New Albany Roundup: Eagles girls lacrosse team learning to do more

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Mary Carson has been one of the top scorers for New Albany, which won six of its first eight games. The Eagles were ranked seventh in the state and fourth in the area by LaxRankings.com as of April 20.

The New Albany girls lacrosse team’s 6-2 start gave coach Elaina Enich the opportunity to impart a favored lesson with her team.

Several underclassmen have played prominent roles early for the Eagles, with sophomore Abby Cole and freshmen Ellie McClelland and Maddy Paz combining for 32 of the team’s 94 goals through seven games.

Still, Enich is trying to drive home the principles of never being satisfied and that plays not seen in the scorebook or perhaps even from the stands can make an immeasurable impact.

“That’s one thing we have been seeing, having those leadership opportunities and girls stepping up,” Enich said. “We knew who was coming up in those classes. They have to keep pushing to be better and breaking through that ceiling of being consistent and winning games now, but how do we become great? They have to think like ‘I scored five goals, but what else can I do for the team?’ That’s how you break that ceiling and any barriers.

“Since we are so young, it’s a matter of feeling it out. We need to communicate (expectations) and remind them it’s not only about goals, assists and caused turnovers, it’s about what else we can be doing on the back side to help the other girls facilitate on the offense and defense. It’s a reminder to think outside the box and breaking the glass ceiling of preconceived notion of what we can or should be able to do.”

Cole had a team-leading 19 goals through seven games, ahead of Mary Carson’s 12 and 11 each from Bridget Driscoll and Katie Kaucheck. New Albany’s early losses were to Hudson, 11-7 on March 26, and Upper Arlington, 7-3 on April 15 in a rematch of the past two Division I state finals.

New Albany shut out UA in the second half after trailing by six goals at halftime and held the Golden Bears to less than half of their 16.5 goals-per-game average entering that night.

Cole, Driscoll and Paz have seen time on draws.

“Being able to control the ball and knowing when to feed the ball has been a big key for us since (the Hudson loss),” said Driscoll, a midfielder and DePauw recruit. “We work on our transition a lot in practice and we have some speedy attackers who get back on the ride and help either cause a turnover or give the defense time to get back. The defense has been really strong, too. Their stick skills are amazing. They’re able to get the ball up to the midfielders and then up to the attack to score.”

New Albany was ranked seventh in the state and fourth in the area by LaxRankings.com as of April 20.

“I see a lot of us focusing on the ground balls and transition, the parts of the game that are often overlooked (in favor of) the assists or goals,” Carson said. “It goes to show New Albany is a program where we never really lose talent coming up. It’s great to see younger girls stepping up and taking their roles seriously.”

Andrew Rakocy and New Albany won nine of their first 11 matches. The nine victories surpassed the Eagles' win total from their previous two seasons combined.

Volleyball team bolts

to program-best mark

Less than halfway through the regular season, the boys volleyball team already had set a program record for wins and exceeded the number of wins from its first two seasons combined.

New Albany was 9-2 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Ohio Division entering an April 22 match against Westerville Central. Gahanna handed the Eagles their only defeats in their first 11 matches, 25-21, 25-21, 25-23 on April 16 and 25-16, 25-12, 25-19 on April 20, but otherwise New Albany had lost only two games in that stretch.

The Eagles went 7-31 in their first two seasons, improving from 1-16 in 2018 to 6-15 in 2019.

“The guys have done an excellent job starting and finishing matches quickly, making little room for error,” coach Jessica Florea said. “Many of our players are dynamic and capable of filling multiple roles on the court, which is always fun to watch. (Outside hitter Hayden) ‘Hondo’ Gray is as effective on defense as he is on offense. (Setter) Gabe Lowden is probably the best utility player we have, filling roles as a setter (with 108 assists), right-side hitter and on defense (where he averages eight digs per match).

“Seniors Carlos Polanco-Zaccardi (outside hitter), Owen Troutman (libero) and Gavin Fancher (setter) are the natural leaders and motivators on the team. It has been inspiring watching them all step up.”

Gray had a team-leading 88 kills and 25 aces through nine matches, ahead of Polanco-Zaccardi’s 67 kills. Lowden had 18 aces.

‘Selfless’ boys lacrosse

team continues growth

Continued diversity on offense and improvement on defense are atop the to-do list for boys lacrosse coach Danny Gibson as the Eagles enter the final few weeks of the regular season.

New Albany was 5-3 overall before playing Massillon Jackson on April 23 and took a 3-0 OCC-Ohio record into an April 27 game at Westerville Central. The Eagles had scored at least seven goals in each of their first eight games, recording between 10 and 13 in five of them, and sought to decrease an average of 7.3 goals allowed.

“Offensively, we’ve been extremely selfless. Usually every game, we have at least four or five guys contributing with a goal or more,” Gibson said. “Guys have contributed and been able to execute when their time comes.”

Gibson cited strong play from starting attackers Max Dupler, Kaleb Matt and Grayson Passias in front of midfielders Sam Dunn and Braydon Wong. Zach Siegfried and Jack Vannoy have split faceoff responsibilities.

“Defensively, we’re still very green. We have a lot of little things we still need to buckle down on,” Gibson said. “That will be a day-by-day process until we get to the playoffs and we knew that.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave