Considering that his team played Pickerington North to a 1-all tie a month earlier to the day, New Albany High School girls soccer coach Jared Dombrowski wasn't surprised at how a Division I district final against the Panthers progressed Oct. 27 at Olentangy Orange.
A few "little things," as Dombrowski put it, ultimately helped decide a 2-1 loss that ended the Eagles' season.
After second-seeded North took a 1-0 lead late in the first half, New Albany senior midfielder Lydia Cornelius tied the game on a penalty kick with 34 minutes, 16 seconds to play, only to see North take the lead for good on a penalty kick by Camryn Dees with 11:42 left.
The Eagles, who were seeded eighth of 44 teams and were playing in their first district final since 2015, finished 11-4-4 overall.
"We knew it was going to be a battle. Pick North has a quality and many good players," Dombrowski said. "One thing we talked about with our goals is they've won district titles six out of the past seven years. I was explaining to them: 'Why not us?' It's time for us to make a name for ourselves. This was as good a time as any.
"Little things were the difference. We hit the crossbar once. We had a shot cleared off the line. It could have gone either way."
The penalty kick was set up when senior defender Erin Carson fouled North's Tori Haggit.
"I saw some contact that I thought was 50/50," Dombrowski said. "My view wasn't the best so I can't truly gauge what happened but it was unfortunate. Erin is a good, aggressive player."
Like Dombrowski, Dees said little about the game surprised her.
"We didn't let them answer this time (as opposed to the first matchup)," Dees said. "We think we've focused better and we're playing better overall. We expected a tough game. We expected them to score on us and expected ourselves to score on them. We just hoped to get the win out of it."
Sophomore forward Brooklyn Harris led New Albany with 24 goals. Cornelius added 14.
New Albany was 6-1-1 in an eight-game stretch leading up to the district final, including a 2-1, double-overtime win over visiting and 15th-seeded Westerville Central in a semifinal Oct. 23. Sophomore midfielder Kelis Brown scored both goals.
"There was a lot more focus as a team (as the season progressed)," Dombrowski said. "One of the things we've had an issue with is staying engaged for 80 minutes. We always seem to have a letdown here or there and that's what would kill us. We've focused on sticking together and engaged for the whole time and it showed, especially later in the season."
The Eagles went 5-0 in the OCC-Capital Division to win their second league championship in three years.
finishes with win
Despite missing the Division II, Region 7 playoffs, the football team ended its season on a high note with a 24-10 win at Groveport on Oct. 26.
Michiah Burton rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. Both of Burton's scores, from 16 and 18 yards, came during a 21-point first quarter.
The Eagles' other touchdown came on a 20-yard fumble recovery by Brode White.
New Albany amassed all of their 300 yards of offense on the ground in finishing 7-3 overall and 4-1 in the OCC-Capital, one game behind league champion Canal Winchester (5-0).
The Eagles finished 13th in Region 7 to fall short of the postseason for the first time since 2015. The top eight teams qualified for the playoffs.
Cross country season
ends at regional
The boys and girls cross country teams both finished 15th in their respective Division I regional meets Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, ending their season.
Freshman Sammie Sika placed 37th in 20 minutes, 23.1 seconds, leading the girls team to 373 points and 15th behind champion Hilliard Davidson (38) as 17 teams scored. Sika was followed by freshman Mary Carson (92nd, 21:39), senior Lindsey Neff (100th, 21:52.9), junior Emily Flaherty (105th, 22:00.3) and senior Maya Patel (108th, 22:04.2).
The boys had 346 points to finish behind champion Davidson (95) as 16 teams scored.
Scoring for the Eagles were sophomores Ethan McNichols (50th, 17:15.3) and Victor Orsinelli (61st, 17:20), freshman Will Benseler (77th, 17:32.6), sophomore Colin Swincicki (104th, 17:59.7) and freshman Luke Weibel (115th, 18:38.3).
The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
Both teams expect to return the majority of their runners next year as they seek their second consecutive sweep of the OCC-Capital championships.
Boys soccer season
ends in semifinal
The boys soccer team largely dominated a Division I district semifinal Oct. 24, but the second-seeded Eagles saw their previously undefeated season come to an end with a 2-1 (4-3 shootout) loss to visiting and 11th-seeded Dublin Jerome.
Senior forward Noah Boffo scored off an assist from senior forward Drew Fischer with 11:49 to go in the second half. The Eagles peppered Jerome goalkeeper Nitin Sanga with 13 shots but came up short in finishing 17-1 overall.
"At the end of the day, we dominated the game. It seemed like we had a thousand shots but (Sanga) was insanely good," coach Johnny Ulry said. "He threw his body everywhere and he made great saves. The game should have been 3-0 or 4-0. We hit the post a few times. Their keeper was the only difference and we have to give credit to (Sanga). We didn't finish. That's how the tournament works sometimes."
New Albany goalie Parker Phillips made five saves.
The Eagles outscored opponents 73-7, went 5-0 in the OCC-Capital to win their third consecutive league championship and were ranked fourth in the final state poll.
Boffo led the Eagles with 20 goals.
Fischer is a Colgate commit.
Other expected returnees include juniors Luke Baily (defender), Joey Schroer (goalie) and Thomas Shneker (forward).
"Right now, this will hurt. It's going to sit in the pit of their stomachs for a while, but I think as time goes by, they will reflect on this and remember we were undefeated," Ulry said. "At the end of the day, nobody this year beat us in regulation. When we look back on winning our division, going undefeated and being ranked in the state, I think and hope these young men will look back and be very proud. To do this in this district is something to take a lot of pride in."
Field hockey team
falls in district semi
Despite losing 5-1 at three-time defending state champion Thomas Worthington in a district semifinal Oct. 23, the field hockey team still doubled its win total from a year ago and finished with double-digit victories for the third time in four seasons.
New Albany went 10-6-1 overall and 5-3 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East to finish fourth behind champion Columbus Academy (8-0). The Eagles went 5-11-1 in 2017 and won 11 games in both 2015 and 2016.
Junior forward Halle Galbraith scored against second-seeded Thomas and sophomore goalie Bella Thompson made 25 saves.
"We had a game plan going into every game that does change a little bit with every team we play. We worked very hard in practice and stayed focused," coach Marissa Weldon said. "Thomas (was) very good; they are three-time state champions so we went in with nothing to lose. You prepare just like any other game, but we embraced (the underdog) role."
Junior Brooke Mason led New Albany, which was seeded eighth in the 18-team district tournament, with 15 goals. Senior forward Lauren Sokol had nine, sophomore forward Olivia Angles scored six and Galbraith added five.
The Eagles put together a six-game winning streak from Sept. 13-Oct. 1, tied for the most consecutive wins in the program's seven varsity seasons.