STATE CHAMPIONS

It hasn't happened often this season, but the Upper Arlington High School girls lacrosse team found itself in some peril during the second half of the Division I state final June 1 at Ohio Wesleyan.

The Golden Bears led New Albany by five goals late in the first half but only 11-10 with less than eight minutes left and managed just one shot the rest of the game.

That shot, an insurance goal by Ava Walters with 3:39 left that came after UA burned more than three minutes off the clock, spoke for itself in terms of importance. But the defensive play made by Jamie Stummer shortly after that ultimately loomed just as large in a 12-10 win.

Stummer forced a turnover with 1:43 remaining, and UA maintained possession the rest of the way to capture its fifth consecutive title and 10th overall.

"That was just a situation where we had to do everything we could to just crash and get to the ball and get it back," Stummer said. "They just came out stronger (in the second half). They played much better and gave us some problems. They had more chances and our defense had to play smarter and not give up as much shooting space."

Three goals from Sophie Ballou and two goals from Camryn Callaghan and Riley Kuehn -- who also had two assists -- paced UA to its ninth win in a row over New Albany dating to the 2011 season. The defense held the Eagles without a shot over the game's final six minutes.

The Bears' previous two state final victories had come by a combined 15 goals, 11-5 over New Albany last year and 15-6 over Massillon Jackson in 2017.

"We expected (New Albany) to come out really, really hard. It was close the last time we played (a 11-8 win on April 20), so we figured (a run) was coming," Ballou said.

"We came out as strong as possible. We knew what was on the line and we figured out a way."

Ballou and Stummer were among five senior starters for UA, which finished 20-2-2 despite returning just three starters from a year ago. The Bears went 10-0-1 in their final 11 games, dating to a 10-5 loss to Wilmette (Illinois) Loyola Academy on April 27.

The tie was against Cincinnati Sycamore, 15-all on May 3. UA won that rematch decisively, 18-9 in a state semifinal May 29 at Beavercreek as Callaghan scored four goals, Ellena Schildmeyer and Walters each scored twice and Kuehn added three assists.

Ballou finished with 94 goals, setting the program's new single-season record, and a team-high 102 points.

According to coach Wendy Pinta, uncertainty was part of the reason UA attempted to burn so much time off the clock in the final before trying for an insurance goal.

"We weren't really sure what plays we wanted to run based on the defense they were showing," Pinta said. "I wasn't comfortable with the defensive looks we were getting, so we tried to pull the ball out a little bit and they took advantage of us kind of falling asleep on attack. (The second half) was a lot more frantic than the first half for us."

Emily Rezabek had four goals to lead New Albany. Julia Corna led UA's defensive effort against the Ohio State recruit.

"We tended to double quickly, especially on (Rezabek), so we knew what she liked to do, how they like to draw and dump," Stummer said. "We helped a lot and that was huge."

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