During last year's district tournament, the Hartley High School field hockey team nearly upset third-seeded Granville despite being the 14th seed but ended up on the short end of a 1-0 decision.
The Hawks' improved play late last season has carried over to this fall, according to second-year coach Bridget Ebenhack.
Hartley opened with losses to Dublin Jerome (2-1 on Aug. 18) and Watterson (3-0 on Aug. 22) but beat Lancaster 1-0 on Aug. 23 and Olentangy Berlin 1-0 on Aug. 27 before losing 1-0 to Columbus School for Girls on Aug. 30.
"We have a lot more experience in how we're going to operate and move down the field with a year's worth of growth," Ebenhack said. "We're much further along at this point now than we were even close to being last year. From where we ended last year to where we're beginning, we're significantly improved."
Hartley earned its only wins last year over Lancaster and Dublin Coffman by 5-0 scores and finished eighth in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division at 1-6-1, behind champion Granville (8-0).
Senior Sienna Caridi, who sees time at several positions including defender, and senior goalkeeper Azaria Greene-Williams have helped lead the way on defense.
The other seniors are Jordan Akpofure (forward/midfielder), Ingrid Gillies (forward/midfielder), Tommie Lipp (defender/midfielder), McKenna Maloney (midfielder/forward), Sarah Oboy (defender), Meg Samuel (forward) and Judy Zang (defender).
Juniors Audrey Ryan (forward) and Sam Hanson (forward) also were key players last season.
Gillies, Lipp and Ryan each had one goal through four games.
Also on the team are juniors Amelia Chen (midfielder/forward), Kylie Clark (midfielder/forward), Tori Garey (defender), Bella Hoffman (forward), Mia Innes (midfielder/forward), Gabby Jackson (defender) and Emma Ramsey (goalie) and sophomore Caitlin Abel (midfielder/forward).
Greene-Williams and Ryan were honorable mention all-league last season.
"Sam Hanson has really picked up her game and I expect her to do a lot of offense," Ebenhack said. "We just have really strong leadership from the senior group. Our goalie, Azaria, is outstanding. I think we're just one to two plays away from winning a lot of games."
Cross country teams thinking long-term
By last year's postseason, the boys and girls cross country teams both were in position to contend for regional-qualifying spots.
Fifth-year coach Reggie Osborne is hoping both squads will be in the same position this fall, with the girls also looking to battle for the CCL title.
"We just want to be in the conversation," Osborne said. "I'm excited about the season. The girls were CCL runners-up last year and we're looking forward to competing and hopefully having a good season."
The girls team finished 11th (266) in the 19-team Newark Catholic Invitational on Aug. 25 at Bryn Du Mansion behind champion Fairfield Union (53) as sophomore Ellie Kitsmiller led with a 13th-place finish (21 minutes, 27.4 seconds) and senior Bailee Zacovic was 49th (23:22.9).
Seniors Emma Kitsmiller, Hannah Kitsmiller and Cara Luallen, junior Kate Sheely and sophomores Pailyn Groene and Anna Woods also are among the top runners for the Hawks.
Freshman Jarah Orndorff is another who could contribute.
Ellie Kitsmiller finished 52nd (20:57.5) at the Division II regional meet last season while competing as an individual after Hartley placed seventh at district, where the top five teams advanced.
"Bailee and Ellie are going to anchor our team," Osborne said.
The boys squad was 10th (290) of 21 teams in the Newark Catholic Invitational behind champion Heath (53) as junior Chase Orndorff led the Hawks with a 51st-place finish (18:49.4).
Seniors Patrick Scurlock and Christopher Wolf, junior Adam Dinovo, sophomores Luke Brandewie, Eayual Gerbtsadik and Luke Vautour and freshman Austin Bungard are other key runners for the Hawks.
Hartley was eighth in the district 2 meet last season as the top four advanced to regional.
"In our league, it's tough with our friends at St. Charles that have won it for many, many years," Osborne said. "My guys are running pretty well early in the season together. I'd like to see them make some effort to make it out of the district this year."
Football team to face Ready
Although neither had the start it was hoping for, the Hartley and Ready football teams remain optimistic.
The Hawks and Silver Knights will meet for the 55th consecutive season Friday, Sept. 7, but it likely will be their last matchup for at least a few years.
