New Albany High School boys lacrosse coach Chris Brown simplified his team's game plan entering the Division I, Region 3 tournament into three parts: Control the ball and work for scoring opportunities, win 50/50 balls and play team defense.
All three were on display in a dramatic win to end the regular season May 9.
Overcoming two player-down situations in overtime, goalkeeper Matt Huizenga made a save on Dublin Jerome's final possession, the Eagles brought the ball down the field and Andre White scored from point-blank range with less than 90 seconds to play to give New Albany an 8-7 win.
Such composure and execution gave Brown optimism entering the postseason.
Seeded fifth in the region, New Albany played host to 12th-seeded Westerville Central in a second-round game May 17.
"We work for the slam dunk instead of trying to hit the 3, so to speak, and get those high-percentage shots," Brown said. "We need to maximize our opportunities with the ball and eliminate unforced turnovers. That comes from being patient and not panicking when you get some pressure on you.
"We came out on fire. We answered every challenge. Other than a few missed opportunities, overall it was our best game of the year."
New Albany won five of its final seven regular-season games and was 12-6 entering the regional tournament.
White's goal to end the regular season was his 51st of the year to go with 25 assists, and he entered the tournament with a program-record 230 career points.
"He has the ability to put the ball into the net like no other player that has been through this program," Brown said.
White took pride in having a more balanced game after recording 71 goals and 18 assists as a junior.
"I am sliding quicker and feeding the ball. I've been comfortable with it all year," he said. "I wasn't much of a feeder last year, and that was something I wanted to change."
White, Josh Bridges and Drew Miller are the Eagles' starting midfielders. Noah Bressler, Nathan Reader and Cory Roberts are the starting attackers, and the defense has been led by Elijah Bridges, Luke Muter and Chandler Wilson.
White called Bridges' work as a defensive midfielder "underrated" for a unit that allowed four or fewer goals six times through 18 games.
"I think the position is a little underrated because we are not out there scoring goals with the offensive midfield or stripping away balls from the opponent like the long-stick midfielder," Bridges said. "Our job (as defensive midfielders) is to do the dirty work, pick up groundballs and clear it across the field. Those seem like little things, but in the grand scheme they add up."
The New Albany-Central winner will visit fourth-seeded Hilliard Davidson or 13th-seeded Hilliard Bradley for a regional quarterfinal Saturday, May 20. That winner likely will visit top-seeded Upper Arlington for a regional semifinal Wednesday, May 24, and the semifinal winner will play host to the regional final May 27.
Of those teams, the Eagles defeated Bradley 11-4 on April 1.
"I really like the pace of our offense. We're playing fast," White said. "We are pushing transition, which is good. Our defense is not getting beat one-on-one."
Frye leads track
teams in league meet
The track and field teams got contributions from all areas during the OCC-Capital Division meet that concluded May 13 at Dublin Coffman.
Max Frye's wins in the 110-meter hurdles (14.66 seconds), 300 hurdles (37.99) and high jump (6 feet, 2 inches), and wins from the 400 relay (44.91) and 1,600 relay (3:27.82), led the boys team to 82 points and fourth place behind Canal Winchester (152), Newark (116) and Big Walnut (96) and ahead of Groveport (47) and Franklin Heights (30). The 3,200 relay was second (8:14.38), as was Kenny McDonald in the long jump (22 feet).
The girls were fifth (54) behind Big Walnut (158), Canal Winchester (117), Groveport (94) and Newark (59) and ahead of Franklin Heights (41). No Eagles girls won individual titles, but the 800 relay (1:47.07) and Jalyn Austin in the 400 (1:00.26) both were second.
"Where we're strong, we were strong, and where we're going in the right direction, we saw even more improvement," boys coach Crickett Anderson said.
New Albany began Division I, district 1 competition earlier this week at Hilliard Darby.
Preliminaries for the running events were May 16, followed by field events Thursday, May 18, and finals for the running events Saturday, May 20.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional, which is Wednesday, May 24, and May 26 at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event qualify for state June 2 and 3 at Ohio State.
advances in tourney
Competing in its first Division I district semifinal since 2010, the baseball team played sixth-seeded Pickerington Central on May 15.
