Lacrosse: Bexley Lions boys team grew during lost 2020 season

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Junior defender Elliot Goldman and the Bexley boys lacrosse team won their first two games, defeating New Concord John Glenn 10-5 on March 20 and Hilliard Darby 6-5 on March 23. The Lions visit Jonathan Alder on April 1.

The lost season wasn’t that for the Bexley boys lacrosse team.

Although the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 season, Lions coach Mike Bassani used that extra time to prepare a young team for varsity play.

Bexley is still young – 17 of its 31 roster spots are filled by freshmen and sophomores – but it began the season with a pair of victories.

The Lions opened with a 10-5 win over New Concord John Glenn on March 20. Then in a 6-5 victory over Hilliard Darby on March 23, senior midfielder Matt Cohn assisted on junior midfielder Bennett Bartz’s game-winning goal as time expired.

“We were a young team last year and the season got canceled, but that allowed us to press the reset button, work on the culture and get the boys in the weight room,” said Bassani, who ran the Worthington youth program for 20-plus years before replacing 2019 coach Chris Robbins. “We worked on skill and technique as well. We’re in a much better position coming into the year than we were last year because of that time off.”

Goalie Tyler Owens-Terwilliger said the Lions have gone back to basics.

“Coach is working on just getting team unity back after taking a year off and has been tough,”  said Owens-Terwilliger, who is one of two seniors along with Cohn. “More than half of our team really hasn’t played a varsity game. We’re working hard in practice on clears, ground-balls, passes and all of that.”

Other starters have included junior attacker Riley Behl, junior midfielders Colin Ryan and Theo Weinstock, junior defenders Elliot Goldman and Kaelen Mathews, sophomore attackers Brendan Eldridge and Tate Stark and sophomore defender Max Esque.

“Defense is by far the strength of this team,” Bassani said. “We have more age at that level, and a senior goalie that is invaluable. We’re also very young at the offensive end.

“For us, a lot of it is building a system that fits the skills of our kids. It’s a relatively simple system, but we’re trying to get good at a few things. It’s going to take time, though.”

INSIDE THE LIONS

Coach: Mike Bassani, first season 

Next game: April 1, at Jonathan Alder

Key athletes: Bennett Bartz, Matt Cohn, Elliot Goldman and Tyler Owens-Terwilliger

Senior-laden Cardinals

excite first-year coach

St. Charles has 19 seniors on its roster under first-year coach Kyle Andrews, who previously was a longtime assistant with the Cardinals.

“I think it’s a good thing in terms of leadership,” Andrews said. “We have 26 guys on varsity and we have a good break between varsity and j.v. With COVID, we split (the varsity and j.v.) teams completely so that way the j.v. can get good playing time. Game reps are super-important.”

The Cardinals split their first two games, losing to Thomas Worthington 10-9 on March 20 and defeating Pickerington Central 13-8 on March 23.

“Our kids never quit, and they give 100 percent all of the time,” Andrews said. “They’re also close-knit off the field and do a great job of supporting each other.”

Top scoring threats include senior attacker Blake Roller, senior midfielders Tommy Cloran and Henry Mauntel and junior midfielder/attacker Gavin Williams. Junior Matthew Selan also adds to the strength in the midfield.

Senior Jack Lindemann and sophomore Adam Budzik are key defenders, and the goalie is senior Brodie Sullivan.

“This team has high aspirations,” Andrews said. “I like our first two lines, especially in the midfield, and we probably have six or seven guys that can score for us. Brodie is a rock star in goal.

“Right now, we need to work on taking care of the ball. We’ve had a lot of unforced turnovers. We haven’t been clearing the ball well and throwing and catching, but it’s early. We have to focus on the little things.”

INSIDE THE CARDINALS

Coach: Kyle Andrews, first season 

Next game: April 6, at New Albany

Key athletes: Adam Budzik, Tommy Cloran, Jack Lindemann, Henry Mauntel, Blake Roller, Matthew Selan, Brodie Sullivan and Gavin Williams

Columbus School for Girls' Elizabeth Burgess (left) works against Marysville's Emma Swart during a scrimmage March 17. Burgess is one of several freshmen expected to contribute for the Unicorns.

Unicorns have

defensive mindset

Columbus School for Girls has a 27-player roster with just three seniors.

One senior is defender Leah Giller, who moved from the midfield, and another is goalie Via Barry-Wilson, who has started since she was a freshman. The third senior is defender Charlotte Love, who took up the sport after her family moved to central Ohio from England.

“Leah has become more of a vocal leader since she moved back on defense and has stepped up along with Via to lead the team,” second-year coach Samantha Arey said. “Charlotte doesn’t have as large of a role on the field but she’s more a vocal leader, especially at practice.”

The Unicorns are running a defense that took much of the preseason to master.

“We’ve been working on our defense,” Arey said. “We’re running a college-level defense. They’re picking it up, but they need to overcome the notion of defense meaning ‘find a man and then you stick with them.’ We’re doing more than that.”

Junior midfielder Cynthia Alexander and sophomore attacker Annie Wagenbrenner are top scoring threats along with several freshmen in midfielders Cynthia Alexander, Elizabeth Burgess and Mia Donaldson and attacker Morgan Halpern, the team’s only left-hander.

Freshmen expected to contribute on defense are Eliana Cain and Muriel Wallace, who also plays in the midfield.

“We have a lot of good, talented freshmen that we expect to contribute this season,” Arey said. “Our draws have looked good in the first couple of scrimmages and we’ve been finishing shots, so we have a high shooting percentage.”

INSIDE THE UNICORNS

Coach: Samantha Arey, second season 

Opener: April 1, at Olentangy Berlin

Key athletes: Cynthia Alexander, Via Barry-Wilson, Elizabeth Burgess, Leah Giller and Morgan Halpern

Lions girls to make

speed an asset

First-year coach Jackie Lund is impressed by the quickness of her Bexley girls squad and likes the options that speed affords her.

“We have a very fast team and a very flexible team,” said Lund, a Latin and history teacher at Bexley who previously was an assistant coach for one season at Charlottesville (Virginia) Albemarle. “I told them that they have to be comfortable at playing all positions. We have some fast midfielders, but I feel that I could put anyone in the starting lineup at any position. We have some flexibility there.”

The Lions had part of their 2020 preseason before the pandemic shut things down. Players who were slated to start were juniors Molly Esque (goalie), Grace Heilman (midfielder), Lillian Hoyer (attacker), Rachel Kelly (defender) and Emma Magee (midfielder/attacker) and sophomore midfielder Mikayla Williams.

“We’re working on team communication and setting the pace for ourselves,” Lund said. “After last year, everyone is so eager to score goals and rock it out a bit. We need to be slowing down and working and strategic positioning and learning to play off our strengths.”

The Lions won their opener at Hilliard Davidson 14-7 on March 23. Williams scored six goals, Heilman had four and Hoyer and Magee both scored twice. Esque had 18 saves.

“The girls played a great game,” Lund said. “Their energy was high throughout the game.”

INSIDE THE LIONS

Coach: Jackie Lund, first season 

Next game: April 1, at Hilliard Bradley

Key athletes: Molly Esque, Grace Heilman, Lillian Hoyer, Rachel Kelly, Emma Magee and Mikayla Williams

shennen@thisweeknews.com

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