New Albany Roundup: Eagles boys lacrosse squad ends OCC title drought

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Max Dupler and OCC-Ohio Division champion New Albany opened the Division I, Region 3 tournament May 18 against Xenia.

Even as his team celebrated winning the OCC-Ohio Division championship, New Albany boys lacrosse coach Danny Gibson said nothing about the season had changed.

That followed his approach of treating the regular season as a series of scrimmages in preparation for the Division I, Region 3 tournament, which began May 18 when the sixth-seeded Eagles played host to 19th-seeded Xenia in a second-round game.

“We’ll get back in the lab and keep getting better. It’s all about making winning a byproduct of (practicing) good habits,” Gibson said. “We still haven’t put together a four-quarter game but we still have shown signs of what we’re looking for — overall maturity, managing the clock, managing the game and being able to play lacrosse from a strategic standpoint rather than a trigger-happy, go-go-go sort of approach.

“Even on defense, just doing the little things more instead of running around and trying to catch a guy. We’re getting in front of guys, staying on them and doing all the little things better.”

New Albany was 9-6 overall before playing Thomas Worthington on May 13 and went 5-0 in the league to win its first championship since 2015. 

The Eagles finished OCC-Ohio play May 4 with a 16-7 win over Pickerington North, paced by four goals from attacker Grayson Passias and 10 saves from goalie Ian Epstein.

Passias said he and the team were partly driven by the memory of a 7-6 overtime loss at Olentangy Liberty two years ago that cost them a share of the OCC-Buckeye title.

“Then freshman year, we were close but we missed. It’s been in front of us and we finally captured it,” Passias said.

Passias had 10 points on seven goals and three assists April 27 in a 19-6 win at Westerville Central, a performance that unofficially ties him for third-best statewide since the Ohio High School Athletic Association began sanctioning lacrosse in 2016.

Three days earlier in an 18-10 win at Granville, attacker Kaleb Matt’s eight assists put him in a four-way tie for the state record.

“(Matt) is always there. He’s a great feeder. He’s another one of those guys who has really stepped up,” Passias said.

New Albany entered the postseason still hoping to put together complete games. According to attacker Max Dupler, the Eagles have become stronger in each half but still have struggled with slow starts to given quarters or halves.

“Early in the year, we were either a first-half team or a second-half team,” Dupler said. “We’d have hot streaks, but we’ve done a better job slowing down and valuing every possession instead of always going to the net.”

The New Albany-Xenia winner will play second-seeded Worthington Kilbourne, ninth-seeded Pickerington Central or 18th-seeded Newark in a regional quarterfinal May 21 at the home of the better seed. That winner will face third-seeded St. Charles, seventh-seeded Hilliard Davidson, eighth-seeded Pickerington North or 16th-seeded Gahanna in a regional semifinal May 25 at the best-seeded team’s home field.

The regional final is May 28.

New Albany lost to Kilbourne 9-7 on March 23, defeated Central 13-7 on April 13 and Gahanna 17-3 on April 20 and shut out Newark 18-0 on April 6.

Abby Cole and the Eagles began the Division I, Region 1 tournament May 18 against Whitehouse Anthony Wayne.

Girls lacrosse team

rolls into postseason

Girls lacrosse coach Elaina Enich was surprised her team was seeded second in the Division I, Region 1 tournament, largely because the tournament draw took place a day after the Eagles routed host and eventual top seed Medina 17-5.

The win was New Albany’s ninth in 10 games since a 7-3 loss to Upper Arlington on April 17.

“It was a surprise to us, but that’s OK. It’s an opportunity to show everybody else in the region that we’re one of the most dominant teams, if not the most,” Enich said. “We’re ready to prove some people wrong. This whole season, we’ve preached to the girls that once they realize how good we are, it’s going to come as a shock to a lot of people. It’s one thing when you preach something but once the girls start clicking and buying in and realizing it’s not all talk, that’s a different level.”

New Albany was 14-3 before playing Kilbourne on May 13 and began the postseason May 18 at home against 14th-seeded Whitehouse Anthony Wayne.

An offense paced by Mary Carson, Abby Cole, Katie Kaucheck and Ellie McClelland averaged 16.3 goals in an 11-game stretch before May 13, while the defense and primary goalie Aubrey Bagenstose allowed 4.5 goals per contest.

The New Albany-Anthony Wayne winner will play fifth-seeded Perrysburg or 13th-seeded Westerville Central on May 21. That winner will face fourth-seeded Liberty, seventh-seeded Brunswick, eighth-seeded Watterson or 12th-seeded Sylvania Northview in a regional semifinal May 24.

The regional final is May 27.

All regional games will be at the better-seeded team’s home field.

Softball team

earns tourney win

The softball team lost 11-0 in five innings at fifth-seeded Lancaster in the second round of the Division I district tournament May 12 after opening the postseason with a victory that featured three home runs by the Eagles. 

Jessica Goldhardt, Aurora Lescody and Logan Riley all homered May 10 as 30th-seeded New Albany beat 27th-seeded Dublin Scioto 11-2 in a game played at New Albany but with Scioto as the home team because of seeding.

Olivia Angles earned the complete-game win, scattering 12 hits and striking out four without a walk.

New Albany was 8-17 after the tournament loss to Lancaster and was scheduled to wrap up OCC-Ohio play May 13 at Westland.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave