The New Albany High School field hockey team insisted that matching the longest winning streak in program history came down to the basics.
"Everybody is doing their job and they are finally working together really well," coach Marissa Weldon said. "Our passing has been crisp. Our intensity has been very good. We haven't let up at all during games. Our seniors have kept the team focused and I feel like we're well-prepared."
The Eagles were 8-4-1 overall and 4-2-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division before playing Granville on Oct. 9. New Albany had won six consecutive games, tying a streak it put together during the 2016 season as the best stretch in the team's seven varsity seasons, before a 2-1 overtime loss to Watterson on Oct. 3.
Six of the Eagles' wins entering the week were by shutout, and they allowed just one goal in each of the other two -- 3-1 over Gates Mills Hawken on Sept. 15 and 5-1 over Olentangy on Sept. 20.
Seven of the 12 goals New Albany had allowed through 13 games came in a two-game span, a 3-1 loss to Upper Arlington on Sept. 5 and a 4-0 setback against Olentangy Liberty three nights later when goalkeeper Bella Thompson made a season-high 28 saves.
Senior Chloe Clapham and junior Elan Watson have been the defensive mainstays in front of Thompson, a sophomore, and senior goalie Marie Tawfik. Senior Caroline Ryan started on the defense last year but moved up to midfielder this season.
"It's about the people in front of me. I'm not going to lie," said Clapham, a second-year starter. "They are supportive and we all work together well to get the ball out. Communication has been huge. We are all good about calling for the ball and helping if someone gets beat. That's great to know if there is someone behind you if you miss the ball."
Junior forward Brooke Mason, who had 14 of the Eagles' 33 goals through 13 games, pointed to the win over Olentangy as a game in which she saw the team turn a corner.
"This year has been a big step forward in finishing shots and working together, especially on corners and fast breaks," Mason said. "Those have been keys to being able to finish."
Senior Sunnie Fireman and Mason are New Albany's inner forwards. Seniors Lauren Sokol and Katie Vatke and sophomore Olivia Angles round out the forward line.
Sokol had seven goals and Angles had six through 13 games.
"One of the main focuses in the beginning was being able to finish on the forward line and get those shots in," Mason said. "We have been and that's led to some wins. We've passed well and moved together well as a team. They've definitely improved. In the beginning, we had some difficulty finishing some shots and just getting the ball in the net, really. We've been able to get a lot more shots in lately."
A 3-0 win over Hartley on Oct. 1 allowed the Eagles to exceed a team objective of scoring 30 goals this season and let them continue to improve on last year's 5-11-1 record. Tying the program record of 11 wins, set in both 2015 and 2016, remained a possibility entering the week.
New Albany plays its regular-season finale Thursday, Oct. 11, with a league game at Columbus Academy and begins the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 16, at home against Olentangy.
The winner will visit Lancaster or Thomas Worthington for a district semifinal Oct. 23.
"We just want to be a successful team that can continue in this system after (the seniors) graduate," Clapham said. "We want this program to remain strong."
Soccer teams close in on titles
The girls soccer team reasserted itself as the team to beat in the OCC-Capital with a 7-2 win at Canal Winchester on Oct. 2, clinching at least a tie for the league title after finishing second behind the Indians a year ago.
Brooklyn Harris scored four goals at Canal Winchester and had a team-high 20 through 15 games. New Albany was 8-3-4 overall and 4-0 in the OCC-Capital before playing Franklin Heights on Oct. 9.
"Our attack is phenomenal, but we've had some unfortunate breaks. I don't think there's one game where we haven't outshot somebody, but we haven't always been able to finish or be clinical in the box," coach Jared Dombrowski said. "(On Oct. 2) everything seemed to click. That's the capability of our group. As a whole, the girls played lights out. That's how you have to play a rival.
"(Harris) is an amazing talent. She is very nimble. When she is motivated, she gets after it and she can finish. She has created a lot for us."
Harris also had eight assists through 15 games. Lydia Cornelius had 10 goals and a team-high 17 assists.
The boys soccer team faced two league games in as many days as it hoped to clinch its third consecutive OCC-Capital championship.
New Albany, which was ranked fifth in the state in Division I last week, was 12-0 overall and 3-0 in the league before playing Canal Winchester on Oct. 8. That game was postponed from Oct. 2 because of bad weather.
The Indians also were 3-0 in the league before Oct. 8.
The Eagles were scheduled to finish league play Oct. 9 at Franklin Heights.
Girls golfers win sectional
The girls golf team moved one step closer to its first Division I state tournament berth when it won an 11-team sectional tournament Oct. 2 at Westchester by 25 shots.
Kary Hollenbaugh and Madison Spiess each shot 74 to share medalist honors, leading New Albany to a team score of 302 and first place ahead of runner-up Liberty (327). The top three teams advanced to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
Also scoring for the Eagles were Morgan Pankow (76) and Anna Ritter (78). Gwynnie Lee shot a 79, a score that would have counted for each of the other 10 teams and would have led seven of them.
Pickerington North (345) earned the other team berth to district, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
Boys golfers compete at district
The boys golf team competed in the Division I district tournament Oct. 9 at Apple Valley, seeking its first trip to state as a team since 2013.
New Albany finished fourth (316) in an 11-team sectional Oct. 2 at Denison Golf Club behind champion Dublin Jerome (290). The top four teams advanced to district.
Scoring for the Eagles were Logan Spiess (76), Caleb Delaney (79), Griffin Green (80) and Jack Curtis (81). Jacob Brooks shot an 82.
Olentangy Orange (308) and Hilliard Davidson (315) also advanced to district, where the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Tennis team advances pair to district
The doubles pairing of Valentina DiLorenzo and Alexandra Vitellas will represent the girls tennis team in the Division I district tournament Thursday, Oct. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 13, at Reynoldsburg.
DiLorenzo and Vitellas finished first in a sectional that concluded Oct. 6 at Reynoldsburg, going 4-0 and defeating Pickerington North's Maggie Haas and Kim Nguyen 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the final.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to district.
Also competing but failing to advance were singles players Helen Wang (2-1), Thalia Fuentes (1-1) and Roshni Chandawarkar (0-1) and the doubles team of Maya Klein and Sophia Rosen (2-1).
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the state tournament Oct. 19 and 20 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
New Albany was 11-3 before finishing its regular season Oct. 9 at Orange.
Below are the coming schedules for the New Albany cross country, boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 13 -- OCC-Capital meet at Lancaster
Oct. 11 -- Home vs. Upper Arlington
Oct. 13 -- At St. Charles
Oct. 20 -- Home vs. 24th-seeded Groveport or 34th-seeded Westland in second round of Division I district tournament. The Eagles are seeded second.
Oct. 18 -- Home vs. 27th-seeded Delaware or 32nd-seeded Logan in second round of Division I district tournament. The Eagles are seeded eighth.
*Oct. 11 -- Home vs. Franklin Heights. The Eagles defeated the Falcons 25-5, 25-8, 25-6 on Sept. 25.
Oct. 18 -- At 13th-seeded Watkins Memorial or home vs. 23rd-seeded Hilliard Darby in second round of Division I district tournament. The Eagles are seeded 22nd.