Pickerington High School North girls soccer assistant coach Doug Peterson stood near midfield at Crew Stadium after the 3-0 loss to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit on Nov. 13 in the Division I state final.

Pickerington High School North girls soccer assistant coach Doug Peterson stood near midfield at Crew Stadium after the 3-0 loss to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit on Nov. 13 in the Division I state final.

It was the first state championship appearance for the Panthers, but that was hardly a consolation. As the North assistant coach spoke with several seniors, he tried to put things in perspective.

"You laid the groundwork for all of the teams to come, just like the older girls had done for you," Peterson said. "It's something you should all be proud of."

The Panthers won their sixth district championship in eight seasons as well as their first regional title in three seasons. They also set a program record for wins in a season and finished 20-3 overall with 15 shutouts.

North also won its eighth consecutive league title at 7-0 in the OCC-Ohio Division, ahead of Gahanna at 6-1, Pickerington Central at 5-2, Grove City at 4-3, Lancaster at 3-4, Newark at 2-5, Groveport at 1-6 and Reynoldsburg at 0-7.

"This group of seniors was the first that I have had for four years and they have meant a lot to me and the program," fourth-year coach Greg Van Kannel said. "They helped us get to one (state) final, two final fours and to win three district championships.

"They are not only a really talented and athletic group, but they are classy, hard-working and talented kids."

Leading that senior class were forward Kimi Bentley (honorable mention all-league), forward Zena Kolliesuah (second-team all-district and second-team all-league), defender Shelby Lozan (first-team all-league, OCC scholar-athlete), midfielder Shelby Olszewski (second-team all-state) and forward Crisa Thatcher. Kolliesuah, who will run track in college, had 13 goals with five assists and Olszewski, who signed to play basketball at Austin Peay in Clarksville, Tenn., added 10 goals with nine assists. Thatcher had six goals and Bentley added 10 assists.

The leading scorer expected back is sophomore Ashlynn Jones, who scored 13 goals and five assists. She was second-team all-league. Junior forward Becca Glenn was first-team all-league and scored seven goals, and sophomore defender Christy Macioce added nine goals and was second-team all-league. Sophomore goalkeeper Heather Laeufer was special mention all-league.

Other juniors expected to return are midfielder Abby Castle, midfielder Emily Esterle and defender Ashley Lukacsko. The sophomores expected back are midfielder Alex Cheripko, midfielder Layne Collier, defender Lauren Neilon, defender Rylie Shaw, midfielder Rachel Weig-man and forward Danielle Wenger. Freshman Cristina Williams started at midfielder and classmate Morgan Bittengle had more than 20 goals playing both varsity and j.v.

"Hopefully the younger girls learned from the seniors that this program has a lot of tradition and it takes a lot of hard work and teamwork to keep that tradition going," Van Kannel said. "We may not always be the most talented team on the field, but if we fight together good things will come."