After a disappointing finish a year ago, the Columbus Academy field hockey team entered this season motivated to return to a familiar setting.
The Vikings earned a berth in a state semifinal with a 5-0 win over Olentangy Liberty in a district final Oct. 28 at Liberty.
Academy is seeking its 11th state title and first since 2013. The Vikings, who have won 23 district titles, finished second in the state in 2014, losing to Shaker Heights 1-0 in the final.
Last season, the Vikings lost to Thomas Worthington 3-1 in a district final.
"This is really special," coach Anne Horton said. "I decided this year we were going to own the fact that we lost (last season) and we had to make it part of our mission to get back to where we wanted to be and we talked about it frequently. The kids have to get comfortable with the pressure of wanting to do it and it made a difference this year."
The Vikings are 17-2 and will play Shaker Heights in a semifinal Friday, Nov. 3, at Upper Arlington. The winner plays Thomas or Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in the state final Saturday, Nov. 4, at UA.
Academy defeated Shaker Heights 3-0 on Oct. 13 and lost to Thomas 2-1 on Sept. 19.
"We're not done," Horton said. "These kids want to go all the way. They've had gold in the back of their minds all season. They know Thomas is a tough team. Shaker is very respectable, so it's not going to be an easy battle, but we're ready for it."
Against fourth-seeded Liberty, second-seeded Academy pulled away in the second half with four unanswered goals.
Avie Smith led the Vikings with two goals, and Carolyn Bowman, Mercedes Crestanello and Lauren Bernacki each added one. Crestanello also had three assists, and goalkeeper Alex Phelps had one save.
"This is awesome," senior Maddie DeAscentis said. "Being back on this field (at Liberty) reminds me when we lost last year and just being back here again is a really rewarding experience in winning it."
Academy defeated UA 3-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at home as DeAscentis scored two goals and Kiersten Thomassey added one.
Boys soccer team wins district title
The boys soccer team won its first district title since 2015, defeating Granville 2-1 in a shootout in a Division II final Oct. 28 at Gahanna.
"They played extremely hard, they played with a lot of energy and focus, they really wanted this and it came through for them, so it was their game," coach Ron Leach said.
The Vikings were 13-4-3 before playing Tipp City Tippecanoe in a regional semifinal Nov. 1 at Springfield, with the winner playing Kettering Alter or Cincinnati Wyoming in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 4, at a neutral site to be determined.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 8, at a neutral site to be determined. The state final is Nov. 11 at Mapfre Stadium.
Against third-seeded Granville, fourth-seeded Academy tied the game at 1 on Tyler Schlonsky's first-half goal and then outscored the Blue Aces 4-2 on penalty kicks.
Jack Ostrowski, who converted the Vikings' first penalty kick, replaced Justin Kahle in goal for Granville's fourth chance and turned away Christian Sams' shot.
"Jack just reads the game so quickly," Leach said. "It's a natural thing for him. If you watch him on the field it's the same situation. As soon as the ball is played, he's going. It comes to understanding the game well and reading the game well."
Academy reached the district final with a 3-2 win at second-seeded Bexley on Oct. 25. Angus Soderberg and Evan Scott scored for the Vikings.
Football team preps for playoffs
The football team clinched its second consecutive postseason berth with a 41-7 win over visiting Grandview on Oct. 27.
The Vikings also secured a share of the MSL-Ohio Division title with London and Whitehall, as all three teams went 4-1.
Academy is seeded fifth in Division V, Region 19 and will visit Belmont Union Local for a first-round game Friday, Nov. 3. Both teams are 8-2.
Union Local is making its first postseason appearance since 2008. The Jets are coached by Bruce Stiles and play in the Buckeye 8 Conference.
"They are impressive," coach Robin Miller said. "They are hard-nosed and run hard. They have similar schemes to us on both sides of the ball."
The winner plays top-seeded Wheelersburg or eighth-seeded Ready in a regional semifinal Nov. 10 at a neutral site to be determined.
Against Grandview, Herman Moultrie rushed for 102 yards and two touchdowns and caught a touchdown pass from Matt Saling, who threw for 159 yards and two scores.
Cross country teams shine at regional
The boys and girls cross country teams turned in strong efforts in the Division III regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North.
The boys finished second (84) of 16 teams behind Leesburg Fairfield (75) and advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 4, at National Trail Raceway.
Nick Robie was third (16 minutes, 34.69 seconds), followed by Nick Watson (11th, 16:43.88), Luke Nester (19th, 16:52.89), Liam McCann (33rd, 17:27.83), Chris Heermann (43rd, 17:46.69), Abhi Ramesh (63rd, 18:16.97) and Charlie Sabgir (76th, 18:28.87).
The girls finished 10th (252) of 16 teams behind champion Mount Gilead (40) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced.
Sophomore Annalise Grammel and freshman Reagan Cornelius qualified for state by finishing third (19:31.19) and 10th (20:13.77), respectively.
Cornelius then traveled to Liberty to play for the field hockey team, while Grammel headed to Gahanna to compete for the girls soccer team in a Division III district final against Grandview.
Other runners at regional were Maddie Tuckerman (76th, 22:32.91), Ryan Milbourne (111th, 24:21.97) and Rachel Raque (121st, 25:32.4).
Girls soccer team loses district final
The second-seeded girls soccer team finished 14-3-2 overall, losing to top-seeded Grandview 1-0 in shootout in a Division III district final Oct. 28 at Gahanna.
The game was scoreless through regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods. The Bobcats then outscored the Vikings 4-2 on penalty kicks.
Senior defender Claire Neltner and sophomore defen-der/midfielder Sarah Neltner scored for Academy.
"This was a fabulous opportunity for the girls," coach Matt Thompson said. "They battled all season. I could not be more proud of a group of kids. They're resilient, they care about each other (and) they gave everything they could possibly give."
In the regular season, the Vikings defeated the Bobcats 5-4 on Oct. 7 at Mapfre Stadium on their way to winning the MSL-Ohio title at 6-0-1.
Academy opened the postseason with a 9-0 win over 15th-seeded Madison Plains on Oct. 17. It then defeated 10th-seeded Fisher Catholic 8-0 on Oct. 19 and fifth-seeded Worthington Christian 3-2 in a shootout in a district semifinal Oct. 25.
Academy won the MSL-Ohio ahead of Worthington Christian (4-1-2), Grandview (4-2-1), Wellington (4-3), Bexley (3-2-2), Zanesville Rosecrans (3-4), London (1-6) and Whitehall (0-7).
Clare Neltner, senior Apsara Som (midfielder/forward) and sophomores Grammel (midfielder) and Sarah Neltner were first-team all-league. Senior Muriel Goldfarb (forward/midfielder) and freshman Katie Schiano (midfielder/forward) were second-team all-league, and senior Tori Abell (midfielder/forward) was honorable mention all-league.
Som was first-team all-district, Grammel and Sarah Neltner were second-team all-district and Clare Neltner and Schiano were third-team all-district.
Others eligible to return are juniors Madalynn Farkas (midfielder/forward), Leah Pierre-Louis (forward/midfielder/def-ender) and Megan Schmitz (midfielder/defender), sophomore Emma Belford (for-ward/midfielder) and freshmen Olivia Archibald (forward), Allison Bergman (goalie), Hannah Clay (forward/midfielder) and Ashwini Gunawardena (defender/midfielder).