Olentangy High School girls lacrosse coach Amy McCormick said one reason for her team's successful season is the partnership between midfielders Maddie Garner and Kenzie Sklar, both four-year varsity players.
"(They) work insanely well together," McCormick said of Garner and Sklar, who combined for 112 goals and 27 assists through 15 games.
Garner and Sklar did not disagree, but Sklar made sure to say leadership has blossomed throughout the entire team. The Braves were 11-4-1 overall before playing Thomas Worthington on May 7.
"We've done really well at being more of a team," said Sklar, a Kent State recruit who had 47 goals and 15 assists through 15 games. "Last year, we were more of a midfielder-led team and I think this year we have had strong leaders on both offense and defense, which is needed. People have to direct all over the field. What's made us so successful is in practice, we focus on ball movement, settling down and doing what we need to do. We've made quick passes very well and then get a strong defensive hold to boost our confidence."
According to Sklar, that ability to play fast is responsible for Olentangy having scored 20 or more goals five times through 16 games and at least 16 goals in four more games. The Braves, who were ranked 13th in the state regardless of division as of May 4 by LaxNumbers.com, averaged 16.3 goals through 16 games.
Garner and Sklar's bond is a result of having been on varsity for the same amount of time as well as playing parts on draw control. Sklar takes the draw, flanked by Garner in the circle.
"We have an unspoken bond. I know where she's going to go and she knows where I'm going to go," said Garner, who will attend Kentucky to study accounting and business. "We work well off each other and we feel like a lot of people feed off of us. We're really just focusing on winning off the draw and creating things from there."
Seniors Evie Bull and Grace Cory, an Otterbein recruit, have been among the leaders on defense in front of senior goalkeeper Abby Derick. Senior Katie Berberick and junior Sydney Semel, who are right- and left-handed, respectively, have helped anchor the attack on either side of the opposing goal.
Derick had 79 saves before May 4 as the Braves allowed an average of 8.9 goals through 16 games.
"I've definitely heard I have a lot of agility with fast feet and fast hands," Derick said. "Just seeing the ball and being one of the loudest voices on the field, being a surveyor, is something I have to do. That's part of my job."
Olentangy dropped its final OCC-Buckeye Division game of the season, 13-11 to Liberty on April 30 to finish 5-2 in the league, third behind New Albany (7-0) and the Patriots (6-1).
The Braves earned the second seed for the 15-team Division I, Region 1 tournament and will play host to 15th-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne in a first-round game Monday, May 13. The winner will play seventh-seeded Delaware or eighth-seeded Orange in the second round May 17.
Boys lacrosse team still has title hopes
Despite suffering its first OCC-Buckeye loss of the season May 10 when it fell 10-7 at Liberty, the boys lacrosse team still has a chance to tie for its second consecutive league championship.
Austin English and Khairi Sears each scored two goals to lead Olentangy, which got 10 saves from Sam McInturf and finished 6-1 in the league. Liberty is 6-0 entering a Friday, May 10, home game against New Albany, and an Eagles win would force a three-way tie for the title.
The Braves are 9-7 overall entering the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11, at Fortress Obetz.
Olentangy was voted the sixth seed out of 18 teams in Division I, Region 1 and will play host to 11th-seeded Dublin Scioto in a second-round game Tuesday, May 14. The winner will face third-seeded Liberty or 14th-seeded Wadsworth in the second round May 17.
Boys tennis team prepares for sectional
The boys tennis team tried to prolong its season this week in both the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district tournament and the Division I sectional tournament.
Olentangy improved to 13-3 overall with a 4-0 win over Marietta in an OTCA district quarterfinal May 6. The Braves will play Delaware, New Albany or Reynoldsburg in a semifinal on a date to be determined.
The Braves will participate in a sectional Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11, at Reynoldsburg, in which the doubles team of Omar Khayat and Sam Routzahn is seeded third. Trevor Gerald and Roshan Sriram are Olentangy's other doubles team.
Jayanth Donthireddy, Tucker Strawser and Ayush Sunkad will play singles.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.
Softball team begins tourney
Brooke Wells' four hits and three RBI led the 25th-seeded softball team to an 8-3 win at 24th-seeded Hamilton Township on May 6 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.
Olentangy improved to 11-14 overall with the win and finished OCC-Buckeye play at 4-6, losing to Westerville Central 9-4 on April 30 and Liberty 11-7 the next day. Payton Cox had a three-run home run against the Warhawks.
Olentangy defeated Berlin 8-3 on May 2 and had at least one regular-season game remaining entering the week, May 7 at Pickerington North.
Olentangy visited fourth-seeded Groveport for a second-round game May 8. The winner will play 13th-seeded Upper Arlington or 22nd-seeded New Albany in a district semifinal Monday, May 13, at a neutral site.
The district final will be May 17 or 18.
Below are the coming schedules for the Olentangy baseball, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 10 -- At Liberty. The Braves lost to the Patriots 3-0 on April 26 and 8-1 on April 29.
May 11 -- Home vs. Gahanna in makeup from April 1
May 13 -- Home vs. 45th-seeded Walnut Ridge in first round of Division I district tournament. Winner visits sixth-seeded Hilliard Darby in second round May 15. The Braves are seeded 19th.
TRACK & FIELD
May 11 -- OCC-Buckeye meet at Hilliard Davidson
May 14, 16, 18 -- Division I, district 1 meet at Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.
May 11 -- Home vs. Massillon Jackson, Mount Vernon and Worthington Kilbourne
May 14 -- OCC Challenge at Darby
May 16 -- At Worthington Kilbourne