As Upper Arlington High School girls lacrosse coach Wendy Pinta pondered how her team would pursue a fourth consecutive Division I state championship, perhaps her biggest area of concern was draw control.
Senior Lauren Farber was the only returnee from a draw unit that lost 2017 graduates Anna Piscopo and Olivia Schildmeyer, the latter a three-time all-state selection who now plays at the University of Virginia.
Pinta did not have to mix and match long to find their replacements.
Senior Brenna Smith and sophomore Ellena Schildmeyer stepped in almost immediately and helped the draw remain dominant as the Golden Bears finished the regular season at 18-0 and were ranked first in the state by LaxPower.com.
Seeded first in the 17-team Region 3 tournament, UA played host to 12th-seeded Beavercreek in a second-round game May 15.
"We were so dominant at that part of the field (last year)," Pinta said. "Those two graduating left (Farber) on her own and we were pleasantly surprised when both Ellena and Anna stepped into those positions that were big holes for us and have filled them tremendously.
"Brenna is tall and strong. Ellena is really quick and incredibly feisty. We knew both of them had the potential, but we didn't know they'd be as strong or even stronger than the three we had last year."
Farber had a team-high 133 draw controls during the regular season. Schildmeyer had 64 and Smith had 38.
Farber usually is in the draw circle, flanked outside by Schildmeyer and Smith.
"The three of us just work well together and we communicate extremely well," Schildmeyer said. "At the beginning of the season, it was just a big change in dynamic for the whole team. We figured things out early on and that's been a big part of the way we play."
Farber, a Furman recruit, said aggressiveness, effective communication and good chemistry are essential characteristics for draw control.
"You have to be able to listen and adapt to situations quickly," Farber said. "Maybe I don't like how the draw is set up, so I have to talk to them while the draw is set up and tell the girls where they need to go. They do a good job of adapting. They are very aware. Those are very good qualities to have. ...
"Over the years, I've gotten better at the draw and knowing how to place it. Having played with Ellena and Brenna last year, we know each other. They know how I take the draw and where the ball is going to be, so it didn't take as much time as it did when I was new to the draw with Olivia and Anna."
Smith was second on the team in scoring during the regular season with 53 goals, two behind twin sister, Brooke Smith. Farber had 45 goals and Megan Kozar had 41.
"When the ball goes somewhere, I'll try to box out and get there really quick," Brenna Smith said. "Lauren is very good at telling us where the ball will go and what she thinks is going to happen."
UA finished the regular season with a 13-2 win over Dublin Jerome on May 8, extending its winning streak against in-state opponents to 70 games dating to the beginning of the 2015 season.
The second-round winner plays host to eighth-seeded Pickerington North or 11th-seeded Centerville in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 18. That winner will play host to a regional semifinal against fourth-seeded Springboro, sixth-seeded Dublin Scioto, 10th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 13th-seeded Hilliard Davidson on Monday, May 21.
The regional final is May 24 at a neutral site.
UA defeated North 19-1 on April 12 and beat Davidson 21-1 on April 23.
Tennis team advances five to district
The boys tennis team qualified both its doubles pairings and one singles player to this week's Division I district tournament.
The doubles teams of Josh Cole and Will Reynolds and Paige Kompa and Nathan Yu will compete Thursday, May 17, at Hilliard Bradley and Saturday, May 19, at UA, as will singles player Elliot Jones.
Top-seeded Cole and Reynolds defeated second-seeded Kompa and Yu 6-0, 6-2 in the sectional final May 12 at UA to cap a 4-0 run through the tournament. Kompa and Yu went 3-1.
Jones, who was seeded second, went 3-2 and finished fourth.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.
Also competing but failing to advance were singles players Nick Gruss (2-1 at sectional) and Emerson Dean (1-1).
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament May 25 and 26 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
UA also advanced in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament with a 3-1 win over Dublin Jerome in a district semifinal May 14. The Bears will play host to New Albany in the district final Monday, May 21.
The district champion advances to a state semifinal May 27 at Reynoldsburg.
Volleyball team looks to right ship
Boys volleyball coach Greg Holowchak emphasized one word to his team as it tried to shake off a late-season slump entering the Division I East Region tournament.
"Consistency, consistency, consistency," Holowchak said. "We have not been consistent and that's been the story of our season. We can play really well and there are other times we don't do well for a while. I have tried to stress that we can't take plays off. They need to remain focused."
UA started last week with consecutive losses to below-.500 teams in DeSales (22-25, 25-15, 25-10, 25-17 on May 7) and Pickerington Central (17-25, 25-21, 25-16, 25-18 on May 18) and improved to 12-7 with a four-game win at Olentangy Orange on May 9. The Bears finished 6-6 in the OCC-Ohio with the loss to Central.
Despite their struggles, the Bears are enjoying their best season since 2009, when they were 10-11.
UA earned the 11th seed in the 20-team tournament and will play 10th-seeded Pickerington North in a second-round match Saturday, May 19, at Darby. The winner will advance to a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 22, at Darby against the host and top-seeded Panthers, fourth-seeded Mount Vernon or 20th-seeded Delaware.
The regional final is May 25 at Westerville Central.
UA split two OCC-Ohio matches against North, winning 25-20, 25-20, 25-16 on April 19 and losing 12-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 eight days later.
