New Albany High School girls lacrosse coach Dave Ferguson didn't know how competitive his team would be this season considering the Eagles lost eight starters to graduation and were to play a more difficult schedule.

New Albany High School girls lacrosse coach Dave Ferguson didn't know how competitive his team would be this season considering the Eagles lost eight starters to graduation and were to play a more difficult schedule.

Therefore, Ferguson said he couldn't be more thrilled after his squad won its first eight games and started 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Thomas Worthington on April 26.

"We're playing the most difficult schedule we've ever played after we lost eight senior starters, so a lot of people didn't think we were going to be a very good team this year," Ferguson said. "But our girls have stepped up to the challenge and are playing great against great competition."

The Eagles rallied from a 9-5 halftime deficit to beat Upper Arlington 12-11 in overtime on April 19 for a key league victory.

Emily Newman scored four goals, including the winner in overtime, Elenia Enich scored three goals and Hannah Sommerlot had 11 saves.

The Golden Bears won the OCC-Central at 7-0 last year and reached the Division I state final, where they lost to Medina 15-9.

New Albany, which won Division II state titles in 2007, 2008 and 2009, lost to Medina 11-10 in a Division I state semifinal a year ago. The Eagles won four consecutive OCC-Ohio titles before moving into the OCC-Central this season.

"That was a very big victory for us because Upper Arlington's always one of the most competitive teams in the state," Ferguson said.

Four days later, New Albany defeated Cincinnati Sycamore 13-12 as Enich scored six goals, including the winner with less than a minute to play. Newman scored five goals, Sommerlot had 12 saves and Sam Arey had seven saves.

Midfielder Morgan Fee, an Ohio State recruit, didn't play against Sycamore after suffering a concussion during an 11-5 win over Worthington Kilbourne two days earlier. Arey had to replace Sommerlot in goal after Sommerlot suffered a concussion against Sycamore.

"This is the first time we've beat Upper Arlington and Cincinnati Sycamore in the same season," Ferguson said. "Emily Newman has had an All-American-type season, and so has Sam Arey."

It is unclear when Fee and Sommerlot will return to New Albany's lineup.

New Albany will play host to Columbus Academy on Thursday, April 28. The Eagles then will play Friday, April 29, at Medina against Toledo St. Ursula before playing on Saturday, April 30, at Shaker Heights Laurel against Chagrin Falls and Mount Lebanon (Pa.).

New Albany plays host to Dublin Coffman in its OCC-Central finale on Tuesday, May 3.

"This is going to be a mara-thon week for us against some very competitive teams," Ferguson said. "It's been a grueling schedule, but it will prepare us for the postseason tournaments. We may need to move Sam Arey back into goal this week, and that could have a big effect on how we play in the field. We may need a couple more girls to step up their games this week if we don't have Morgan and Sam in there."

•After losing two key players to season-ending injuries, the boys team struggled with consistency on both offense and defense while winning only four of its first nine games.

Senior Grant Pendrey, who had 96 points last season and was the Eagles' leading scorer each of the past two years, is out with a concussion that he suffered before the season started.

Sophomore Sean Conley, who was emerging as a leader on defense, will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury.

"You can't replace a guy like Grant on offense and Sean was stepping up as a leader of our young defense when he got hurt," coach Sean McGinnis said. "We've been plugging some new young guys into our lineup and we've had our ups and downs while they've learned to play together. We have the talent and athleticism to do well. We're just searching for synergy on offense and defense."

Junior goalie Connor Hinson averaged 14 saves through nine games to lead New Albany's defense and senior midfielder Collin Laviola has been the Eagles' most dynamic offensive player.

"Connor Hinson is doing an incredible job of keeping us in games by making big saves," McGinnis said.

McGinnis is looking forward to playing Granville in the inaugural Battle for 161: Sticking it to Breast Cancer game at 7:30 p.m. May 6 at Granville.

Proceeds from the game, a raffle, T-shirt sales and pink shoelace sales will benefit the Stefanie Spielman Fund for Breast Cancer Research at the James Cancer Hospital.

"Granville is a big rival of ours and this game will raise money for a great cause," McGinnis said. "The winner will get a nice trophy and I think we've got a shot at getting a great seed for the state tournament if we can beat Granville."