Upper Arlington boys water polo coach J.J. Spangler praised his team for sticking to its game plan throughout the state tournament last weekend, although the Golden Bears fell just short of their first championship since 2012.

Fourth-seeded UA lost to top-seeded St. Charles 9-8 in the state final Oct. 26 at Mason to finish 25-14.

Junior Thomas Ray scored three goals, junior Jimmy Colombo added two and seniors Hunter Dean and Antonio Ventresca and junior Avery Voss each scored one for the Bears, who led 5-2 at halftime but trailed 8-6 after three quarters and did not lead in the fourth quarter.

The Cardinals took a 9-7 lead in the final two minutes and Voss tipped in a shot with 13 seconds left to make it a one-goal game, but UA was unable to get the ball back.

"St. Charles started pressing us really hard (in the third quarter) and we had trouble passing and getting our offense together. That caused some turnovers and they took advantage," Spangler said. "It was awesome to have an all-Columbus final. We had a feeling when we looked at the bracket that it could end up that way. The game is progressing so much in central Ohio and developing that it's great to see us represented in the final and get a state title."

The state final featured two central Ohio teams for the second time in three years. In 2017, Thomas Worthington defeated St. Charles 15-13 for the championship.

On the first day of the tournament Oct. 25 at Cincinnati Princeton, UA defeated 12th-seeded Sylvania 23-5 in a first-round game and seventh-seeded Toledo St. Francis 10-6 in the second round.

The Bears beat second-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier 11-6 in a semifinal Oct. 26 at Mason behind four goals from Voss, three from Ray and two from Colombo.

"This weekend was pretty much what we expected and hoped for," Spangler said. "We wanted to make sure we stuck to our game plan and we did. We did a good job of preparing before every game. This was just a great team all year. Everyone really contributed. We took a little break from our morning conditioning late in the year, tapering off a bit to let the guys gather some more energy, and I think that worked (last weekend).

"Everybody stepped up. We were really focused mentally. They executed what we talked about."

UA had finished third at state last year and fifth in both 2017 and 2016.

Other players eligible to return include juniors Jackson Gooding and Hayden Jay and sophomore Garrett Widman. Gooding was backup goalkeeper behind senior Trevor Westin.

Boys soccer team loses in district final

The boys soccer team's run to its first Division I district final appearance since 2008 ended Oct. 26 with a 1-0 double-overtime loss to second-seeded Olentangy Liberty at Marysville.

Junior goalie Mac Scholl made eight saves for 11th-seeded UA, which finished 13-5-2 and had not allowed a goal in three postseason games before the district final.

Liberty's Luke Sensky took a free kick from 30 yards out that went off Scholl's fingertips and into the back of the net.

"We told the guys every game would be a dogfight," coach Kevin Donovan said. "We didn't concede much. We just wanted to get quality chances and convert those. Liberty (was) probably the better team and we just (wanted) to have the better match. They give us so much to defend. All we could do was plan accordingly."

UA advanced by defeating visiting and 24th-seeded Gahanna 2-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 22.

Senior forward Anthony Reisman and junior midfielder Sergio Ly each scored and Scholl made two saves.

Senior midfielder Joe Cannon led UA with 14 goals, followed by Reisman and junior forward/midfielder Perry Stevenson with eight apiece. Junior forward Alex Woods scored five goals.

Runners end season at regional meet

The boys cross country team fell short of its first Division I state appearance since 2004, as it finished 12th (252 points) at regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North behind champion Gahanna (100) as 16 teams scored.

The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.

Scoring for the Bears were junior Charlie Nowinski (26th, 16:40.3), senior Liam Gillespie (55th, 17:06.4), junior Payton Domagalski (56th, 17:07.6) and sophomores Alex Nicol (74th, 17:21.7) and Ryan Card (88th, 17:33.8).

Sophomore Nathan Mark also is eligible to return from UA's top seven.

The girls team expects to return four of its six competitors from the district 2 meet Oct. 19 at Hilliard Darby in juniors Cameron Ellis, Elizabeth Lembach and Lyda Schoedinger and sophomore Megan Kiehl.

The Bears' season ended with a 10th-place finish at district (242) behind champion Thomas (71) as 14 teams scored.

Volleyball coach encouraged for 2020

With only two seniors on his roster, girls volleyball coach Chris Van Arsdale hopes his expected returnees learn from a tough stretch to end the season in order to compete in what could be an imposing league next year.

Seeded 17th in the 49-team Division I district tournament, UA lost to visiting and 19th-seeded Lancaster 25-18, 25-19, 25-22 in a second-round match Oct. 17 to finish 12-11 overall.

The Bears went 8-2 in the OCC-Central to finish second behind Coffman (10-0).

Sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Jenna Harold led UA with 259 kills, ahead of junior middle hitter Erin Murphy (178) and freshman middle hitter/outside hitter Lilian Entenmann (131).

Entenmann led the Bears in blocks with 64.

Harold was second on the team in digs with 184 to junior libero/defensive specialist Hannah Sprouse's 250.

"They played very well, they worked tremendously hard and got better every week," Van Arsdale said. "I think some of our best play was at the end, when we had a run of tough opponents. We took a set from Gahanna, and actually had a call reversed that would have given us two sets and pushed it into a fifth set (of a 25-14, 23-25, 25-15, 27-25 loss on Oct. 1). We took a set off of (Hilliard) Bradley (in a 20-25, 25-11, 25-21, 25-16 loss Oct. 7) and took Grove City to five (games in a 25-16, 25-27, 24-26, 25-14, 15-10 loss Oct. 9). That is a lot of fight in that last week of the season."

As part of OCC realignment taking effect next fall, the OCC-Central replaces Central Crossing, Marysville and Westland with Bradley, Liberty and Olentangy Orange. Orange and Liberty were the first and third seeds, respectively, in this year's district tournament.

Field hockey coach applauds growth

The field hockey team never won more than two consecutive games during what coach Sara Greaves called a "rebuilding year," but she said skills and the team dynamic showed considerable improvement as the Bears went 8-8-1 overall and 5-2-1 in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-West.

Seeded seventh in the 18-team district tournament, UA lost 1-0 in overtime at home to eighth-seeded Orange in a second-round game Oct. 17.

"We lost ... our entire defense (from 2018). We didn't have many returning varsity players who were defenders or could play that position well, so we struggled early on," Greaves said. "Because we were inexperienced, we would feel defeated when we were behind on the scoreboard. We spent a lot of time focusing on how to overcome adversity in practice, as well as principals for sound defense, and we saw that help us in the latter half of the season.

"By the end of the season, I felt like this was the best team dynamic we've had in terms of connecting with each other on the field and finding unique, but critical, roles for each player."

UA, which finished fourth in the COFHL-West behind champion Thomas (8-0), expects to return several key players next season, including juniors Paris Alexander (forward/midfielder), Elizabeth Cramer (defender) and Katie Webber (forward) and freshman Emily Barker (midfielder).

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@ThisWeekDave