Although he expected the Olentangy Berlin High School boys lacrosse team to struggle in its inaugural season, coach Dominique Alexander thought the Bears would have at least one victory in their first 13 games.
They were on their way to a win in an OCC-Cardinal Division contest April 25 at Hilliard Bradley, but the game was suspended because of bad weather with Berlin leading 10-8 at halftime. The game will be resumed Thursday, May 2, at Bradley at the start of the third quarter.
"We have to keep playing and hopefully this gives us some momentum going into some other games," said Alexander, whose team was 0-13 overall and 0-5 in the league before playing Delaware on April 30. "We had 10 goals in a half, which is the most we have had this season.
"At the end of the day, it's good for momentum. We are a much-improved team from the first game until now."
Alexander not only has a first-year program, but about one-third of the roster had never played lacrosse before. He said the newcomers have been a quick study.
"We have been teaching a lot of fundamentals," he said. "Our kids are predominantly freshmen and sophomores. We have only five juniors in the program.
"Aside from just having younger kids, we also have kids who are totally new to lacrosse. Before the first scrimmage, we had 10 kids out of around 30 in the program that had never played the game before. Things are moving in the right direction."
Jack Nebraska had four goals and two assists before the suspension of play against Bradley, and Gavin Angell had two goals and two assists.
"We're definitely getting better," said Nebraska, a junior midfielder/attacker. "From the first game until now, the freshmen are really starting to play well. They don't look scared anymore.
"I think the two biggest improvements are that we stopped making little mistakes and we're playing with intensity. If we come out with a little confidence, we can play fast and play to the best of our abilities."
Alexander said it comes down to his players learning the intricacies of the sport.
"In general, the kids are starting to buy into the system and what we are trying to teach them," he said. "We are getting them to understand what we are talking about. Getting them to understand lacrosse language has been helpful.
"We have some guys who have been playing football, soccer, basketball and other sports where they are used to different terminology. We're trying to draw similarities from the sports they are familiar with to a newer sport. The good news is we have a bunch of coaches who have played different sports and, as a (physical education) teacher, I understand how to play other sports and how to make sense of things for them."
The Bears' schedule hasn't been an easy one. They have played DeSales, New Albany and St. Charles along with Dublin Jerome and Worthington Kilbourne in league action.
"We have played some really good teams and I wasn't going to shy away from good teams so our guys could see what good lacrosse looks like," Alexander said. "Our kids have played some really talented teams, but they have learned that when you don't do some of the things that you have been coached to do, good teams are going to burn you.
"As a staff, we feel we're improving, but we want the kids to experience that winning feeling. Obviously, everyone in the school is building for the future and it's a process, but we want to get that first win. We want them to experience what it feels like to put in all of the hard work, execute the game plan, stick with that game plan for an entire game and see us have more goals than the other team."
Tennis team learning from tough schedule
The boys tennis team was 1-12 overall after losing to Westerville Central 3-2 on April 29 and 0-6 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Dublin Scioto on May 1.
The Bears won their opener against Westerville North 3-2 on April 3 but then lost 12 consecutive matches.
"I have definitely seen improvement and (like) the perseverance of our players," coach James Savinell said. "We're a Division II school playing Division I teams, and we have played a lot of high-caliber teams. We want to use that experience to make us better in the future."
The Bears finished second in the Spartans Invitational on April 13 at Marion Pleasant behind Ada. Akhil Damarla won at first singles, and Kathir Maarikarthykeyan was runner-up at third singles. Vishnu Dasaka was third at second singles, and Adithya Balachandar and Brody Edgson (first doubles) and Ansh Arora and Tyler Hagerman (second doubles) both were fourth.
"We're excited about that (finish at Pleasant) and that has helped to balance out some of the difficulties of playing high-quality opponents," Savinell said. "Our guys have shown great leadership. I'm proud of their doggedness and hard work."
Depth gives boys track team title
The boys track and field team did not win any events but came away with the championship in the eight-team Olentangy Invitational on April 26.
The Bears scored 85 points to 82 for the runner-up and host Braves.
Berlin finished second and third in three events. Noah Dursik (43 feet, 1 inch) and Gabe Chrysler (42-10) were second and third in the shot put. Ian Poehler and Luke Walden were second and third, respectively, in the pole vault with efforts of 13-0. Marcus Elliott (23.72 seconds) and Liam McGreevey (23.91) were second and third in the 200 meters.
Corey Rinehart was runner-up in the 1,600 (4:42.06) and Ethan Harsh was third in the 110 hurdles (16.08) and 300 hurdles (42.97). McGreevey, Benant Bukari, Elliott and Johnny Spinner were third in the 400 relay (45.9).
The girls team finished fourth (60) behind champion Hilliard Darby (138). The 400 relay of Sierra Cardi, Cara Susey, Skylar Stevenson and Meghan Hill won in 52.43, and the 3,200 relay of Meghan Boggess, Olivia Cool, Rebecca Koppelman and Olivia Neidhardt was first in 10:25.42.
Boggess was third in the 1,600 (5:41.9) and Anne Freeman was third in the shot put (32-11).
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, softball, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
May 2 -- At Westerville North
*May 3 -- At Worthington Kilbourne
April 4 -- At Dublin Coffman (DH)
*May 6 -- Home vs. Kilbourne
*May 8 -- Home vs. Delaware
*May 2 -- At Hilliard Bradley in continuation of game suspended because of bad weather April 25. The game will be resumed to start the second half with the Bears leading 10-8.
May 4 -- At Hilliard Davidson
May 8 -- At Liberty
May 2 -- Home vs. Liberty
May 7 -- Home vs. Granville
May 4 -- At Canal Winchester
May 7 -- At 13th-seeded Buckeye Valley in first round of Division II district tournament. Winner plays at sixth-seeded Sparta Highland in second round May 9. The Bears are seeded 14th.
May 2 -- At Reynoldsburg
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Delaware County Elite 8 at Orange
*May 2 -- Home vs. Kilbourne. The Bears lost to the Cardinals 25-9, 25-23, 25-16 on April 11.
*May 7 -- At Delaware. The Bears lost to the Pacers 25-16, 25-18, 25-22 on April 16.
May 8 -- Home vs. Eastmoor Academy