Carolyn Stehle had to quickly acclimate herself to varsity play two years ago as a freshman, when she became the Upper Arlington High School girls soccer team's starting goalkeeper.
Now a junior, Stehle finds herself as a veteran presence on a team that recently upset state-ranked Dublin Jerome and entered the week in contention for the OCC-Central Division championship despite having lost 13 players from a year ago to graduation.
UA was 8-4 overall and 1-1 in the league before playing Westland on Sept. 25, having split two games last week. The Bears beat ninth-ranked Jerome 4-1 on Sept. 18 before losing to Hilliard Davidson 3-1 in league play Sept. 20.
"This is something special we have this season. It's been great so far," Stehle said. "I wasn't exactly sure how we would jell having lost so many players, but that hasn't been a problem. The younger girls that are on the team, you wouldn't know it. It looks like they've been on the varsity level for years."
Through 12 games, freshman Abby Reisz led UA with nine goals. Sydney Lape, a junior, had seven goals and freshman Camryn Callaghan had four.
"We probably have five or six girls with multiple assists, too. The girls are playing our system very well," coach Chris Merrick said. "Abby has been a potent scoring weapon. She's an incredible athlete with good skill and great speed. She gets set up a lot by everybody else, which underscores how solid this team is in a lot of areas. Girls work to get good chances, not just for themselves but for their teammates, and they get into situations where everybody can make plays."
Although UA was not ranked in last week's Division I district poll, all four of its losses entering the week were to teams in the poll. The Bears lost to fifth-ranked Olentangy (2-1 on Sept. 8), seventh-ranked Gahanna (3-1 on Sept. 15) and ninth-ranked Davidson as well as to top-ranked Granville in Division II (4-0 on Aug. 20).
"When we've played well, we've just been very consistent," Lape said. "We've passed very well between our forwards, our defenders have been good and we've been able to clear balls. I was a little nervous coming into this year just because I wasn't sure what we had, but the entire team has stepped up. We've focused, we haven't let up, and because of that, we have a lot of wins.
"Our win over Jerome excited us a lot. Beating them by three was huge for us. We connected well."
UA's final two OCC-Central games are against the teams that entered the week in a tie for first place. The Bears play host to Marysville on Tuesday, Oct. 2, and visit Dublin Coffman on Oct. 9.
Coffman and Marysville were 2-0 in the league before playing each other Sept. 25. Davidson and UA were 1-1 and Central Crossing and Westland both were 0-2.
"Once we graduate, it's good to know we're going to have some strong players to keep things up here," Stehle said. "But we have a lot of goals to achieve before then."
Tennis team wins another league title
The girls tennis team won its 29th league championship in 30 seasons when it defeated Coffman 4-1 on Sept. 17, and at the same time advanced in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament.
UA is 9-0 overall entering a Friday, Sept. 28, home match against Columbus School for Girls and finished 5-0 in the OCC-Central.
The Bears will visit Watterson for a district quarterfinal on a date to be determined. The winner visits Olentangy or Olentangy Orange for a district semifinal.
Against Coffman, UA got wins from Ella Hazelbaker at first singles, Evelyn Holman at second singles, Wendy Shi at third singles and Angela Li and Noah Mizer at first doubles. A loss at second doubles was the Bears' first in a dual match this season.
UA also defeated Westerville North 5-0 on Sept. 18 in the makeup of a match postponed from Aug. 16 because of bad weather.
Golf teams prepare for sectionals
The boys and girls golf teams will participate in Division I sectionals Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The boys will compete in a sectional at Darby Creek, where the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley.
The Bears are seeking their first state tournament berth since 2014, when they finished third.
The girls will compete in a sectional at Mentel Memorial, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
UA is seeded second of 33 teams in the district, behind New Albany. The Bears last advanced to state in 2016, when they placed fourth.
UA finished third (328) in the inaugural Lady Bear Invitational on Sept. 20 at Brookside. Emily Hummer shot a 79 to lead the Bears, followed by Julia Rabadam (80), Lilly Carine (84) and Reagan Nolan (85).
New Albany won the nine-team event with a 306.
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington cross country, field hockey, boys golf, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis, girls volleyball and boys water polo teams:
Sept. 29 -- Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Bradley
*Oct. 1 -- At Olentangy Berlin
*Oct. 3 -- At Thomas Worthington
Sept. 29 -- Dublin Jerome Honorary Invitational at Hickory Hills
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Darby Creek
Oct. 2 -- Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 27 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
*Oct. 2 -- At Marysville
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Marysville
Sept. 28 -- Home vs. Columbus School for Girls
Oct. 1 -- At Pickerington Central
*Sept. 27 -- At Central Crossing. The Golden Bears defeated the Comets 25-15, 25-15, 25-11 on Sept. 4.
*Oct. 2 -- Home vs. Hilliard Davidson. The Golden Bears defeated the Wildcats 25-11, 25-17, 20-25, 25-20 on Sept. 6.
BOYS WATER POLO
Sept. 29 -- Upper Arlington Invitational