Upper Arlington Roundup: Golden Bears girls lacrosse team looking to continue state title streak

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
Senior midfielder Annie Hargraves, an Ohio State recruit, is one of the top returnees for Upper Arlington after scoring 39 goals in 2019. The Golden Bears will be seeking their sixth consecutive Division I state championship.

Having focused on her team’s defense throughout the preseason because of its inexperience, Upper Arlington girls lacrosse coach Wendy Pinta acknowledged that the Golden Bears might have to depend on their offense for a fast start. 

Some of the key players on that side of the ball, however, might end up lending their talents on the other end of the field, underscoring a versatility that Pinta hopes translates into a run toward the program’s sixth consecutive Division I state championship.

“One of the keys is that we have a ton of versatility. We have girls who can play in a lot of positions, especially as we look to move some attackers to defense and then back again. We’re excited about where their skill sets can take us,” said Pinta, whose ninth season began March 20 with a 15-10 victory at Medina. “We’re returning a very athletic group with a lot of speed. Everybody is just a little rusty (because of not playing last spring). There are some bad habits to dust off the sticks at this point, but we have a lot of potential.”

Senior midfielder Annie Hargraves, an Ohio State recruit, had 39 goals as a sophomore and is among a group of three college signees that also includes senior attacker Paris Alexander (Cincinnati) and senior midfielder Clara Gallapoo (Lindenwood). 

Junior midfielder Camryn Callaghan, who had 44 goals as a freshman, is a Cincinnati commit, and junior goalie Elizabeth Goth has committed to Lindenwood.

All but Goth were starters two years ago, when the Bears went 21-1 and defeated New Albany 12-10 in the state final. Goth was the backup for 2019 graduate Amanda Strayton.

Pinta said she will depend heavily on junior midfielder Rian Adkins, who saw considerable playing time as a freshman but figures to be a multipurpose threat.

“She hasn’t had a ton of time on our field, but she’s really a skilled finesse attacker. She’s blossomed,” Pinta said. “She’ll be a pivotal player, not just on attack but in the midfield and on defense as well.”

No starters returned on defense, but senior Delaney Evans and sophomore Kampbell Stone should be among the leaders in front of Goth.

“We have some of the best ball handlers I’ve ever coached on attack, hands down,” Pinta said. “The key for us on attack is building that team chemistry because they just haven't played with each other.”

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Wendy Pinta, ninth season

Next game: April 3 vs. Massillon Jackson

Key athletes: Rian Adkins, Paris Alexander, Camryn Callaghan, Clara Gallapoo, Elizabeth Goth and Annie Hargraves

Inexperienced boys

lacrosse team regroups

Underscoring both the fact that the boys lacrosse program has experienced a large amount of turnover in recent seasons, including last year, was an anecdote fourth-year coach Kyle Olson and his players barely could believe.

Senior attacker Garrett Junk was the only Bear to have played a varsity game in Marv Moorehead Stadium before UA opened March 25 against Thomas Worthington. Junk was on varsity as a freshman, and the Bears played their home games in 2019 at Wellington because of construction on the new high school.

A few other contributors return from that team, which went 16-6 and lost to Cincinnati St. Xavier 9-8 in overtime in a Division I state semifinal, including seniors Shea Keethler (faceoff specialist/midfielder) and Mac Scholl (goalie). Scholl and classmate Michael Fulmer, a defender, are Ohio Wesleyan recruits.

“A lot of young guys got reps two years ago. If I look through the roster, over 50 percent don’t have varsity experience and that includes one of our captains, (junior midfielder) Tanner Gillie,” Olson said. “Guys will earn their spots and their time. It’s a unique situation. I’m excited about what I don’t know.”

Others who saw time in 2019 or are expected to be key players this season include seniors Adam Cipriano (midfielder), Will Cohen (attacker), Marco Landolfi (midfielder), Evan Lively (attacker) and Grant Miller (midfielder) and juniors Sam Burns (midfielder), Leo Caine (attacker), Chris Reynolds (defender) and Charlie Van Aman (midfielder).

“We don’t have a really young team but it’s a lot of extra absorbing of knowledge, going through everything and making sure we have the basics locked down,” Landolfi said. “We have a ton of talent but not a ton of experience. We’re just building up the mental reps so once the season comes, we can get after it.”

BOYS LACROSSE

Coach: Kyle Olson, fourth season

Next game: April 3 vs. