Adversity in Division I district finals is nothing new for the Pickerington High School North girls soccer team, nor is finding a way past it.

Adversity in Division I district finals is nothing new for the Pickerington High School North girls soccer team, nor is finding a way past it.

The third-seeded Panthers trailed seventh-seeded Hilliard Darby less than a minute into their district final Oct. 29 at Hartley, but two goals off set pieces helped North rally to a 3-1 win and the program's 10th district title in its 14 seasons.

In a district final last year, North led Darby 2-0 only to allow two unanswered goals but win 3-2 on Cameron Shedenhelm's goal off a header with less than a minute to go.

Three years ago, the Panthers needed two overtimes to edge perennial power Dublin Jerome 2-1 in a district final.

"We settled down (Oct. 29) and we were ready to play after that (early Darby goal). We were not great offensively, but we were good enough to win," coach Greg Van Kannel said. "It's great for (the players) to carry on this tradition. This kind of success is expected for them. There is pressure on these girls. Sometimes they handle it well (and) sometimes they don't. This group is playing very well."

North was 16-2-1 before playing Jerome in a regional semifinal Nov. 1.

After Darby's Gabby Iosue scored, North tied the game halfway through the first half when Camryn Dees bumped in a header off a corner kick from Aleece Lukacsko. Dees assisted Makenzie Kelly on the game-winning goal off another corner kick with 5 minutes, 20 seconds left in the first half.

"We put everyone in the box and (Dees) put it right in to me and I put it in," Kelly said. "(Iosue's) goal woke us up."

Avery Hart added a goal with 30 minutes left in the game.

"Set pieces were the difference in the game, honestly," Darby coach Dan Brady said. "When you do that well with set pieces, that is a big advantage."

Van Kannel also lauded his team's defense, specifically the efforts of junior varsity call-up Kylie Jacobs, among others, against Darby forward Blair Cowan, a first-team all-district selection and Ohio State commit.

"(Jacobs) is quick, she does what we ask her to do," Van Kannel said. "She has played a little varsity, but she is a good player for that role."

The North-Jerome winner plays Gahanna or Olentangy Liberty in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 5, at a neutral site to be determined. The regional champion will play Beavercreek, Cincinnati St. Ursula, Loveland or Springboro in a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 8, at a neutral site to be determined, with that winner advancing to the state final Nov. 12 at Mapfre Stadium.

North defeated Beavercreek 2-1 on Sept. 10.

Two boys runners heading to state

Matt Duvall of the boys cross country team won a state championship the last time he ran at National Trail Raceway, but the freshman admits the Division I state meet Saturday, Nov. 5, will be of a different ilk.

"I got first at the junior high state meet last year, but (I have) no real actual state meet experience. I am excited about it," Duvall said.

In the regional meet Oct. 29 at North, Ashwin Briggs placed ninth (16:18.41) of 117 runners and Duvall was 20th (16:33.34) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state. North finished eighth (209) of 15 teams, behind champion Thomas Worthington (71).

"I looked up a bunch of times from other races and 16:20 seemed like about the average time to get in," Duvall said. "(About 20th place) is what I wanted."

Also scoring for the Panthers were Logan Boone (27th, 16:53.75), Keaton McNair (83rd, 17:54.83) and Nate Rini (104th, 18:34.34). Kevin Mason was 106th (18:36.46) and Jake Prestileo was 109th (18:41.06).

Briggs also will be competing in his first state meet.

"The whole race started so fast because we (might) have the top three guys in the state right here in this region," Briggs said. "I was probably around 20th or so in the first mile, then I just managed to keep moving up. This is exactly how I figured it would go. I expected the top guys to be out there, and then where I was to be really tight. You just have to keep picking off people and move up."

While Briggs has not run on the state level, he has observed National Trail's course as a spectator.

"I am not too psyched about the course. I have never been much of a fan," Briggs said. "I haven't run the course myself much to see how that is. I know it is not the fastest course, but I am still looking forward to running it."

Boys soccer team falls short of title

The boys soccer team finished as a Division I district runner-up for the fifth time in program history without winning a title, losing 3-0 to New Albany in a district final Oct. 29 at Hartley.

The sixth-seeded Panthers, who finished 15-3-1 overall, had a few scoring chances early but not many the rest of the game against the fifth-seeded Eagles.

"It is not indicative of us not to be able to put the ball in the back of the net," coach Darrin Monhollen said. "We changed our formation in the second half to be sturdier through the middle because they were doing a good job there and are a strong, physical team. We wanted to clog the middle, but we just did not finish our opportunities."

North also lost in district finals in 2015, 2012, 2010 and 2007.

The Panthers went 4-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division to win the league title, ahead of Grove City and Pickerington Central (both 3-1-1), Gahanna (3-2), Reynoldsburg (1-4) and Lancaster (0-5).

North opened the district tournament with an 8-0 shutout of 45th-seeded Zanesville in a second-round home game Oct. 22, and edged 25th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 2-1 in overtime in a semifinal Oct. 26 at home.

Freshman forward Reece Allbaugh scored the winning goal against Bradley, giving Monhollen his 300th career victory. Monhollen coached the original Pickerington High School from 1992-2002 before coming to North when the school district split in 2003.

Senior forward River Allbaugh scored a team-high 14 goals and finished his career with a program-record 39. He was named OCC-Ohio Player of the Year and first-team all-district.

Reece Allbaugh and senior midfielders Jared Monhollen and Jordan Rix also earned first-team all-league honors. Second-team honorees were seniors Brandon Ebright (midfielder) and Evan Subedi (defender) and sophomores Will Harr (midfielder) and Brennan Nincehelser (defender).

Junior goalkeeper Cole Patton was special mention all-league and junior midfielder Scott Harrington was named honorable mention all-league.

Reece Allbaugh and Monhollen were third-team all-district.

"We have a lot of strong players back for next season," Monhollen said. "We will make sure we don't have a rebuilding year next year."

Volleyball team loses in semifinal

The girls volleyball team hung with Watterson through two games in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 25 at Franklin Heights, but fell behind in the third and lost to the 14th-seeded Eagles 25-19, 25-20, 25-11. Julia Vermilion had 12 kills and 11 digs and Ilana Sark added eight digs for the 10th-seeded Panthers, who finished 17-7.

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