After settling for being a district runner-up each of the past three seasons, the Olentangy Liberty High School field hockey team is on its way to the state tournament for the first time.

After settling for being a district runner-up each of the past three seasons, the Olentangy Liberty High School field hockey team is on its way to the state tournament for the first time.

The third-seeded Patriots defeated second-seeded Watterson 2-1 in a district final Oct. 29 at home. They improved to 15-3-1 and advanced to play 2014 state champion Shaker Heights in a state semifinal Nov. 4 at Upper Arlington.

Liberty, which became the ninth Central District program to reach the state tournament, beat Shaker Heights 3-2 in overtime Oct. 8.

"It's hard to sum it up," Patriots coach Marianne Flannery said. "This is a team that's endured a lot to get here."

The Patriots took a 1-0 lead with 19 minutes left in the first half on a goal by Mara Hunter that was assisted by Addie Druckenbroad.

Watterson's Avery Dixon tied the score at 1 with 11:13 to go before halftime, and the game remained tied until Liberty's Katie Pione scored off a pass from Cassidy Kershner with six minutes left.

Patriots goalkeeper Katie Flanagan had 20 saves against the Eagles, who finished 15-2-1.

"Their keeper was the difference in the game," Watterson coach Janet Baird said.

Thomas 3, Academy 1

Reigning state champion Thomas Worthington earned a return trip to the state tournament with a win over top-seeded Columbus Academy in a district final Oct. 29 at Liberty.

Maya McDaniel scored two goals and Rachel Rinaldi scored the other for the fourth-seeded Cardinals, who improved to 16-3 and advanced to play Cincinnati Ursuline Academy in a state semifinalNov. 4at Upper Arlington.

Cardinals goalieIsabelle Perese had 11 saves, including a stop against Bailee Mueller on a penalty stroke with 1:19 remaining.

Alaina Gwin scored for Academy, which finished 17-1-1.

-Frank DiRenna