A practice exercise helped turn around the season for the Olentangy Berlin High School girls lacrosse team.
After starting 2-5, the Bears went 7-0 in their next seven contests thanks to a team work out before the Hannigan-Galipault Tournament on April 13 at Thomas Worthington.
"We did a drill we call 'hot lava' where a group of players is blindfolded and another group is not," said coach Megan Noone, whose team was 9-6 overall before playing Granville on May 7 and finished 4-3 in the OCC-Cardinal Division. "There was a bunch of lacrosse balls on the field and the blindfolded players are helped out by their non-blindfolded teammates, who were called communicators. They worked to get the balls back to their safe zone. The girls have to work together as a team and trust each other. After that drill, we have been playing so much better."
The Bears defeated Chillicothe 14-6 and Hudson Western Reserve 11-7 at Thomas and also won league games against Hilliard Darby (13-12 on April 16), Thomas (21-9 on April 23), Hilliard Bradley (19-5 on April 25) and Delaware (14-12 on April 30). They also defeated Westerville Central 15-11 on April 18.
The winning streak was snapped with a 15-3 loss to Liberty on May 2.
"I feel like (the success) has come from a combination of things," Noone said. "Offensively, all seven of our players in front of the restraining line have been playing well, and our midfielders are doing the bulk of the running and moving the ball. We also have been having good communication on the defensive end."
Through 15 games, junior attacker/midfielder Andi Henry had 52 goals and had surpassed 100 goals in her varsity career at Berlin and Olentangy. Junior attacker/defender Izzy Conrad and freshman attacker Libby Cuckler both had 32 goals, and sophomore midfielder Jenna Brennan had 14 goals. Sophomore midfielder Dacey Redman scored 12 goals, and junior midfielder/defender Demera Harrison had 10 goals.
Junior goalkeeper Bri Hibbits totaled 103 saves.
The Bears are seeded 11th for the Division II, Region 7 tournament and open Monday, May 13, at sixth-seeded Hartley in the first round. The winner plays third-seeded Granville or 13th-seeded Chillicothe in a quarterfinal May 18 at the home of the better seed.
"We are beyond expectations for a first-year program," said Noone, whose team plays at DeSales on Thursday, May 9, and at Columbus School for Girls on Friday, May 10, to close the regular season. "Right now we just want to finish the regular season strong. The regular season is our first season, and we want to be prepared as we can for our second season."
Boys lacrosse team picks up first win
The boys lacrosse team improved to 1-14 overall and 1-6 in the OCC-Cardinal by defeating Bradley 14-13 on May 2 in a game that started April 25 and was suspended because of bad weather.
Jack Nebraska led with six goals and three assists, and Gavin Angell had three goals and three assists. Zack Zielinski had two goals and goalie Sam Warner had 20 saves.
"It was a hard-fought game and I am really proud of the guys for sticking with the game plan and executing what we practiced," coach Dominique Alexander said. "It felt really good to get that first win and the team was really excited. I was extremely happy for the players and my staff who have been working really hard this season. They earned it. "
The Bears play host to Granville on Friday, May 10, and then open the Division II, Region 7 tournament Monday, May 13, at third-seeded Columbus Academy. The winner plays sixth-seeded Big Walnut or 11th-seeded Bexley in a quarterfinal May 16 at the home of the better seed. Berlin is seeded 15th.
Softball team begins postseason
The 14th-seeded softball team was 7-14 before opening postseason play May 7 at 13th-seeded Buckeye Valley in the first round of the Division II district tournament.
The winner plays Thursday, May 9, at sixth-seeded Sparta Highland in the second round.
The district semifinal is Tuesday, May 14, at a neutral site against fifth-seeded Gran-ville, 16th-seeded Beechcroft or 18th-seeded Whitehall. The district final is May 17 or 18 at Pickerington Central.
Maia Crumb had a three-run home run and Kirsten Kracht had a double and two singles as the Bears lost to Olentangy 8-3 on May 2. Lexie Lewis added two singles.
Below are the coming schedules for the Berlin baseball, boys tennis and track & field teams:
*May 10 -- At Delaware
May 14 -- Home vs. 18th-seeded Columbus South in first round of Division II district tournament. Winner plays at fifth-seeded Licking Valley in second round May 16. The Bears are seeded 11th.
May 9, 11 -- Division II district tournament at Columbus Academy. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 at Academy and May 18 at Reynoldsburg.
TRACK & FIELD
May 9, 11 -- OCC-Cardinal meet at Hilliard Davidson
May 14-15, 18 -- Division II district meet at Westerville North. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 23 and 25 at Lexington.