Catherine Ryan wasn't sure she had the makeup to be a goalkeeper, but faced with the choice of playing lacrosse or not, the decision was made for her.

"I was a midfielder when I was in fourth grade, and I switched to goalie when I was in the fifth grade," said Ryan, the New Albany High School girls team's starter in net for three seasons. "My coach said, 'We need a goalie and if you want to play on the team, then you can be a goalie.' So I started switching between midfield and goalie. ...

"It definitely was an acquired taste. It took me time. I struggled with the whole idea of letting in shots and I was dealing with the emotions of doing that, but I think it came down to liking being the one who talked as the center of the team."

The senior has had a lot to like about this season, as the Eagles are 17-1 and the top seed in the 15-team Division I, Region 1 tournament. New Albany earned a first-round bye and will play host to ninth-seeded Westerville North or 14th-seeded Westerville South in the second round Friday, May 18.

New Albany has given up more than four goals only seven times, and all but one of those opponents were ranked in the top 20 in the state by LaxPower.com entering the week. Three-time defending Division I state champion Upper Arlington handed the Eagles their only loss, 12-5 on May 2.

Ryan debuted on varsity late in her freshman year, splitting time with Grace Anthony before becoming the full-time starter as a sophomore.

"It takes a special person to play goalie," coach Dave Ferguson said. "You don't go 17-1 without having a good goalie. The defense supports her well and when she gets into a zone, she is incredible."

Despite her veteran status, Ryan, who said her strength is clearing the ball, still isn't necessarily comfortable in goal.

"I don't know if there's anything like real comfort there," she said. "I'm definitely comfortable in some of the more lopsided games but against UA and (Massillon) Jackson, teams like that, there's a lot of uneasiness going on."

Ryan plans to attend Indiana, where she will major in nursing and potentially play club lacrosse.

New Albany finished the regular season May 8 with a 10-5 win over Dublin Coffman. Liz Beckner, Chloe Platte and Emily Rezabek each scored three goals.

The Eagles also suffered a setback last week when defender Zoe Kellerman suffered a season-ending knee injury in practice.

New Albany cruised past both of its potential second-round opponents in the regular season, routing North 20-1 on March 20 and South 19-0 on April 26.

The second-round winner will play host to sixth-seeded Strongsville, seventh-seeded Perrysburg, eighth-seeded Wadsworth or 10th-seeded Sylvania Northview in a regional semifinal Monday, May 21.

The regional final will be May 24 at a neutral site to be determined.

Track teams perform well in league meet

The boys and girls track and field teams combined for seven wins in the OCC-Capital Division meet that concluded May 12 at Olentangy Orange, as the girls finished third and the boys placed fourth.

Grace Lowe won the 400 meters (1 minute, .41 of a second) and helped the 800 relay (1:46.59) and 1,600 relay (4:11.31) to wins, and Sophie Matt was first in the 800 (2:19.53) to lead the girls to 113 points, behind Big Walnut (137) and Canal Winchester (126) and ahead of Groveport (81), Newark (50) and Franklin Heights (16).

Rachel Blais was second in the long jump (16 feet, 7 1/2 inches), Alyssa Painter was runner-up in the 1,600 (5:25.86) and Nicole Stewart was second in the 100 (12.99).

On the boys side, Kane Breuer won the 3,200 (10:24.77), Gabe Glenn won the high jump (6-1) and Kenny McDonald was first in the long jump (22-2 1/2). Breuer and Glenn both were on the second-place 3,200 relay (8:35.76) as the Eagles scored 75 points to finish behind Big Walnut (164), Canal Winchester (120) and Newark (76) and ahead of Groveport (60) and Franklin Heights (26).

"We've come a long way. We're more well-rounded," boys coach Greg Flecher said. "In the past few seasons, we've had instances where we've put inexperienced kids in these big meets. They've put their time in and the work has paid off, especially for the girls. It's paying dividends. We have a lot of contributors. It's never been just one or two guys or girls this season."

New Albany began the Division I, district 1 meet earlier this week at Hilliard Darby.

Preliminaries for the running events were May 15, followed by field events Thursday, May 17, and running finals Saturday, May 19.

The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North.

Boys tennis team preps for district

Both of the boys tennis team's doubles pairings and two of its three singles players will participate in the Division I district tournament Thursday, May 17, at Hilliard Bradley and Saturday, May 19, at UA.

The doubles team of Devin Boyer and Nathan Jose went 4-0 in a sectional that concluded May 12 at Reynoldsburg, defeating teammates Dev Vasani and Ben Yan 6-1, 7-5 in the final. Boyer and Jose were seeded first and Vasani and Yan were fourth.

