Riley Burch of the New Albany High School boys soccer team stopped short of saying the Eagles' first Division I district championship could be the start of a new era for the program, but not too far.

Riley Burch of the New Albany High School boys soccer team stopped short of saying the Eagles' first Division I district championship could be the start of a new era for the program, but not too far.

"We found a new way to play," Burch said. "We play a lot tougher, especially with this group of seniors that we have. There is such a brotherhood. We have been together for so long to get to this point. To be the team that has made it farther than any other New Albany team in Division I is incredibly special. It shows (coach Johnny Ulry) has helped us make strides in this program, and hopefully we are not going anywhere anytime soon."

Ulry's second season with the Eagles was prolonged by a 3-0 win over sixth-seeded Pickerington North in a district final Oct. 29 at Hartley.

Storm Verheijen scored twice in the first half, once from point-blank range and again on a free kick, and Burch added a goal with 37.3 seconds left before halftime to carry the fifth-seeded Eagles into a regional semifinal against St. Charles on Nov. 2 at Westerville Central.

New Albany improved to 15-2-2 with the district final victory, and continued a solid streak for its defense. Before Nov. 2, the Eagles had allowed one or no goals in nine consecutive games dating to a 1-0 loss at Worthington Kilbourne on Sept. 24.

"(The district final) was our eighth shutout so it's not like we don't have a lot, but we usually give up a goal," Ulry said. "Not doing that is a step forward. I hope it continues to be a trend, but we have to get more offensive-minded. ...

"Getting (to the district final) was an absolute goal. We fell short of it last year (losing to North 1-0 in a district semifinal). It's always a goal to get to this point, and it'll be great for our young guys especially to get to this position. We want to create that tradition within this organization that we always want to get to a district final."

Verheijen, a senior forward and exchange student from The Hague, Netherlands, scored once in a 2-0 win over visiting and eighth-seeded Olentangy Liberty in a district semifinal Oct. 26. Sabian Shede also scored for the Eagles.

"We have played really well with each other," Verheijen said. "With our speed, (counters) really work. Counters and set pieces, we've put a lot of them together really well."

Midfielder Logan Wiest said his unit's ability to win 50-50 balls has helped the defense shut down opponents.

"We definitely won the midfield with balls in the air and made it a lot easier for the defense," Wiest said. "With our outside backs pinching in, it's a lot easier for the center backs to really run freely and get us some attacking chances. We've been working on it all year, especially in the last few weeks -- just being disciplined in the back and not playing around."

The regional semifinal winner will play Dublin Coffman or Dublin Jerome in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 5, at a neutral site to be determined. The regional champion will play Beavercreek, Cincinnati Anderson, Mason or Springboro in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 9, at a neutral site to be determined, and that winner will advance to the state final Nov. 13 at Mapfre Stadium.

Of those teams, New Albany defeated Jerome 3-1 on Oct. 11.

Cross country season ends at regional

Alyssa Painter of the girls cross country team finished 75th (21:43.63 seconds) in the Division I regional meet Oct. 29 at Pickerington North, falling short of qualifying for state.

The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 5, at National Trail Raceway.

Painter was New Albany's only runner at regional.

The program has not been represented at state since 2014, when 2015 graduate Dennis Maloney placed 15th. The girls team was seeking its first state qualifier since 2013, when 2014 graduate Eliza Matt finished 25th.

Girls soccer team loses in semifinal

The girls soccer team hung close into the second half of its Division I district semifinal at Liberty on Oct. 25, but the second-seeded Patriots expanded a 1-0 lead by scoring two goals within two minutes to defeat New Albany 3-0.

Sarah Teas made five saves for the 11th-seeded Eagles, who finished 13-2-4.

Girls volleyball team was 'special group'

Although the girls volleyball team did not win a postseason match, coach Karen Morlan said she will fondly remember a season in which the Eagles won their first league championship since 2004.

The Eagles went 14-9 overall, losing at 13th-seeded Kilbourne 27-25, 25-20, 25-17 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 19.

New Albany, which was seeded 17th, tied Big Walnut for the OCC-Capital Division championship at 9-1, ahead of Canal Winchester (6-4), Newark (4-6), Groveport (2-8) and Franklin Heights (0-10). Morlan cited a 25-20, 21-25, 25-20, 23-25, 16-14 win over Big Walnut on Sept. 8 as a turning point in the season.

"The team played with much determination and pride against Big Walnut at home," Morlan said. "The girls did a great job focusing on one match at a time and preparing themselves physically and mentally for each league match we played throughout the season. ... This was a special group of girls, and the six seniors have left a mark on our program that will last for years to come."

Senior libero Emily Booth and junior outside hitter/right-side hitter Micaylah Nash were named first-team all-league, and Booth also was second-team all-district. Senior middle hitter/right-side hitter Alexis Rudy and junior outside hitter/middle blocker Patty Rolwing were second-team all-league.

Senior defensive setter/defen-sive specialist Amy Booth was special mention all-league, and senior middle blocker/middle hitter Katie Fee was honorable mention all-league. Morlan was OCC-Capital Coach of the Year.

Nash had a team-high 188 kills, ahead of Rolwing (162) and Rudy (110). Fee led the team in blocks with 50, Emily Booth had a team-high 295 digs and Rolwing added 184.

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