For Columbus Academy head of school Melissa Soderberg and athletics director Jason Singleton, following three teams across central Ohio on Nov. 2 was a perfect way to spend a brisk fall day.
Soderberg and Singleton first watched the field hockey team win its second consecutive state championship and 12th overall with a 1-0 win over Shaker Heights at Upper Arlington. They presented the players and coaches with their individual awards.
Both then drove about 80 miles to Coshocton to watch the boys and girls soccer teams capture regional titles.
The boys team earned its first state tournament berth since 1995 with a 2-0 win over Millersburg West Holmes in a Division II regional final.
The girls team won its first regional title with a 2-0 win over Zanesville Rosecrans in a Division III final.
Field hockey team caps memorable season
Junior midfielder Regan Cornelius and senior goalkeeper Alex Phelps helped lead the field hockey team to its latest state title.
Cornelius scored the championship game's lone goal on a penalty stroke with 26 minutes, 12 seconds remaining in the first half and Phelps preserved the title by making key saves in the closing minutes. She finished with five saves to complete the team's 20th shutout of the season.
"This was our toughest game of the year," Phelps said. "Shaker has some great players. Practicing with these girls just builds me up so I can take these shots. I don't feel pressure. I'm just really excited right now. ... It's an honor to have this (state championship) trophy in my arms right now."
Shaker Heights had 13 penalty corners to none for Academy.
"Shaker Heights was good," said coach Anne Horton, whose team also defeated the Raiders 2-0 on Sept. 13. "I knew they were good. Luckily, we were able to capitalize at the beginning and hold on for dear life."
Horton pointed to the strong play of junior defender Suzy L'Hommedieu as another key to the win as she was assigned to guard Shaker Heights' top player, Lora Clarke.
"She could never really generate much for them," Horton said. "That really kept them from doing more than what they did. Between Alex and Suzy and the rest of the team just fighting for their lives is what made the difference."
Cornelius began her day by competing in the Division II state cross country meet at National Trail Raceway. She arrived at UA just before the start of the state title contest.
"This is so exciting, especially since we lost a lot of key players (from last) year," Cornelius said of the state title. "Everyone was able to step up. We had a great season."
Academy advanced to the title game with a 6-0 win over Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame in a state semifinal Oct. 31 at UA. Senior midfielder Kiersten Thomassey and sophomore midfielder Carolyn Vaziri scored first-half goals, and Thomassey and senior attacker Abby Yakam scored in a span of 1:35 early in the second half for a 4-0 lead.
Junior attackers Charlotte Adams and Sarah Klingerman rounded out the scoring.
Academy outscored its opponents 108-2 while going 20-0-1 overall and 8-0 in the COFHL-East Division. The Vikings played Thomas Worthington to a scoreless tie Sept. 23.
Others expected to return include juniors Amelia Bruggeman (attacker), Ashley Reynolds (attacker) and Sarah Silver (goalie), sophomores Mya Falkenhain (midfielder), Avery Mitchell (attacker) and Maya Walter (defender) and freshmen Maren Lawrence (attacker) and Adeti Mohanselvan (attacker).
Boys soccer team wins regional title
The boys soccer team advanced to state with an impressive effort against West Holmes.
Freshman Leo Kass opened the scoring with about 18 minutes remaining in the first half on an assist from Sam Massick.
"We came out hard and had some chances," Kass said. "It was great to put one in before the half."
Massick added an insurance goal with 34:30 remaining off an assist from Blake Chiovaro.
Goalie Luke Budzik had two saves.
"We did what we needed to do," coach Ron Leach said. "Leo had a great game. He had that first goal and Sam got loose the second time and knocked the second goal in."
It was the team's first regional title since 1995, when it went on to defeat Richfield Revere 3-2 in the Division II state championship game.
"We've won nine district titles and this is the first time we've been able to advance in the regional," Leach said of his 15-year tenure at Academy. "That's been an issue. A lot of it, obviously, is who you play and how the seeding goes. This was a nice hurdle for us to overcome."
The Vikings were 13-3-5 before playing Tipp City Tippecanoe in a state semifinal Nov. 6. The winner plays Warren Howland or Lexington in the state final Sunday, Nov. 10, at Mapfre Stadium.
Academy advanced to the regional final with a 2-1 win over Bexley in a semifinal Oct. 30 at Westerville Central. Massick scored both goals, including the game-winner with 2:24 remaining, and Budzik had three saves.
Academy and Bexley tied at 1 in an MSL-Ohio game Sept. 7.
Girls soccer team makes history
In its 17th season, the girls soccer team earned its first regional title by defeating MSL-Ohio rival Rosecrans.
Annalise Grammel and Emma Belford scored first-half goals, and goalie Sophie Spolter had four saves.
"I'm super proud of our team," Grammel said. "We've come such a long way over the season. We all work together and it definitely feels like we're a family, so I'm extremely proud of all the girls and all the hard work we've done."
The Vikings also defeated the Bishops 1-0 on Sept. 14.
"I'm not surprised," Academy coach Matt Thompson said. "I'm thrilled. They have continued to battle and bought into each other. It's been a nice run."
The Vikings were 16-3-2 before playing Cincinnati Country Day in a state semifinal Nov. 5. The winner plays Kirtland or Findlay Liberty-Benton in the state final Saturday, Nov. 9, at Mapfre Stadium.
Academy reached the regional final with a 1-0 win over Lynchburg-Clay in a semifinal Oct. 29 at Chillicothe. Aniah Crockett scored off an assist from Grammel with 31:28 remaining, and Spolter had three saves.
Runners compete at state meet
Luke Nester, Cornelius and Grammel represented the cross country program in the Division II state meet.
In the girls race, Cornelius finished 69th (20:03.7) and Grammel was 90th (20:14.4) of 176 runners.
"I'm happy, especially moving (from Division III) to D-II," Cornelius said. "It was a great experience being able to run."
Nester was the boys team's lone representative, finishing 107th of 182 runners in 17:20. He said he was in good position early in the race before being tripped twice.
"My goal was to get top 15," he said. "I started out well. I was in 16th at the mile. In the woods I got tripped up and fell, but got right back up. I actually got tripped again outside of the woods, but this time I was in a lot of pain and stayed on the ground for a solid 20, 30 seconds. I got back up and kept going and ended 107th.
"I'm not happy with how the day went. Now I have some good motivation for the winter and spring."