On the singles side, Ryan Mudre went 4-1 and finished second, losing to Olentangy's Stu Brdicka 6-1, 6-1 in the final. Robert Cash finished fourth, defaulting from his semifinal and final matchups because of illness.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.

Also competing but failing to advance was singles player Alek Jacoby, who went 2-1.

At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles will advance to the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

New Albany also advanced in the OTCA Division I team tournament with a 4-1 win at Orange on May 7. The Eagles improved to 13-0 and took on Gahanna in a district semifinal May 14.

The winner will visit Dublin Jerome or UA in the district final Monday, May 21. The district champion will advance to a state semifinal May 27 at Reynoldsburg.

Baseball team advances to district semifinal

The baseball team lost two of three regular-season games against Big Walnut and finished a game behind the first-place Golden Eagles in the OCC-Capital, but that was in the past as the sixth-seeded Eagles took on 14th-seeded Big Walnut in a Division I district semifinal May 14.

New Albany advanced with a 10-0, five-inning win over visiting and 22nd-seeded Hamilton Township on May 9. Jack Sokol struck out four in four innings to earn the victory.

Coupled with a 2-1 regular-season loss to Gahanna on May 11, the Eagles were 16-9 before May 14.

The New Albany-Big Walnut winner played 10th-seeded Pickerington Central or 15th-seeded Bradley in a district final May 16. The district champion advanced to a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.

Boys lacrosse team opens tourney

The boys lacrosse team brought a five-game winning streak into the Division I, Region 3 tournament, which it opened at home May 15 against 11th-seeded Pickerington Central.

The third-seeded Eagles had a first-round bye.

New Albany finished the regular season at 12-5 overall on the strength of two wins last week, 16-14 over DeSales on May 8 and 7-6 over Olentangy Liberty on May 11. Nathan Reader had 11 goals in the two games, including seven against DeSales.

The Eagles finished 6-1 in the OCC-Buckeye with the win against the Patriots, second behind Olentangy.

The New Albany-Central winner will play host to fourth-seeded St. Charles or 12th-seeded Centerville in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 18. That winner will visit second-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, eighth-seeded Thomas Worthington, ninth-seeded Westerville North, 14th-seeded Bradley or 17th-seeded Kettering Fairmont for a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 22.

The regional final will be May 25 at a neutral site.

Of those teams, New Albany defeated St. Charles 10-4 on March 26 and North 10-2 on April 12.

Pavlas named hockey coach

Former Ohio State player Luke Pavlas was named the hockey team's coach last week.

Pavlas replaced Joe Kola, who coached for the program's five seasons and guided it from club status into a varsity sport.

Pavlas, a native of Anchorage, Alaska, played for the Buckeyes from 2001-03 and spent two seasons before that with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League. He also coached in the Ohio AAA Blue Jackets organization.

His wife, Valerie Marcoux-Pavlas, was a three-team Canadian national champion figure skater who competed in the 2006 Winter Olympics.

Kola went 81-49-5-3 at New Albany, leading the Eagles to the junior varsity state tournament in 2015 and Capital Hockey Conference division championships each of the next two seasons.

New Albany was 13-20 overall and 6-10 with 12 points in the CHC-Red this year.

Softball team looks to future

With almost all of her key players eligible to return, softball coach Stephanie Andrick is confident the Eagles can challenge for the OCC-Capital championship and put together a postseason run in 2019.

New Albany went 9-11 overall and 7-3 in the league, losing to visiting and 30th-seeded Logan 11-9 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7. The Eagles were seeded 28th.

Junior pitcher Taylor Rhea led the team in batting average (.464), hits (32) and RBI (30) and tied freshman utility player Sophia Halliday for second in home runs with six, behind junior third baseman Kirsten Tibbitts' eight. Halliday batted .413 with 26 hits and 22 RBI, Tibbitts hit .353 with 24 hits and 20 RBI and sophomore first baseman Halle Galbraith batted .354 with 23 hits.

New Albany averaged 6.5 runs per game.

Andrick lauded not only the team's offensive production but also the defensive play of freshman second baseman Olivia Angles, who had a .986 fielding percentage and committed only one error.

"Halliday jumped into the leadoff spot in the batting lineup and performed well there -- a tough thing to do for a freshman," Andrick said. "She did an outstanding job as a utility player for us this year. ... I have never seen two freshmen who were so ready for varsity-level softball as these two."

New Albany tied Newark for second in the OCC-Capital behind Groveport (9-1) and ahead of Big Walnut (5-5), Canal Winchester (2-8) and Franklin Heights (0-10).

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave