Over the past three years, the Upper Arlington High School boys and girls lacrosse teams are a combined 109-18 with three state championships and three state runner-up finishes.

Over the past three years, the Upper Arlington High School boys and girls lacrosse teams are a combined 109-18 with three state championships and three state runner-up finishes.

That rate of success, according to senior John Hardesty, helps players reach the next level. Hardesty, who signed a letter of intent to play for Ohio State, was one of seven lacrosse players to commit to a college Nov. 18.

The boys team, 18-3 after losing to Worthington Kilbourne 7-6 in the Division I state final last season, had Hardesty, Joseph Benedick (University of Pennsylvania), Kyle Cassady (United States Air Force Academy) and Dan Kloos (Bryant University) sign. The girls team finished 16-5 after losing to Cincinnati Sycamore 7-6 in a state final last year. Megan Knoop (University of Cincinnati), Rebecca Niles (Virginia Tech) and Lauren Hanover (United States Naval Academy) all signed letters of intent.

"Coach (Ted) Wolford really does things the right way," said Hardesty, a defender who was honorable mention all-MSLCA. "Every guy I've talked to who has played college lacrosse talks about how well prepared they were to go on to play at the (next) level."

"All the college players said the game is a little bit faster and more physical and more intense but you learn to enjoy it," added Knoop, a midfielder who was second-team all-OCC last year. "Our coaches prepared us for that. (The work they put us through) really takes us to the next level."

Knoop and Hardesty were the only two players to stay in state. Having grown up in Columbus, Hardesty couldn't resist the opportunity to play for the Buckeyes. Under first-year coach Nick Myers, Ohio State finished 8-8.

"I love the way coach Myers is doing things," Hardesty said. "The way he is running things is awesome."

Knoop almost overlooked Cincinnati in her search. The Bearcats defeated Le Moyne 12-10 and Detroit 15-6 to finish 7-10. Knoop was impressed with the 18,000 square foot Richard E. Lindner Athletics Center.

"I didn't really know about it going into it, but I was extremely impressed," Knoop said. "Cincinnati had this old-time Williamsburg feel with all these brick buildings mixed in with the contemporary architecture. We walked into their athletic facilities and were just blown away."

Two of the Bears have appointments to service academies. Hanover will join the Midshipmen women's program, which is starting its third year. Navy went 13-4 in its inaugural season and 13-5 last year. Coach Cindy Timchal has the most wins of any lacrosse coach (men's or women's) with a career mark of 362-95 with stints at Northwestern and Maryland. She has coached eight teams to national championships.

"My brother Eric (a 2008 UA graduate who went on to play for Messiah College) went to the Naval Academy for a visit when he was looking for colleges, but he decided it wasn't for him," said Hanover, a midfielder who had 12 goals and six assists last season. "I fell in love with the place."

Cassady, a midfielder, received a nomination from Sen. George Voinovich to attend the academy. Eric Seremet, who served as an interim coach after the retirement of Fred Acee, and guided Air Force to a 7-7 record, was recently named head coach.

"The Air Force will be tough, but it'll prepare you for future," Cassady said. "Playing lacrosse, I think I'll be prepared physically for the (Air Force) training and playing (collegiate lacrosse)."

The Ivy League prohibits athletic scholarships, but Benedick, a defender, believes he's found the best of both worlds. The Quakers, 5-8 overall last year, play in one of the toughest divisions for men's lacrosse. Since 2000, an Ivy League team has reached the Division I championship four times, including Cornell which lost to Syracuse 10-9 last year.

"I was looking for a great education and Ivy League schools are all about that," Benedick said. "Ivy League schools are like the cream of the crop in lacrosse. So, the combination of great athletics and great education made it an easy decision."

Kloos, a goalie, will help Bryant adjust to the Division I level. The Bulldogs went 10-5 in their first year as a Division I program. Coach Mike Pressler, who came to the school after being ousted as the Duke men's lacrosse coach, compiled a 35-13 record in three seasons. Niles hopes to help build up the Hokies program, which was 7-10 last year.

"Lacrosse is definitely a community sport in UA," Benedick said. "Through the grade schools and middle school programs, we've all had great coaches. They help you succeed. There's really no way you can't succeed if you try hard."