Upper Arlington High School girls lacrosse coach Wendy Pinta described Anna Piscopo's role on the team last year as that of a "driver," because she would sweep toward the goal and drive directly to the net to take a shot.
Although Piscopo's role has changed for her senior year, the midfielder still helps drive the Golden Bears -- just in other ways.
Taking advantage of Piscopo's speed and agility, Pinta has shifted her into the middle, where she can set and come off picks and move in smaller spaces between multiple defenders. The result was that Piscopo had 27 goals, nine assists and a team-high 51 draw controls through 15 games as well as, perhaps most importantly, 13 forced turnovers to tie Olivia Schildmeyer for the team lead.
UA finished the regular season at 14-2 overall after an 8-7 win at Cincinnati Sycamore on May 5, and capped off a perfect 6-0 season in the OCC-Central Division with a 14-1 win at Dublin Coffman on May 2.
Piscopo is a three-year starter in the midfield after seeing some time as a defender her freshman season. The Bears are seeking their third consecutive Division I state championship and eighth overall.
"I think this is where I was meant to be," Piscopo said. "(The midfield) is where I have found my strengths."
A cutting drill helped facilitate the move after Piscopo had a breakout junior season with 28 goals, 14 assists, 55 draw controls and 15 forced turnovers -- the latter two both ranking second on the team.
"She is extremely fast and very aggressive," Pinta said. "She is the first up to the ball, and even if she is not, she is going to catch up and get a competitive edge just with her speed and quickness. She sees the field well and reads plays well."
Piscopo had 17 goals and five assists as a sophomore and two goals as a freshman.
"I didn't get much playing time as a freshman, but that definitely set me up for everything that's happened since then," she said. "In the transition, I am always busting it to get down the field and help my team. I try to always be there for an outlet pass if one of my teammates gets caught in a bad situation, and I try to always be there to crash on defense."
Piscopo's success is not limited to lacrosse. In soccer, she was a first-team all-league midfielder as a senior and helped UA win a district championship as a junior.
Video of her line-drive 40-yard goal against Westerville Central on Aug. 30 was featured on USA Today's website.
Piscopo does not plan to play either sport in college, instead following the footsteps of older sisters Emmie and Rachel and attending Miami University. Anna Piscopo plans to major in marketing.
Emmie Piscopo, a 2012 UA graduate, was a diver and placed 14th at state her senior year, while Rachel Piscopo, a 2015 graduate, also played soccer.
The Bears' win over Syca-more was their 13th in a row.
Brenna Smith had a team-high 41 goals through 15 games, followed by Lauren Farber (36), Schildmeyer (34), Piscopo and Megan Kozar (26).
UA will open the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 19 as the top seed in the region. The Bears earned a first-round bye and will play host to 10th-seeded Dublin Scioto or 13th-seeded Hilliard Davidson.
"I like our speed, our quickness and our chemistry," Pinta said.
"Our defense really held strong for us (against New Albany) and (goalkeeper) Libby (Mislan) had key saves at the right times. You can bank on the fact that our defense will get a couple of turnovers in the game and not allow an opponent to get on a roll."
Baseball team wins
The baseball team's sixth consecutive win prolonged its season May 8, as UA scored 11 runs in the first inning to rout visiting and 44th-seeded Franklin Heights 19-0 in five innings in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Brandon Horsley had a three-run home run in the first inning, and Andrew Ballenger added a three-run homer in the second as 19th-seeded UA advanced to visit 14th-seeded Dresden Tri-Valley for a second-round game May 10.
UA was 16-10 overall before May 10, and finished 9-5 in the OCC-Central. The Bears' scheduled May 5 game against Coffman was canceled and, according to coach Tom Marker, will not be made up.
UA ended up 1.5 games behind Davidson for the league title.
Davidson clinched the OCC-Central title with a 3-1, eight-inning win over Marysville on May 6. The Wildcats finished 11-4 in the league, followed by the Monarchs at 10-5.
The UA-Tri-Valley winner will play second-seeded Hilliard Darby or 27th-seeded Whetstone in a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined. The district final is Wednesday, May 17, at a neutral site against sixth-seeded New Albany, 10th-seeded Pickerington Central, 20th-seeded Coffman or 34th-seeded Reynoldsburg.
UA split its two league games against Coffman, winning 8-2 on April 21 and losing 3-1 on April 24.
Boys lacrosse team
shares league title
A 16-12 loss to Coffman on May 2 not only dashed the boys lacrosse team's hopes for an undefeated season, but it also meant UA had to share the OCC-Central championship with the Shamrocks and Davidson.
A win would have given UA the outright title.
Jack Dolan and Max Rankin each scored three goals for the Bears, who trailed 7-2 in the first quarter and finished 6-1 in the OCC-Central.
