Upper Arlington Roundup: Confident Golden Bears field hockey team enters postseason

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Emily Barker (left) and the Upper Arlington field hockey team are preparing for the district tournament. The Golden Bears outscored their opponents 47-19 through 14 games.

It’s not quite social distancing, but at least one Upper Arlington field hockey player attributes part of the Golden Bears’ offensive success this season to better spacing on the field.

“We’re doing much better with passing up the field and getting open for our teammates. Last year, we were clumped a lot more on the field. We know how we want to play up,” Katie Webber said. “When we got this team together, we knew everybody had their own potential. We play well as a team and we work harder together.”

A diverse offense coupled with a stingy defense put UA in what it hopes is a strong position entering the postseason.

The Bears were 10-4 overall before playing Gates Mills Hawken on Oct. 10 and 7-0 in the COFHL-West Division entering their final regular-season game Oct. 12 at perennial power Thomas Worthington.

The district tournament begins the week of Monday, Oct. 19.

UA outscored its opponents 47-19 through 14 games, considerably ahead of last year’s pace through the same stretch in which the Bears had scored 31 goals and given up 37 – 11 of which came in a shutout loss to eventual state champion Columbus Academy.

“We talked about accountability and what we need to do on defense. I think it’s starting to stick,” coach Sara Greaves said. “Going from where we had a bunch of goals scored on us last year … this year, it’s pretty minimal compared to that. I feel good about that. That says a lot about how they have developed.”

Webber had 15 goals through 14 games, six more than Emily Barker as 14 players had scored at least once.

Several players pointed to a 3-2 win at Olentangy Liberty on Aug. 24, the second game of the season, as an early indicator of the team’s success. Webber assisted Barker on the winning goal with 50 seconds left.

“Liberty was a big eye-opening game for us,” said versatile senior Lucy DeVita, who usually plays forward but previously was a defender. “So was Olentangy Orange (a 3-0 win Sept. 16), because they’ve been big competitors to us the past few years. Liberty started it off, though.”

Defender Liz Cramer said effective man-to-man defense has been key. In addition to six shutouts through 14 games, the Bears held Academy to three goals in a shutout loss Sept. 17 and limited New Albany to three goals in a one-goal double-overtime setback Sept. 30.

“We have each other’s movements down,” said Cramer, the only senior starter on a defense that also includes juniors Caroline Campbell, Mia Hargraves and Jillian Kuehn in front of junior goalie Caroline Langmeyer. “(Greaves) has been working a lot on tight marking, so we’ve really been good at that and trying not to let our girls score.”

Runners prepare for league meet

The boys and girls cross country teams expect stiff competition Saturday, Oct. 17, when they participate in OCC-Central meets loaded with state-ranked teams.

The boys were ranked 12th in Division I in the Ohio Association of Track and Cross Country Coaches’ state poll Oct. 3, one of four league teams in the top 20. Hilliard Davidson was second, Dublin Coffman was ninth and Olentangy Orange was 19th.

Davidson was first in the girls poll, with Coffman 19th and UA 20th.

Nonetheless, girls coach Allison Ewing is confident her team can hold its own. 

“We’re so excited about how we’re performing right now. Each week I’m blown away by how the girls continue to step up and compete,” Ewing said. “We have three girls (Elizabeth Lembach, Lydia Schoedinger and Aubrey Steiner) running under 20 minutes consistently (and) we haven’t seen this (kind of) success in a couple of years. I have very high hopes for us in the postseason. …

“I’m looking forward to the coming weeks and the girls’ continued progress. I fully anticipate some time drops and surprises with this group.”

Charlie Nowinski had the boys team’s best time through its first five races, as he ran a 15:44.9 to finish sixth in the Celtic Clash on Sept. 26 at Dublin Jerome.

Steiner’s 18:45.7 in the Central Ohio Cross Country Invitational on Sept. 19 at Three Creeks Metro Park, where she finished first, paced the girls team entering the week.

Eileen Murray and her Golden Bears teammates finished second to Dublin Jerome in a Division I girls golf sectional Oct. 6 at Royal American.  The district was scheduled for Oct. 13.

Golf teams advance to district

The boys and girls golf teams participated in Division I district tournaments this week, coming off strong sectional performances Oct. 6.

The girls finished second (340) in a sectional at Royal American behind champion Dublin Jerome (322) as 11 teams scored. Julia Rabadam shot a 78, followed by Reagan Nolan (83), Mary Murray (89) and Emily Zhang (90).

The top three teams and three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 13 at New Albany Links.

Also on Oct. 6 in a boys sectional at Darby Creek, Brady Catalano’s round of 77 led UA to a team score of 315 and third place behind champion St. Charles (297) as 14 teams scored. The top four teams and four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 13 at Apple Valley.

Also scoring for the Bears were Jud Turner (78), Daniel Goldberg (79) and Dylan Cullman (81).

From both district tournaments, the top two teams and two individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to state Oct. 23-24. The boys state tournament is at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course, while the girls tournament is at OSU’s Gray Course.

The girls team sought its second consecutive state appearance and 13th overall, while the boys aimed for their 55th all-time state berth and first since 2014.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekDave