Jack Dawson raced into the crease and fired the ball into the net, giving the Bexley High School boys lacrosse team its second victory in its first three games.
But the junior attacker's goal did more than beat Westerville North 9-8 in overtime March 23. It also helped the Lions continue to grow in confidence while matching their win total from last season when they finished 2-13.
"We have a new coach (Chris Robbins) and we came more together in the offseason," Dawson said. "We're ready to win."
Robbins helped lead Bexley to a 2-1 record before playing Westerville South on March 26, and the first three contests came during spring break when player availability was limited. The Lions defeated Johnstown 14-3 on March 15 before losing to Dublin Scioto 13-2 on March 21 when they had only 11 players.
"Having our first three games over spring break has made it hard to see what we really have," said Robbins, who was coach at Pickerington North in 2013 and an assistant at Gahanna from 2014-18. "We have yet to play a game with a full roster. We'll see who we really have, who will be our contributors and what their roles will be. We have three or four other long-stick (midfielders) that we haven't seen yet."
One role that is clear to Robbins is his team's go-to player. After missing last season with a knee injury, senior attacker Hunter Hilgeman is making up for lost time. He had five goals against North, while Dawson added two. Sophomore goalkeeper Tyler Owens-Terwilliger had 14 saves.
"Our defense is probably our strongest area and it's led by (Owens-Terwilliger) in goal," said Robbins, who also was an assistant at Olentangy from 2010-12. "From what I understand, he has made leaps and bounds from last year. He has been quarterbacking our defense this season."
Robbins said senior Tommy Lee, junior Ethan Fosnaugh and sophomore Elliot Goldman are key defenders, and Dawson and Hilgeman will be joined on the attack by juniors Tyler Behl and Charlie Britt.
The midfield positions were still a work in progress, according to Robbins.
"This group likes each other," he said. "Before I came in, I asked the older players what they liked about this team and they said that it's a family, and it really is. I bought into that culture.
"They like each other and they play hard for each other. That makes a coach's life a lot easier when we can work on team-oriented Xs and Os."
Sciacca takes over softball program
The softball team has a new coach in Jess Sciacca, who was the assistant varsity coach the past three years.
The Lions went 14-11 overall and 3-5 in the MSL-Ohio Division last season and return six starters, including senior Sarah Schellhaas (1B), junior Camille Manring (2B) and sophomores Claire Melville (P) and Aly Cox (C). Senior Sophie Yates has moved from right field to third base, and sophomore Liv Wilson has gone from center field to shortstop.
Senior third baseman Savannah Schwallie suffered a knee injury playing volleyball and will miss the season.
Melville shared pitching duties with 2018 graduate Natalie Grace.
"Claire is our only pitcher in the program, so we have to keep her healthy," said Sciacca, whose team opened March 27 against Westerville South. "The kids understand the game pretty well and they are dedicated. We're going to be young this year, but we have a lot of good athletes."
Cox was first-team all-league as a freshman.
"I feel like I'm more vocal than last year, and I really didn't want to speak up then," she said. "I'm a captain this year, and I'm not afraid to be vocal.
"I think one of the things we do well is not getting negative when things don't go our way. We always look on the bright side of situations and that helps."
Sciacca said junior Allison Bernstein and sophomore Eleanor Reich would play center and left, respectively, and the third outfield spot still was open.
The Lions open league play Monday, April 1, at Grandview.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bexley baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
March 28 -- Home vs. Briggs
March 20 -- Home vs. Hamilton Township (DH)
April 2 -- At Olentangy Berlin
April 3 -- At Hartley
March 30 -- Home vs. Big Walnut
April 2 -- At Wellington
March 31 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
*April 2 -- At Columbus Academy
March 28 -- Home vs. Canal Winchester
March 30 -- Home vs. Briggs and Centennial
*April 1 -- At Grandview
April 2 -- Home vs. Millersport
*April 3 -- Home vs. Whitehall
March 28 -- At Lancaster
April 1 -- Home vs. Reynoldsburg
*April 2 -- Home vs. Whitehall
TRACK & FIELD
March 29 -- Jeff Schneider Invitational at home
April 2 -- Home vs. Columbus East and Whitehall