New Albany Roundup: Eagles girls lacrosse team edged in Division I state final

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
New Albany’s Catherine Gurd shows her disappointment after a 13-12 loss to Dublin Coffman in the Division I state final June 5 at Ohio Wesleyan. The Eagles finished as state runners-up for the third consecutive season.

Although she admitted it would take time, New Albany girls lacrosse coach Elaina Enich thinks her team eventually will reflect more on its entire body of work than the manner in which it finished as Division I state runner-up for the third consecutive season.

The Eagles trailed Dublin Coffman by three goals three times in the second half of the state final June 5 at Ohio Wesleyan, only to fight back to tie the game on sophomore midfielder Abby Cole’s fourth goal with 54.2 seconds left.

But in arguably the most gut-wrenching finish of the three finals losses, Coffman freshman Ava Westmeyer took a pass from Bailey Morris in the closing seconds and scored as time expired to give the Shamrocks a 13-12 win and their first title.

New Albany was seeking its fifth championship and first in Division I.

Although the ball was not in the net when regulation ended, that was permissible according to a National Federation of High Schools rule that makes a goal legal as long as the shot was released before the buzzer.

“It was a tough one but we fought and tried to figure it out,” Enich said. “Going a man down for 20 minutes (because of penalties) in the second half is always hard, especially when you’re trying to claw back. Still, Coffman is an awesome team and they were ready to go.

“(Coffman) going into the tournament, they got better, a lot stronger and they figured it out. They made a great run. We thought we were ready but we were back on our heels. I don’t know if the stage was a little bit too big. We got off to a slow start and were always in that claw-back mode.”

Cole scored three times in the final 9:26 to help fuel the comeback. Junior midfielder Mary Carson and junior attacker Katie Kaucheck each added three goals.

New Albany, which finished 20-4 and had defeated Coffman 15-4 on May 6, had lost to Upper Arlington in the previous two championship games. UA’s quest for a sixth consecutive title ended with a loss to Coffman in the Region 3 final.

Carson, a first-team all-state honoree, scored a team-high 62 goals. Cole, who was named second-team all-state, finished with 58 goals and Kaucheck added 53.

Kaucheck and junior defender Catherine Gurd also were first-team all-region with Carson and Cole. Juniors Aubrey Bagenstose (goalie) and Mimi Economus (defender) and freshman attacker Ellie McClelland were second-team all-region.

Two seniors will play in college in attacker Jillian Bingman (Lindenwood) and defender Bridget Driscoll (DePauw). Driscoll was second-team all-region.

Among other players eligible to return are junior Annika Duncan (goalie), sophomore Cassidy Clapham (attacker) and freshman Maddy Paz (defender).

McClelland had 30 goals and Clapham added 28.

“This (season) was unbelievable. The girls had such faith and trust in the process,” Enich said. “Just because we didn’t get the ultimate goal at the end of the day doesn’t mean this season wasn’t successful.”

New Albany's Brady Conley reacts after striking out the final Lancaster batter to close out a 4-2 win in a Division I regional semifinal June 4 at Dublin Coffman.

Baseball team

heading to state

The baseball team will appear in its first state tournament in 17 years when it faces Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit in a Division I semifinal June 11 at Canal Park in Akron.

New Albany, which is 27-5, is at state for the second time and first time in Division I. The program’s only championship came in 2004 in Division III.

The Eagles won two two-run games in the regional at Dublin Coffman, 4-2 over Lancaster in a semifinal June 4 and 3-1 over Olentangy Orange in the final the next day.

Against Orange, Andrew Ecleberry’s RBI single in the fifth scored Caden Robinson with the eventual winning run, and Ian Hoff doubled in Oliver Cush in the sixth on a play on which Hoff originally was supposed to bunt.

“I am so happy for these guys because I know heading into this (season), we had so much to overcome and they did it,” said coach Dave Starling, who also led Reynoldsburg to the Division I state tournament in 2004. “(Hoff) is a good bunter but everything worked out pretty well.”

Brady Conley picked up the save against Lancaster and the win over Orange, allowing one hit in three innings. Originally designated as the team’s closer, Conley suffered a broken left wrist on the first day of preseason practice and did return until May.

“I feel like I perform better under pressure,” he said. “I’ve played almost 12 years with a lot of these guys. That relieves a lot of (the pressure). We have such a great chemistry. This is amazing.”

The New Albany-Walsh Jesuit winner will play Cincinnati Elder or Toledo St. John’s in the state final June 12 at Canal Park.

Elder and Walsh Jesuit are making their first state appearances since 2010. St. John’s is at state for the first time.

New Albany seniors Devin Boyer and Ryan Mudre won the Division I state doubles championship May 29 at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.

Boys tennis team

celebrates doubles title

The final weekend of the boys tennis season again included a state championship on the individual side and a tough finish on the team level.

Seniors Devin Boyer and Ryan Mudre won the program’s third doubles title May 29, defeating Mason’s Akshay Joshi and Sam King 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 in the Division I final at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason. It was the second doubles championship for Boyer, who teamed with Nathan Jose in 2018 for a title before the same duo finished third in 2019.

Like Boyer, Mudre was a three-time state qualifier, although his previous two appearances were in singles.

“That last day, we just peaked,” said Mudre, a Tennessee-Chattanooga recruit. “We wanted to do this last year (before the season was canceled) so we wanted to have a good run this time.”

Boyer, a Cleveland State recruit, and Mudre did not lose a set in the postseason until the state final.

Their teammates, junior Declan Freedhoff and freshman Ben Bilenko, lost in the first round 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 to Hunting Valley University School’s Spencer Krantz and Nathan Mu.

New Albany finished second in the Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I state tournament, losing 3-2 to visiting Mason in the final May 30. The Eagles, who also were state runners-up in 2017 and 2018, edged University School in a semifinal.

The final came down to third singles, where Mason’s Eric Tang edged Bilenko 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.

“It was a match between the two best teams in the state. All you can ask for is to have experiences like this and have the chance to play in these matches,” coach Marc Thomas said. “We proved we are one of the best teams in Ohio. … All you can ask is to put yourselves in the position to win.”

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

GIRLS LACROSSE

Record: 20-4 overall

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (4-0), Pickerington Central (3-1), Pickerington North (2-2), Gahanna (1-3), Westerville Central (0-4)

Seniors lost: Jillian Bingman, Alexis Curren, Alison Dressel, Bridget Driscoll, Emily Garcia, Olivia Gittins, Jadyn Sellars and Anna Whetzel

Key returnees: Aubrey Bagenstose, Mary Carson, Abby Cole, Annika Duncan, Mimi Economus and Ellie McClelland

Postseason: Defeated Whitehouse Anthony Wayne 24-1; def. Perrysburg 15-3; def. Olentangy Liberty 9-8; def. Medina 7-5; def. Hudson 12-6; lost to Dublin Coffman 13-12 in Division I state final

BOYS TENNIS

Record: 16-4 overall

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (4-0), Gahanna (3-1), North (2-2), Grove City (1-3), Westerville Central (0-4)

Seniors lost: Devin Boyer, Virang Desai, Matteo Gangemi, Ryan Mudre and Kaan Odabas

Key returnees: Ben Bilenko, Dhruv Chavan, Declan Freedhoff and Halen Hamstead