"Sometimes we've been able to overcome our mistakes. When they are consistent, they can do anything they want," Holowchak said. "That's the biggest thing we are battling right now. We can't take any time off and just watch what's happening. As a team, we have improved in pretty much all aspects. We just have to be able to do it through an entire match."
Track teams finish second in OCC meet
The boys and girls track and field teams both finished second to Davidson in their respective OCC-Central meets that concluded May 12 at Dublin Coffman.
Adrienne Wachtman's first-place finish in the high jump (5 feet, 2 inches) and runner-up finishes in the discus (106-3) and shot put (36-10 3/4) helped lead UA to 124 points and second place behind Davidson (201) and ahead of Coffman (108), Marysville (78), Westland (6) and Central Crossing (4).
Emma Zid won the 400 meters (59.05) and was second in the 100 (12.63) and 200 (26.16), Heidi Heuerman was second in the 3,200 (11:52.12) and third in the 1,600 (5:09.85), Juliana Mustric was second in the 300 hurdles (46.9) and fourth in the 100 hurdles (16.96) and Ellen Sneed was runner-up in the high jump (5-0).
The boys scored 117 points to finish behind Davidson (159) and ahead of Coffman (105), Marysville (72), Central Crossing (53) and Westland (15).
Max Czerwonka and Isaac Perry were first (15.45) and second (15.84), respectively, in the 110 hurdles, Garegin Soghomonyan won the pole vault (13-8) and Avery Heath was second in the 100 (11.31) and 200 (22.82) to lead UA.
The Bears began Division I district competition earlier this week at Darby. The boys are in district 1. Preliminaries for the running events were May 15, followed by field events Thursday, May 17, and running finals Saturday, May 19.
The girls are in district 2, for which field events took place May 16, followed the next day by preliminaries for running events and then running finals May 19.
The top four finishers in each event advance to regional Wednesday, May 23, and May 25 at Pickerington North. At regional, the top four finishers in each event advance to state June 1 and 2 at Ohio State.
Baseball team advances in tourney
Mason Ward's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth inning May 9 gave the baseball team a 5-4 win over 30th-seeded Scioto in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Fifth-seeded UA, which led 3-1 going into the seventh inning before giving up three runs in the top of the inning to briefly trail, improved to 20-7 and played 20th-seeded Gahanna in a district semifinal May 15 at Darby.
The winner plays seventh-seeded Jerome or eighth-seeded Lancaster in a district final Thursday, May 17, at a neutral site. The district champion advances to a regional semifinal May 24 at Coffman.
UA was seeking its first district championship since 2010 and 16th in program history.
Boys lacrosse team seeded first in tourney
The boys lacrosse team finished its regular season by finishing third in the A bracket of Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament that concluded May 12 at Fortress Obetz and then played host to 16th-seeded Miamisburg in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 15.
UA was 16-2 before May 15 and was seeded first of 19 teams in the region.
The second-round winner plays host to 10th-seeded Pickerington North or 13th-seeded Beavercreek in a regional quarterfinal Friday, May 18. That winner will play host to a regional semifinal against fifth-seeded Davidson, sixth-seeded Westerville Central, seventh-seeded Darby or 19th-seeded Newark on Tuesday, May 22.
The regional final is May 25 at a neutral site.
UA defeated North 16-3 on April 12 and beat Davidson 12-3 on April 24.
In the MSLCA tournament, the Bears lost to Cincinnati Moeller 6-3 on May 11 but bounced back the next day with a 10-6 win over Cleveland St. Ignatius in the third-place game.
Softball team falls to Braves
A five-run sixth inning highlighted by junior shortstop Olivia Carlton's grand slam off the scoreboard temporarily gave the softball team the lead in its Division I district tournament second-round game May 9 at 13th-seeded Olentangy, but the Braves scored twice in the bottom inning and once in the eighth on a throwing error to win 8-7.
Seeded 21st of 48 teams in the district tournament, UA finished 14-9 overall.
Both teams had 10 hits, but the Bears committed two errors to one for Olentangy.
"I felt we were just as good as they were. We had our chances," coach Terry Streng said. "We played very, very well. We were down three (runs, 4-1 after four innings) and fought back. We threw a couple pitches we shouldn't have ... but it's all part of the game."
UA finished with its best record since going 21-5 in 2010, when it was a district runner-up.
Carlton had a team-high six home runs and batted .500. Senior outfielder Gigi Danes added two homers and had a team-best .605 batting average.
The Bears expect to return their top two pitchers next year in sophomore Demi Sauter and freshman Maxine McCraw as well as sophomore catcher Megan Harold. Others eligible to return include juniors Kaylee Ballou (SS), Sabrina Good (OF), Jackie Kasai (OF) and Madison Pritchett (P/INF).
UA went 6-4 in the OCC-Central to finish third behind Marysville (10-0) and Central Crossing (8-2) and ahead of Coffman (4-6), Davidson (2-8) and Westland (0-10).
The Bears defeated host and 17th-seeded Jerome 9-4 in the first round of the district tournament May 7.
"The girls did a wonderful job and grew all year," Streng said.
"We have a good group coming up. They improved tremendously over the last few years and they know now they can come back (in games). I like to think I had a little to do with that, but the girls did a great job on their own. I've seen their confidence grow."