Every time the Bexley High School field hockey team worked on penalty strokes in practice, coach Kara Hardesty made sure there was something at stake.

Every time the Bexley High School field hockey team worked on penalty strokes in practice, coach Kara Hardesty made sure there was something at stake.

Usually if a player misses her penalty shot, the team has to run sprints. On Oct. 20, if senior midfielder/defender Maggie Janco missed her shot, there was a good possibility the Lions would be done for the year.

But Janco converted her shot and then goalkeeper Jade Underwood stopped a shot by Hartley's Abby Evans to help fourth-seeded Bexley defeat the eighth-seeded Hawks 3-2 in penalty strokes in a first-round district tournament game.

"Doing those drills in practice helped a lot because you have the whole team depending on you," said Janco, whose team improved to 10-6-1 and advanced to play Toledo Maumee Valley Country Day in a district semifinal on Oct. 26. "If you don't get it in, you let your whole team down. Practicing strokes by yourself doesn't do much because you don't have all the pressure on you."

The district semifinal winner will play second-seeded Columbus Academy or Dublin Coffman in a district final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29, at Dublin Scioto.

The district champion will advance to a state semifinal on Nov. 4 at Upper Arlington.

The Lions lost to Academy 3-0 on Sept. 27 and lost to Coffman 4-3 in overtime on Oct. 5.

After the game against Hartley went scoreless through regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, it went to penalty strokes.

That was a first during coach Kara Hardesty's nine-year tenure.

"I've never had a game come down to strokes before, let alone sudden-victory strokes," Hardesty said. "I was looking through my rulebook to make sure I knew how to do them."

"I definitely wanted us to score," Underwood said. "I never want it to come down to penalty strokes. There is so much pressure."

In the first round of five shooters, junior forward/midfielder Ellie Williams and senior forward/defender Annie Adams both scored for the Lions.

Hartley's Mary Prunte and Abigail Selid scored to send the game into sudden-victory penalty strokes.

Underwood stopped three penalty strokes in the second round. She made a kick save on Prunte's shot and stuck out her leg to turn away Catie Gregory's shot. Then, after Janco scored, she stopped Abby Evans' shot to end the game.

"In penalty strokes, it all comes down to you," Underwood said. "You decide whether you win or lose the game. This is my senior year and I didn't want to go home tonight."

•Both the boys and girls cross country teams advanced to the Division II regional meet on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Pickerington North.

The boys team finished second with 89 points in the 11-team district 1 meet Oct. 22 at Watkins Memorial behind Granville (21). Sam Beech finished 10th in 17 minutes, 54.77 seconds and was followed by Cole Keny (14th, 18:00.96), Ian Kellogg (18th, 18:29.66), Aaron Pelz (23rd, 18:55.32) and Alex Meyer (24th, 19:01.15). Granville's Ryan Black finished first in 17:04.85.

The girls team also was a district runner-up with 111 points behind Granville (61). The Lions didn't have any runners finish in the top 10. Regan Detwiler led Bexley, finishing 13th in 20:56.31. Also scoring were Abby Arace (17th, 21:08.15), Katie Wittig (18th, 21:22.61), Lindsey Mathews (29th, 21:57.96) and Sara Niermeyer (38th, 22:17.72).

Johnstown's Stephanie Loshbough was first (18:55.14).

The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional. The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional advance to the state meet Nov. 5 at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

•The girls volleyball team finished 11-12 overall after losing to seventh-seeded Amanda Clearcreek 25-19, 25-16, 25-27, 25-11 in the first round of the Division II district tournament on Oct. 22.

The Lions finished sixth in the MSL-Ohio Division at 6-8, behind Granville (12-2), Licking Valley (12-2), Newark Catholic (10-4), Lakewood (8-6) and Heath (7-7) and ahead of Whitehall (2-12) and Academy (0-14).

•Becca Landon and Lindsey Staub of the girls tennis team got an extended stay during their first trip to the Division II state tournament.

The doubles team spent nearly 11 hours at Elysium Tennis Center on Oct. 21, defeating Clyde's Amanda Cahill and Alexis Weber 6-4, 6-0 in the first round and losing to Pepper Pike Orange's Amy Smedira and Adrian Young 6-4, 6-0 in a quarterfinal.

"I was just happy about making it to states and getting to the quarterfinals made this trip even better," Landon said. "You get kind of tired and bored just standing there all day waiting to play, but I think we handled it pretty well. We had fun."

"Making it to the state tournament really showed me the hard work in practice can pay off," Staub said. "My goal at the beginning of the season was to make states. I was really proud that we were able to achieve that goal."

Landon and Staub got off to a slow start in the first-round match before closing out the first set, but they cruised through the second set.

"With us being at state for the first time, Becca and I were more nervous than we should have been," Staub said. "In the second set, we got our act together and we were really consistent and helped each other."

In the quarterfinal match, Landon and Staub again started slowly but couldn't overtake Smedira and Young.

"They tended to pick on our weaknesses a lot and they just got inside our head," Landon said. "If we both came to the net, they would just lob it over us or hit down the line. If we could've won some key points in the first set, we could have won that first set. Winning that first set would have made a big difference."

Landon and Staub's journey marked the fifth consecutive season in which Bexley has had a state qualifier. Landon finished 20-4 overall and Staub was 22-3.

The Lions finished second in the MSL-Cardinal/Ohio at 4-1 with 24 points, behind Academy (28) and ahead of Grandview (16), Granville (12), Fisher Catholic (8) and Whitehall (0). The league tournament was canceled because of bad weather.

The Lions will lose three seniors in Staub, Anna Fechtor and Caitlin O'Hern but expect to return juniors Landon, Sierra Humphrey, Carly Levy, Abby Robins and Hien Ta and sophomore Hallie Wirthman.

"We had a lot of underclassmen this year," coach Shelby Cheses said. "We're hoping the ones that return play throughout the school year and the summer and come back stronger and ready to play."

•The football team dropped to 5-4 overall and 2-4 in the MSL-Ohio with a 23-16 overtime loss to Licking Valley on Oct. 21.

The Lions conclude the regular season Friday, Oct. 28, at Whitehall, which improved to 5-4 and 3-3 with a 27-20 win over Academy on Oct. 21.