Given that his team did not return any starters from last season, Upper Arlington High School boys lacrosse coach Kyle Olson was not sure a star would emerge this year.
That has proven to be the case, as three players have at least 20 goals and eight have scored in double digits. While it might not be the method Olson is used to, he hopes such variety will help the Golden Bears as they prepare for the Division I, Region 3 tournament.
"It's been a change of pace not having one or two guys where every game you know it's going to have to be those two guys producing," Olson said. "One game, A.J. Borders has a hat trick. One game, Nathan Junk has a hat trick. Any number of guys can have three points or two goals. They're taking what's given to them. Luke Tzagournis had a hat trick in Kentucky (in a 10-9 win at Louisville St. Xavier on April 27) after being hurt for a while. We have as many as 10 guys stepping up on offense and a ton of guys we can trust defensively."
Led by Anthony Pardi's 24 goals, UA is 12-4 overall entering the Midwest Scholastic Lacrosse Coaches Association tournament Friday, May 10, and Saturday, May 11, at Fortress Obetz. The Bears open the event against Cincinnati St. Xavier.
Junk and A.J. Achatz have 23 and 22 goals, respectively. They are closely followed by Jack Mason (18), Sam Campbell (16), A.J. Borders (14) and Cooper Ellis and Tzagournis, both of whom have 11.
Ten players have scored three or more goals in a game at least once this season.
"It showed during the summer. We knew right away that everybody was going to help out, that we had eight-plus guys who were going to score and contribute during the season," Mason said. "It's helped us a lot spreading the production. It makes it harder for opposing defenses to figure us out. We have a lot of guys who fill fairly similar roles, but we have a bunch of good dodgers and a lot of good feeders. Everybody has their own plusses and minuses."
UA enters the weekend having played a rigorous schedule the past few weeks.
St. Xavier was ranked first in Kentucky as of May 4 by LaxN-umbers.com. The Bears lost to Ohio's top-ranked team, Dublin Coffman, 16-5 at Wellington on May 1 in a game that decided the OCC-Central Division championship, and then fell to Bloomfield Hills (Michigan) Brother Rice, that state's top-ranked team, 10-4 at Wellington two nights later.
On March 31, the Bears lost to St. Louis Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School (MICDS), the top-ranked team in Missouri, 10-6 at Indianapolis Cathedral.
UA was ranked 10th in the state regardless of division entering the week.
"We had to figure out how to work our schedule around what the OCC mandates," said Olson, whose team went 6-1 in the league to finish second behind Coffman (7-0). "We pepper in a Culver (Academies from Culver, Indiana), an MICDS, Brother Rice, the best teams in their respective states around our league schedule. We really are seeing what we're made out of."
UA is the top seed in the 18-team Division I, Region 3 tournament and will play 14th-seeded Kettering Fairmont in a first-round game Tuesday, May 14, at Wellington. The winner plays 10th-seeded Miamisburg or 11th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a regional quarterfinal May 17.
"We know what we need to fix and become the team we should be and know we can be," long-stick midfielder Sean Byrne said. "The chemistry has grown more and more during the season. We lost the Culver game by a substantial margin (15-6 on April 20 at Ohio State), but when we watched film, we didn't really commit many errors. It was a very solid game. We just played an extremely good team and we can learn from that."
Baseball team wins league title
The baseball team clinched its first league championship since 2003 on May 6, defeating Westland 15-2 in five innings to improve to 15-7 overall and 12-0 in the OCC-Central.
UA put the game away with nine runs in the fourth inning and led Coffman and Marysville by four games with three to play before the Bears played Hilliard Davidson on May 7.
The Bears are scheduled to finish league play Friday, May 10, at Coffman, which was in third place at 7-4 before May 6.
UA remained unbeaten in the league last week by sweeping two games from the Shamrocks, 9-3 on April 29 and 5-4 the next day, and run-ruling Central Crossing 12-1 in five innings on May 1.
Charlie Fleming went 3-for-3 against the Comets and pitched a two-hitter May 4 in a 4-1 win over Watterson at Ohio State. He struck out seven and also had two RBI and two stolen bases.
The Bears are seeded seventh in the 48-team Division I district tournament and took a first-round bye. They will play 24th-seeded Whetstone or 29th-seeded Westerville South in the second round Wednesday, May 15, at Tremont Elementary, with that winner advancing to a district semifinal May 20.
Girls lacrosse team clinches league title
The girls lacrosse team clinched its eighth consecutive league championship April 30 with a 17-2 win at Coffman, finishing 6-0 in OCC-Central play and outscoring its league opponents 108-12.
Sophie Ballou and Annie Hargraves each scored four goals and Camryn Callaghan scored three against the Shamrocks, and UA's defense held Coffman to just three shots on goal.
The Bears were 12-2-2 overall before playing Dublin Jerome on May 7 and will finish the regular season Saturday, May 11, against Rockford (Michigan) at Tremont Elementary.
UA tied host Cincinnati Sycamore at 15 on May 3 as Ballou scored eight goals and the Bears erased a four-goal deficit midway through the second half.
The Bears have won 42 consecutive games in league play dating to the 2011 season. Their last league loss was against New Albany, 12-11 in overtime on April 19, 2011.
UA is the top seed in the 17-team Division I, Region 3 tournament and will play 11th-seeded Miamisburg or 15th-seeded Marysville in the first round Tuesday, May 14, at Tremont Elementary. The winner plays ninth-seeded Centerville or 10th-seeded Hilliard Darby in a regional quarterfinal May 17.
The Bears defeated the Monarchs 20-1 on April 9.
Softball team opens postseason
The 13th-seeded softball team was 14-9 overall before playing 22nd-seeded New Albany in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 8 at Tremont Elementary.
The winner plays fourth-seeded Groveport or 25th-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal Monday, May 13, at a neutral site. That winner advances to a district final May 17 or 18 at Pickerington Central.
UA went 7-3 in the OCC-Central, losing its final two league games to Marysville, 7-5 on April 29, and Coffman, 13-2 in five innings on May 1, to tie the Shamrocks for second place behind the Monarchs (9-1).
Jess Hogan hit a solo home run against Coffman, which blew the game open with eight runs in the second inning and added three runs in the fifth.
Boys tennis team set for sectional
The boys tennis team is set to play host to a Division I sectional Thursday, May 9, and Saturday, May 11.
UA fell to 11-8 overall with a 3-1 loss to Jerome in an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district semifinal May 6. The Bears did not have any more regular-season matches scheduled.
At sectional, Paige Kompa and Will Reynolds are the top-seeded doubles team, and teammates Emerson Dean and Nathan Yu are seeded second. Nick Gruss, Lance Li and Hunter Triplett will play singles.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district May 16 and 18 at Reynoldsburg.
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington crew, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
May 11 -- Midwest Scholastic Rowing Championship at Dillon Lake
TRACK & FIELD
May 9, 11 -- OCC-Central meet at Hilliard Davidson
May 14, 15, 18 -- Boys: Division I, district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby. The top four finishers in each event advance to regional May 22 and 24 at Pickerington North.
May 14, 16, 18 -- Girls: 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 14 -- OCC Challenge at Darby