Everything fell into place at the right time for the Westerville North High School girls soccer team.
The 20th-seeded Warriors had won six of seven games and were 8-9-1 entering their Division I district semifinal Oct. 23 at seventh-seeded Gahanna. First-year coach Ricky Konko-lewski said it was a matter of getting healthy and the players understanding the system.
"This is the healthiest and most confident we have been this season," said Konkolewski, whose team was making its first district semifinal appearance since losing to Gahanna 1-0 in overtime in 2016. "A lot of times you see teams go in the other direction this time of year, but we are playing our best."
After defeating 39th-seeded Groveport 13-0 on Oct. 15 at home in the first round, the Warriors won at 11th-seeded Canal Winchester 4-3 in a shootout Oct. 18 in the second round.
The Warriors made their first four penalty kicks to win the shootout 4-3. Hannah Cripe, Katie Koch and Mikayla Martin all scored before Nia Hassey delivered the game-clinching fourth goal.
Goalkeeper Abby Markley, who finished with 11 saves, blocked a possible tying try for the Indians.
"I was a little scared going into the shootout but our first-year keeper, Abby Markley, really stepped up for us," Konkolewski said. "She had really good saves throughout the game, but especially in the shootout."
Martin got her team on the scoreboard early on a header off a Trinity Hassey corner kick.
"I definitely think toward the end of season, we started to get our formations down and began to learn how to play together on the field," Martin said. "When it comes down to tournament time, everyone gets excited to play because it's what you remember about the season. You don't remember your record, only how you play in the tournament and how far you go."
Cripe scored off another Trinity Hassey corner kick, and Melissa Szawranskyj scored the third goal off a Nia Hassey assist.
"Probably two-thirds of our goals have been coming on corner or free kicks," Konkolewski said. "That's been one of our strengths, and we have been very confident in those."
The North-Gahanna winner advanced to a district final Saturday, Oct. 27, against top-seeded Watterson or 14th-seeded Marysville at a neutral site to be determined. North lost to Marysville 2-1 on Sept. 6.
The district champion faces Dublin Jerome, Hilliard Darby, Olentangy Liberty or Upper Arlington in a regional semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 30, at Jerome. The Warriors lost to Darby 2-0 on Aug. 23, UA 2-0 on Aug. 28 and Liberty 2-1 on Sept. 25 in OCC-Buckeye Division play.
The regional final is Nov. 3.
Girls runners reach regional
The girls cross country team will compete in the Division I regional meet Saturday, Oct. 27, at Pickerington North, with the top five teams and top 20 individuals advancing to state Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway.
In the district 2 race Oct. 20 at Darby, Paige Miracle finished 19th in 20 minutes, 15.1 seconds to lead the Warriors, who finished sixth (175 points) behind champion Granville (34) to earn the final regional berth.
Grace Blanchong (33rd, 20:41.8), Lilia Monzalvo (34th, 20:43.8), Audrey Smith (40th, 20:59.8), Samantha Dages (49th, 21:20.1), Erica Mobley (51st, 21:22.4) and Eva Bernhardt (58th, 21:37.5) also competed.
The boys team finished 18th (494) in district 3 behind champion Pickerington North (55) as the top six teams and top 24 individuals qualified for regional.
Isaiah Hutcherson (42nd, 17:41.7) led the Warriors, followed by Dillon Lauer (85th, 18:35.1), Matthew Rollins (116th, 19:11.3), Brent Daubenmire (118th, 19:16.1), D'Angelo Phillips (133rd, 20:12.1), Ryan Iarussi (136th, 20:19.0) and Seth Derstine (141st, 20:41.4).
Girls volleyball team falls to Pioneers
The 34th-seeded girls volleyball team lost at fourth-seeded Olentangy Orange 25-10, 25-10, 25-15 on Oct. 18 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
The Warriors, who finished 8-16 overall and 2-8 in the OCC-Buckeye, won at 32nd-seeded Marysville 23-25, 25-18, 25-9, 25-18 on Oct. 16 in the first round.
Middle hitter Cameron Calhoun (120 kills, 40 blocks) and outside hitter Maddy Hinz (120 kills, team-high 31 aces, 142 digs) led a six-player senior class.
Junior middle hitter Clarke Gilchrist led the Warriors with 54 blocks and added 113 kills, and junior libero Ameena Freeman had a team-high 250 digs. Sophomore Addy Moore led with 267 assists, and junior setter Lynn Burton had 215 assists. Junior outside hitter Lily Miller had 80 kills and 113 digs.
Boys soccer team falls to Greyhounds
The boys soccer team lost at 19th-seeded Grove City 4-1 on Oct. 20 in the second round of the Division I district tournament.
Junior midfielder Jacob Grant scored for the 31st-seeded Warriors, who finished 1-12-4 overall and 0-2-3 in the OCC-Buckeye.
Other top players expected to return include junior midfielder/defender Austin Bealer, junior midfielder/forward Owen Thompson and sophomore goalie Sam Olson.