Seeded 10th, New Albany advanced with a 7-3 win over visiting and 20th-seeded Coffman in a second-round game May 10. Cameron Wedekind earned the win as the Eagles scored five runs in their final at-bat to pull ahead.
New Albany was 19-8 overall before May 15. The Eagles finished OCC-Capital play at 11-4 with a 12-2 win over Franklin Heights on May 9.
The New Albany-Central winner played second-seeded Darby or 19th-seeded UA in a district final May 17. The district champion advances to a regional final May 25 at Coffman.
The Eagles haven't won a district title since 2010.
Girls lacrosse team
earns favorite role
The girls lacrosse team ended the regular season as undefeated OCC-Buckeye champions and will begin the postseason as the favorite - at least on paper - to win the Division I, Region 1 tournament.
New Albany wrapped up a 7-0 league season with a 14-7 win over Olentangy Liberty on May 10 in a showdown between unbeaten teams in the OCC-Buckeye. Molly Berend's four goals led the Eagles, and Alyssa Kneedler and Emily Rezabek added three each.
New Albany finished the regular season at 14-3 overall and will play host to 14th-seeded Wadsworth or 15th-seeded Westerville South in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 19.
The winner will play host to fourth-seeded Perrysburg, fifth-seeded Brunswick, 10th-seeded Strongsville or 11th-seeded Westerville Central in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 23. That winner will advance to the regional final May 27.
Of those teams, the Eagles defeated Central 19-1 in a league game April 24.
Boys tennis team
coasts into district
After dominating a Division I sectional tournament that concluded May 13 at Reynoldsburg, the boys tennis team will try to pull off the same feat at district Thursday, May 18, at Davidson and Saturday, May 20, at UA.
Robert Cash won the sectional singles title, defeating Thomas Worthington's Kai Britz 6-0, 6-0 in the final. Alek Jacoby placed third and Chris Mathes was fourth as the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced.
Graeme Green and Nathan Jose won the doubles championship, defeating teammates Alex Cash and Ben Yan 6-0, 6-0 in the final.
New Albany was the only school in the district to advance all of its players through sectional.
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles will advance to state May 26 and 27 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
New Albany was 12-2 before playing St. Charles on May 15 in an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district semifinal. The winner will play Jerome or UA in the district final on a date to be determined.
Softball coach saw
The softball team played its best at the end of the season, winning three of its final five games and pushing OCC-Capital rival Groveport to the brink in a 3-2 loss in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 10.
With a roster of mostly underclassmen and no junior varsity team, New Albany finished 7-14 overall and 3-7 in the OCC-Capital.
"I feel like we really made great strides and improvements," coach Stephanie Andrick said. "It was tough for these players early on in the season, adjusting to varsity softball where the competition is faster, stronger and older. We were learning to play together as a team, and that really showed towards the end."
Senior shortstop Sierra Parkinson, a North Carolina recruit, had a team-best .641 batting average with six home runs and 19 RBI. Sophomore Taylor Rhea (P/OF) batted .400 with 26 hits, 11 RBI and two home runs and also split time in the circle with junior Omega Garrett.
Senior Lydia Gordon (C/OF) batted .362 with 21 hits and 6 RBI, ahead of sophomore utility player Kirsten Tibbitts (.338, 24 hits, 2 HR, 20 RBI).
"Taylor put in so much work and her (pitching) performance in the tournament game was absolutely masterful," Andrick said. "She controlled the batters and had great composure."
The Eagles tied Canal Winchester for fourth in the league behind Groveport (10-0) and Big Walnut and Newark (both 7-3) and ahead of Franklin Heights (0-10).
Seeded 35th in the 45-team tournament, New Albany defeated host and 26th-seeded Logan 8-5 in the first round May 8 before losing to the sixth-seeded Cruisers. That came one day after the Eagles lost to Groveport 7-1 in the league finale for both teams.