Ready will play the other four schools in the CCL on a two-year rotational basis beginning next season when it faces St. Charles.
"(Ready) coach (Brian) Cross is as good of a football coach as we have ever prepared against," coach Brad Burchfield said. "In 2013, we were state runners-up (in Division V) and they were state semifinalists (in Division VI). We beat them in overtime (21-14) and I have to think that was one of the best games in the rivalry.
"Through the years, there were many similarities between the schools, but times change and schools change. Although I'm disappointed to see such a historic rivalry end, I respect the decisions of all involved."
Ready beat Hartley 52-6 in 2008 in Burchfield's first season leading the Hawks, but the Knights have lost the last nine meetings. Last season, Hartley beat Ready 42-10 on its way to an 11-2 record and Division III regional runner-up finish while the Knights went 7-4 and were Division V playoff qualifiers.
Ready opened with a 28-0 loss to Genoa Area on Aug. 24 at Fortress Obetz and played West Jefferson on Aug. 31.
Hartley began its season with a 42-17 loss Aug. 24 at Toledo Central Catholic before playing defending Division V state champion Wheelersburg on Aug. 31.
Cross hopes the Knights develop rivalries with some of the MSL-Ohio Division programs they will be facing later this fall as well as with West Jefferson, a Division V program.
"It's always good to play a quality program like (Hartley's), but the games haven't really been close," Cross said. "In the second half of games they wear us down and they have put points on the board. They're going to be good again this year."
In the opener, Genoa limited the Knights to about 180 yards of offense as Jack Foley, Donovan Sanders and Jaishan Norris led the rushing attack.
Defensively, Thomas Stiltner had more than a dozen tackles, according to Cross.
"When we saw (Genoa) on film we really couldn't tell how physical they were or what type of speed they had or how athletic they were," Cross said. "When we played them they were definitely a little faster and their skill kids were better than we anticipated."
Burchfield also saw positives in his team's opening loss, including what he called "correctable" mistakes.
Miles Fleming split time at quarterback last season but has assumed the role full time this fall. He passed for 111 yards to complement a rushing attack that produced 125 yards in the opener.
"It's going to take time and repetition, but we will get there," Burchfield said.
"The coming weeks will tell much more, but we need to play a cleaner game all the way around, take care of the ball, get off the blocks, tackling, everything."
Aug. 18 -- OHSAA Preseason Invitational at National Trail Raceway
Aug. 25 -- Newark Catholic Invitational at Bryn Du Mansion
Sept. 1 -- Westerville North Classic
Sept. 13 -- Mike Dudgeon Invitational at Sportsman Club
Sept. 15 -- Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park
Sept. 22 -- Bob Reall Invitational at Lancaster
Sept. 25 -- Denny Stevens Invitational at Fredericktown
Sept. 29 -- Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Oct. 3 -- at Bexley
Oct. 13 -- CCL meet at Otterbein
Aug. 18 -- at Dublin Jerome
*Aug. 20 -- vs. Watterson
*Aug. 23 -- at Lancaster
Aug. 27 -- at Olentangy Berlin
*Aug. 30 -- at Columbus School for Girls
*Sept. 5 -- vs. Worthington Kilbourne
*Sept. 11 -- at Columbus Academy
Sept. 12 -- vs. Olentangy Orange
Sept. 19 -- vs. Dublin Scioto
Sept. 22 -- at Gates Mills Hawken
*Sept. 25 -- at Granville
Sept. 26 -- vs. Olentangy
*Oct. 1 -- at New Albany
Oct. 8 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
*Oct. 10 -- vs. Bexley
Below are the coming schedules for the Hartley boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 8 -- Worthington Christian Invitational at Turnberry
Sept. 8 -- Eagle-Panther Invitational at Cooks Creek
Sept. 11 -- Bexley at Jefferson
Sept. 12 -- Licking Heights at Jefferson
Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Bexley
*Sept. 11 -- At Ready
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. Watterson
Sept. 11 -- Home vs. Central Crossing
Sept. 6 -- At Whetstone
Sept. 8 -- Thomas Worthington Invitational
Sept. 10 -- Home vs. Delaware
*Sept. 6 -- Home vs. DeSales
Sept. 8 -- At Olentangy Orange
*Sept. 11 -- At Columbus School for Girls