After playing through 80 minutes of heavy rain, the heaviest downpour of the day couldn't wash the smiles off the faces of Westerville North girls soccer players as they accepted their Division I district championship awards.
The fourth-seeded Warriors defeated 10th-seeded Hilliard Bradley 1-0 on Oct. 26 at Olentangy Orange to capture their first district title since 2007.
"We really worked our butts off to get here and it really showed," said senior goalkeeper Abby Markley, whose team improved to 15-3-1. "It's been like 12 years since we have won it, but we're back up there again. It's awesome."
The Warriors came close last season, losing to Watterson 3-0 in a district final.
"It still hasn't hit me that we actually (won a district championship)," said coach Ricky Konkolewski, whose team outscored its first three postseason opponents 19-0. "We set this goal after last year. Everyone has that goal, but it's pretty bold to set a goal that high when you had a (9-10-1 record) last year. But we did, and we thought we could do it."
The Warriors advanced to a regional semifinal against eighth-ranked Dublin Coffman on Oct. 29, with the winner playing Orange or Marysville in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a neutral site. North lost to Orange 1-0 on Oct. 10 in an OCC-Buckeye Division contest.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 5, at a neutral site against top-ranked Beavercreek, fourth-ranked West Chester Lakota West, Cincinnati Seton or Loveland.
Against Bradley, Allie Balasico scored with 22 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half.
"We knew they would be focusing on (Alison) Rothmann and (Makayla) Parry, and that's why I kept that side wide open. That left Allie out there (to score)," Konkolewski said. "(The Jaguars) moved (Delaney Porter) over there to have more speed on Rothmann on the left side and that left Allie Balasico on the right side. Allie is normally on the back line, but she's just as fast as anyone up front. We thought she might get some opportunities, and she did."
Markley had five saves for North, which had 13 shutouts entering the regional semifinal, including three in district play. The Warriors had shutouts in five of their previous six games and had surrendered just two goals in their past eight contests.
"You have to be disciplined and communicate (defensively)," Markley said. "We all need to be on the same page and everyone has been doing what they are supposed to do."
Parry scored one goal and had two assists as the host Warriors defeated 11th-seeded Grove City 4-0 on Oct. 23 in a district semifinal. Hannah Cripe, Rothmann and Alyssa Wright also scored.
Cross country season ends at regional
The cross country season ended for North in the Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Sophomore Paige Miracle competed as an individual for the girls team, placing 45th in 20:15.8. Hilliard Darby's Daniella Santos won in 17:48.7 and Marysville's Bryn Hothem (19:20.5) was the 20th and final individual qualifier to state Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
Junior Isaiah Hutcherson raced as an individual for the boys, finishing 83rd in 17:30.3. Pickerington North's Matt Duvall won in 15:33.8 and Lancaster's Orion Thress (16:32.4) was 20th for the final state-qualifying spot.
The girls team finished fourth (118) in the OCC-Buckeye meet Oct. 12 at Hilliard Davidson behind champion Olentangy Liberty (38), and the boys were sixth (152) behind champion Orange (32).