Gracie Pine scored six goals and Zoe Kellerman added five as the New Albany High School girls lacrosse team defeated Olentangy Liberty 15-9 in the Division I, Region 1 final May 27 at Olentangy.

But Eagles coach Dave Ferguson wanted to make sure his team’s defense got its share of the credit, especially because after top-seeded New Albany took a 3-2 lead halfway through the first half, the Eagles limited second-seeded Liberty to only one goal over the next 28 minutes, 35 seconds.

“Everybody played exceptionally well, but the defense is what stood out,” Ferguson said. “We started taking control of the game and tried to slow it down. We were good in transition and I liked the shots we made.

“The thing about Liberty is they have great athletes. They are a fast-break team and we had to be mindful of that. They can shoot and get up on you quickly, but we felt like our defense was outstanding. I think we have one of the best defenses in the state.”

New Albany improved to 18-3 and will play in a state semifinal May 30 at a neutral site to be determined.

Madison Rapier had four goals and Molly McCormick scored three for Liberty, which finished 15-7. The Patriots were making their first regional final appearance.

“We fell short skill-wise,” Liberty coach Nicole Stines said. “They have great sticks and that’s where our biggest fault was. We weren’t protecting the ball and covering it.”

Division II

DeSales 14, Columbus Academy 4

Top-seeded DeSales scored 11 unanswered goals to erase a 4-3 first-half deficit against second-seeded Academy in the Division II, Region 7 final May 27 at Otterbein University.

“There’s no panic because we knew we were making mistakes and we just needed to fix our mistakes and we would be fine,” Stallions coach Joe Finotti said.

The defending state champion Stallions improved to 18-1 and will play in a state semifinal May, 30 at a neutral site to be determined.

Last season, DeSales defeated Chagrin Falls 10-7 in the state final for the program’s first state championship.

“Last year was the first for the program, first for everything, so last year will always be special. But this year is not far behind,” Finotti said. “This is just as sweet and very rewarding. The girls worked so hard since Feb. 20, the first day of official practices, and (the regional final) was against a big rival.”

Abbey Dop led the Stallions with five goals, while Payton Nebraska, Jennie Finotti and Grace Lensmire each scored three and goalkeeper Emily Kraker had 11 saves.

Kiersten Thomassey had three goals and Tani Obikunle scored one for Academy, which finished 11-5.

The Vikings played without starting goalie Kelley Marie Antoine, who sustained a concussion during a 16-13 win over Worthington Kilbourne in a regional semifinal May 24.

Freshman Alex Phelps, who played goalie for the junior varsity field hockey team last fall, joined the lacrosse team this week and made her debut in the regional final, finishing with four saves.

“We did everything we could. Their keeper made the difference,” said Academy coach Anne Horton, whose team also lost to the Stallions 9-8 on May 2. “When we had the looks, she made the saves, and then it was a game of cat and mouse and, if you have skilled players, there’s not much that you can do. I was proud of the girls.”

—Frank DiRenna

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