The New Albany High School girls soccer team allowed five goals in its first six games, but coach Jared Dombrowski spreads credit far beyond a deep defensive unit that includes a freshman goalkeeper.
Led by center backs Scarlett Tischer and Ellen Weikert, left back Erin Carson and right back Maria Miller in front of goalie Jordan Conley, New Albany was 5-1-1 before its OCC-Capital Division opener Sept. 12 at Newark.
"It's been a team effort," Dombrowski said. "Having a freshman keeper and a back four that have been playing well recently, they've been starting to click. But it's been one of those things where the back line is doing their job, the midfield is doing their job defensively and the forwards are doing a good job not allowing teams to play out. It's one of those things where everybody has played their role to get us to this point."
Miller, a Wittenberg commit, and Weikert, who has committed to St. Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana, are seniors. Carson is a junior and Tischer is a sophomore.
New Albany outscored its first six opponents 31-3, posting shutouts against Licking Heights (10-0 on Aug. 22), Westerville North (3-0 on Aug. 29), Hartley (6-0 on Aug 31) and Pickerington Central (5-0 on Sept. 2) before a 3-1 loss to Olentangy on Sept. 7.
The Eagles gave up a late goal in a 5-1 win at Reynoldsburg on Sept. 5 and tied Hilliard Davidson at 2 on Aug. 26.
Dombrowski has no reservations about starting younger players anywhere on the field, as proven by the fact that against Reynoldsburg, he started three freshmen -- Conley as well as midfielders Kelis Brown and Morgan Wiest.
Wiest scored 26 seconds into the game.
"I didn't know it was going to come together this quickly ... (but) they are rising to the occasion," Dombrowski said. "I don't look at age. I look at ability and what you are willing to do for this team. We have some young girls, then Scarlett as a sophomore, blending in well with these upperclassmen."
Weikert, who started occasionally as a junior and now is a full-time starter, said communication has been the key in the defense.
"We've been in the right spots and moving correctly," she said. "It's exceeded my expectations. I didn't know because we had Scarlett as a sophomore and we had to figure out who would fill in the outside back roles."
Weikert is the only defender to have scored this year, as she recorded two goals against Licking Heights. Nine Eagles had scored through seven games, led by Lydia Cornelius' 11 goals and Mia Thatcher's seven.
Miller said another part of the defense's success is its effective relationship with the midfield.
"We work very well together and try not to get broken down as a unit," she said. "When we're winning defensively, we try to build out into our midfield and that's why we're successful. Our depth is crazy. We have good freshmen who are pushing us and add lots of depth and talent. We have fast players and strong players who add different components. Coach always tells us we each have something to bring to the team."
Girls tennis coach
applauds team's depth
With a slew of matches scheduled this month after a slow start, not to mention the prospect of the team's 11th OCC-Capital championship in 12 years, girls tennis coach Marc Thomas expressed confidence in his lineup.
"The one thing we do have is a lot of girls who are flexible and can play a lot of positions," Thomas said. "It's an unselfish group. No one is worried about themselves over what the team has to do to win. We have a lot of high-character girls who all want to work hard and are willing to move wherever I ask."
New Albany was 5-2 overall before playing Dublin Coffman on Sept. 11 and 3-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing Big Walnut on Sept. 12.
The Eagles had just four matches in August, going 2-2, and have 11 scheduled this month.
Makena Romagnano has played first singles recently, followed by Elizabeth Hancock and Emma Waite at second and third singles, respectively. Doubles teams usually have consisted of some combination of Valentina DiLorenzo, Thalia Fuentes, Madison Koenig and Alexandra Vitellas, but Thomas has tinkered there as well.
DiLorenzo has remained at doubles. She and Romagnano, whom Thomas called "our No. 1 (singles player) straight up," won the first-doubles championship in the Olentangy Invitational on Aug. 26.
"We've had a lot of good matches in practice," Thomas said. "That's what I expect from these girls. We're still figuring some of this out from a competitive standpoint, but the (regular) season is going to be over before we know it."
The Eagles' remaining league match, against Newark, was postponed Aug. 24. According to Thomas, a makeup date had not been determined entering the week.
New Albany lost its only Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament match, 3-2 at Pickerington Central on Aug. 21.
Boys soccer team
The boys soccer team put a four-game winning streak on the line when it played Newark in its OCC-Capital opener Sept. 12.
After a 0-2 start, New Albany outscored its next four opponents 17-6, defeating Dublin Scioto (5-2 on Aug. 24), Westerville North (6-2 on Aug. 29), Reynoldsburg (4-1 on Sept. 5) and Hilliard Davidson (2-1 on Sept. 7).
Noah Boffo had consecutive two-goal games against North and Reynoldsburg, tying him with Drew Fischer for the team lead with four through six games. Fischer had all of his goals against Scioto.
Against Davidson, J.T. Wilson scored both goals and goalie Parker Phillips made five saves.