The loss also snapped the Bears' 22-game winning streak against Coffman, which dated to April 17, 2002.
UA dropped two of three games last week and was 13-2 overall before playing Worthington Kilbourne on May 9.
The Bears, who edged Olentangy 6-4 on May 5 and lost to Cincinnati Moeller 8-7 on May 6, close the regular season with the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament Friday, May 12, and Saturday, May 13, at Hudson Western Reserve Academy.
UA was voted the top seed in the 19-team Division I, Region 3 tournament. The Bears got a first-round bye and will play host to 18th-seeded Kettering Fairmont or 19th-seeded Newark in a second-round game Wednesday, May 17.
The winner will play eighth-seeded Westerville Central or ninth-seeded Scioto in a quarterfinal May 20 on the better-seeded team's home field.
Of those teams, UA defeated Newark 24-0 on April 18.
Defender Peter Klamar said before the loss to Coffman that the Bears had yet to peak.
"The most exciting thing is we are (13-2) and as a defense, we haven't even hit our full potential yet," Klamar said. "It's there in spurts. We just need to keep it going. We might get lazy or lose focus, and we make one mistake and that ends up being a goal."
Boys tennis team
set for sectional
The boys tennis team will play host to a Division I sectional tournament Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, to begin a postseason it hopes will culminate in qualifying at least one player to the state tournament for the 59th consecutive year.
UA holds the top two seeds in doubles, as Josh Cole and Jack Zelezny are seeded first and Jack Hughes and Jack Schadek are second.
Will Reynolds is seeded third in singles. Elliot Jones and Nathan Yu also are competing in singles at sectional.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 18 at Davidson and May 20 at UA.
The Bears are 11-4 overall after a 5-0 win over Westerville Central on May 8. They advanced in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament by shutting out Pickerington North 5-0 in a quarterfinal May 6.
UA will play Jerome in a district semifinal on a date to be determined.
Softball team advances
in district tourney
Kaylee Ballou's fourth-inning home run highlighted an offensive outburst as the softball team shut out visiting and 42nd-seeded Walnut Ridge 15-0 in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 8.
UA, seeded 21st of 45 teams, scored seven runs in the first inning, three in the second, four in the third and one in the fourth to improve to 9-13 overall and advance into a second-round game at eighth-seeded Hilliard Bradley on May 10. That winner will play 11th-seeded Watkins Memorial or 25th-seeded Coffman in a district semifinal Monday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined. The district final is May 19 or 20 at Pickerington Central.
UA split its two OCC-Central games against Coffman, winning 10-5 on April 20 and losing 8-3 on May 3.
The Bears finished 3-7 in the OCC-Central.
In the loss to Coffman, Taylor Pritchett hit a solo home run in the sixth inning, continuing a recent run of power for the senior. She also homered twice in a 12-11, eight-inning loss to Darby on April 22 and had a grand slam in the second inning of a 16-1, five-inning win over Westland on April 27.
Boys volleyball team
gets time to reset
With more than a week off between the end of the regular season and the beginning of the Division I East Region tournament, the boys volleyball team will continue to work on its passing.
UA is 5-11 overall and finished 0-10 in the OCC-Capital.
"We're at our best when we pass well," coach Greg Holowchak said. "We're able to be aggressive and, if we don't pass well, we give up too many free balls and we struggle overall. We have a lot of good hitters. We've just had trouble getting them the ball.
"We can be competitive with any team in our conference when we pass well."
UA finished the regular season by going 1-2 last week, losing to Coffman 28-26, 18-25, 25-14, 25-19 on May 2, beating Chillicothe in four games May 3 and losing to Pickerington Central 23-25, 25-18, 25-21, 25-12 on May 4.
Holowchak said the Bears' serving has improved, led by the efforts of Cam Gallucci and Gage Giller.
"All the guys have grown up," Holowchak said. "We're trying to break bad habits. The guys are making progress."
The regional tournament draw is scheduled for Monday, May 15.
Track teams set
for league meet
The track and field teams will compete in the OCC-Central meet Thursday, May 11, and Saturday, May 13, at Coffman, and try to improve on their finishes from a year ago.
Last year, the girls scored 65 points in the league meet to tie Central Crossing for fifth, behind Liberty (147), Coffman (137), Davidson (123) and Thomas Worthington (71) and ahead of Marysville (46) and Westland (7). The boys finished seventh (26), behind Marysville (161), Coffman (119), Davidson (114), Thomas (105), Liberty (92) and Westland (36) and ahead of Central Crossing (9).
UA then will compete in the Division I, district 2 meet at Darby. Field events will be held Tuesday, May 16, followed by the preliminaries for the running events Wednesday, May 17, and the running finals May 20.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to the regional meet May 24 and 26 at Pickerington North.