriots are seeded first for the Division I, Region 1 tournament and open the postseason May 20 at home against 14th-seeded Marysville or 15th-seeded Berea-Midpark in a second-round game.
Liberty had won seven of eight games before playing Delaware, including beating Hudson 8-7 in overtime April 14 and Olentangy 7-5 on April 20.
"The wins over other teams in our district more than just (helped us win) an OCC title," Godwin said.
"The win over Olentangy was good. It got us closer to a No. 1 seed in our playoff bracket. That's what our team was looking for in that win."
Tennis team set
to open postseason
The doubles team of senior Hoang Do and junior Adithya Nair is the fourth seed for the Division I boys tennis sectional tournament Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Reynoldsburg.
Do and Nair have a first-round bye. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 18 at Hilliard Davidson and May 20 at Upper Arlington.
During most of the regular season, Do played first singles and Nair was at first doubles.
"(Do has) stepped up this year," coach Josh Matusky said of the Ohio Northern commit. "He's got a strong forehand and a strong serve, one of the strongest serves in central Ohio.
"His strength is his ability to hit balls hard."
The other entrant in doubles is junior Samanyu Das and freshman Tarun Nandakumar, who open against Groveport's Ryan Harder and Abe Alemu in the first round.
In singles, freshman Marcello Aguilar opens against Worthington Kilbourne's Jack Leftridge in the first round while senior Nick Darrah opens against Thomas Worthington's JunSung Park and junior K.J. Lawal plays Reynoldsburg's Jaxon Matan in play-in matches.
Girls lacrosse team
preps for tourney
The second-seeded girls lacrosse team plays host to 14th-seeded Delaware on Tuesday, May 16, in the first round of the Division I, Region 1 tournament.
The winner plays fifth-seeded Orange or 10th-seeded Toledo Notre Dame Academy on May 19 in the second round.
The Patriots were 10-5 overall and 6-0 in the OCC-Buckeye before playing May 10 at New Albany with the league championship on the line. The Eagles also were 6-0 in the league.
After losing to Dublin Jerome 14-12 on May 4, Liberty edged Medina 12-11 on May 5. Molly Bursinger finished with five goals, Mollie McCormack scored three and Madison Rapier had two against Medina.
The Patriots beat Olentangy 23-13 on May 2 as McCormack scored six goals, Bursinger and Rapier each scored four and Grace Buckey and Jordan Reineke both scored three.
Baseball team falls
in tourney opener
On May 8, the 21st-seeded baseball team lost to 34th-seeded Reynoldsburg 5-2 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Patriots finished 11-12 overall.
They were 6-8 in the OCC-Buckeye heading into their game May 5 against Olentangy, which was postponed because of bad weather. Since the Braves already have the league title wrapped up, it's uncertain whether the game will be made up.
The 22nd-seeded softball team beat 43rd-seeded Thomas 20-0 on May 8 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
The Patriots were 9-10 overall before playing fifth-seeded Mount Vernon in the second round, with the winner playing 14th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 31st-seeded Jerome on Monday, May 15, in a district semifinal at a site to be announced.
The district final is May 19 or 20 at Pickerington Central.
Liberty's 5-2 loss May 3 at Olentangy gave it a final league record of 5-5.
Track teams set
for OCC, postseason
The boys and girls track and field teams compete in the OCC-Buckeye meet Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Orange.
Both teams also open the Division I postseason next week at Darby.
The boys team will compete in the district 2 meet, which holds field events Tuesday, May 16, preliminaries for the running events Wednesday, May 17, and finals for the running events May 20.
The girls team is in district 1, which holds running preliminaries May 16, field events May 18 and running finals May 20.
The top four finishers in each event advance to the regional May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North.
On May 5 in the Delaware County Elite 8 meet, the boys finished fourth (73) behind champion and host Orange (163) and the girls were runners-up (111) behind Orange (153).
For the girls team, Emma Bower won the 3,200 meters (11 minutes, 48.95 seconds), Sydney Englehart won the 400 (59.8), Mollie Kunar won the shot put (33 feet, 10 3/4 inches), Abby Summers was first in the 100 (12.51) and 200 (25.89) and the 3,200 relay of Bower, Lily Biros, Emily Matta and Gracie Sprankle also took first (9:50.54).
Jonathan Mace won the 110 hurdles (15.23) and 300 hurdles (42.32) for the boys squad.
season winding down
The boys volleyball team went 2-1 in the Spike for Tykes tournament May 5 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, beating Stow-Munroe Falls 25-23, 25-20 and Middletown Fenwick 25-22, 17-25, 25-17 and losing to Cincinnati McNicholas 25-17, 25-17.
The Patriots, who split their two matches in pool play, beating Pickerington North 25-15 and losing to Cincinnati St. Xavier 25-12, are 9-6 overall.
They play Thursday, May 11, at Davidson and then are host to DeSales and Cleveland St. Ignatius on Saturday, May 13.
With a 25-16, 25-14, 25-14 loss May 4 at Olentangy, the Patriots finished 3-5 in the OCC-Buckeye.