New Albany Roundup: Eagles girls golf team focused on third straight state title

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
New Albany's Anna Coccia shot a 74 to help the Eagles capture their third consecutive Division I district title Oct. 13 at New Albany Links. The girls golf team will go for its third state title in a row Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, at Ohio State’s Gray Course.

New Albany's Anna Coccia made no secret of the Eagles' top goal at the Division I district girls golf tournament Oct. 13 at New Albany Links.

They wanted to break the event record they set two years ago, an accomplishment that would earn them a third consecutive title and put them two rounds away from a third state championship in a row.

New Albany took care of the first part, shooting a 294 to beat the previous mark of 298 set at Cooks Creek. Now the focus turns to state Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, at Ohio State’s Gray Course.

“That was something we definitely cared about,” Coccia said. “This is the best we’ve played together this year.”

Coccia shot 74 out of the fifth spot, starting her day with a birdie, two pars and an eagle as the Eagles defeated runner-up Dublin Coffman by 28 shots as 12 teams scored. The top two teams and two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state. 

Anna Ritter tied Coffman’s Ellie Lim for medalist with a 72, followed by Kary Hollenbaugh (73), Coccia and Madison Spiess (75). Emerson Purcell shot a 79.

Ritter and her father, coach Rich Ritter, agreed that the Eagles are hitting their stride after a regular season in which players occasionally participated in outside tournaments and Coffman handed them their first loss since 2017. The Shamrocks edged the Eagles by three shots in the third round of the OCC-Central Division tournament but did not stop New Albany from winning the league championship.

“Every year is a different challenge,” said Anna Ritter, who was the state medalist last year. “We’ve had ups and downs, and we just tried to come back from those. We’re using any adversity as learning opportunities to be where we are now, but it felt good (to win district), just like the other years.

“Early in the season, we struggled a little bit. We knew we still needed to be practicing and putting in the work. We’ve been doing more team practices than in the past, dedicated to short game and things. It’s helped us with our confidence.”

As in each of the previous two years, New Albany had the best qualifying score of all state-bound teams. Centerville is next with a 310, followed by Louisville and Mason at 316.

The Eagles set tournament records last year for single-round score (282), two-day score (571). The 282 broke the mark of 289 they set a day earlier.

“We looked at this as anything that happens with the team is a bonus,” coach Ritter said, referring to the uncertainty surrounding the season because the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. “To get to this point in the season, we feel fortunate to do that. I felt pretty calm going into district, and we started off this round like we’ve played the past few.”

New Albany's Kelis Brown kicks the ball while Dublin Coffman's Tara Flynn defends Sept. 1. The girls soccer team wrapped up the OCC-Ohio Division title by going 5-0 and are seeded first for the Division I district tournament.

Soccer teams sweep league titles

The boys and girls soccer teams hoped OCC-Ohio Division championships were just the first prize they earned this month.

Both teams finished 5-0 in their first season in the league, clinching outright championships Oct. 13 as the boys defeated Westerville Central 2-0 and the girls topped the Warhawks 5-0.

The girls team, which was ranked third in last week's Division I state poll, is the top seed in the district tournament. After a first-round bye, the Eagles will play host to 34th-seeded Mount Vernon or 35th-seeded Westerville South Saturday, Oct. 24.

“We’re champing at the bit to get to the postseason,” said girls coach Jared Dombrowski, whose team is 14-1-1. “We’ll have had 11 days (between the final regular-season game and tournament opener) and that was a tough decision to make, but we’ve had some players get dinged up and it’ll be good to have a little break, refocus and work on ourselves a little bit.

“The OCC-Ohio is such a soccer conference. We talked before the season about being the new kids in the conference and making a good showing, and both of us (the girls and boys teams) did.”

The second-round winner will play 20th-seeded Pickerington Central or 21st-seeded Watkins Memorial in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the home of the better seed. That winner will advance to a district final Oct. 31.

New Albany defeated Pickerington Central 8-2 on Sept. 8.

The boys team, which was 11-3 before playing Reynoldsburg on Oct. 15, is seeded second in the district and will play host to 33rd-seeded Delaware or 35th-seeded Logan in the second round Thursday, Oct. 22. The winner will face 24th-seeded Hilliard Bradley or 30th-seeded Marysville in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 27, at the home of the better seed. That winner will advance to a district final Oct. 31.

New Albany defeated Bradley 2-1 on Sept. 3.

Tennis players fall short at district

Singles player Paige Cornelius and the doubles team of Helen Wang and Demi Shostak fell one win short of advancing to the Division I state tournament from district Oct. 15 at Reynoldsburg, bringing the Eagles' season to an end.

Shostak and Wang went 1-1, defeating Gahanna's Caroline Mattox and Frankie Nuss 6-3, 6-0 before losing to Upper Arlington's Megan Basil and Ella Hazelbaker 6-0, 6-1.

Cornelius outlasted Lancaster's Mallory Thomas 6-7 (6), 6-2, 6-2 and lost to Dublin Coffman's Dasha Chistyakova 6-0, 6-1.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

Also competing but failing to advance was singles player Madison Spiess (0-1).

In a sectional that concluded Oct. 10 at Reynoldsburg, Cornelius finished second and Spiess was fourth in singles. Shostak and Wang were third.

Boys golf season ends at district

Junior Jackson Fry shot a 78 to lead the boys golf team to a team score of 324 in the Division I district tournament Oct. 13 at Apple Valley, tying the Eagles for 10th place with Pickerington Central and Pickerington North behind champion Olentangy Orange (298) as 12 teams scored.

The top two teams and two individuals on qualifying teams advanced to state Friday, Oct. 23, and Saturday, Oct. 24, at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.

Senior Jayson Beckner shot an 80, followed by seniors Victor Appell and Zach Blaney with rounds of 78. Junior Gibson Dain added an 86.

Also eligible to return is sophomore Andrew Ferinni, who saw time with the top five this year and shot an 84 at sectional Oct. 7 at Denison Golf Club at Granville.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

BOYS GOLF

OCC-Ohio standings: Westerville Central (17-3), Grove City (15-5), New Albany (11-9), Pickerington North (9-11), Gahanna (8-12), Westland (0-20)

Seniors lost: Victor Appell, Jayson Beckner and Zach Blaney

Key returnees: Gibson Dain, Andrew Ferinni and Jackson Fry

Postseason: Fourth (324) at sectional behind champion Dublin Jerome (324); tied for 10th (324) at district behind champion Olentangy Orange (298)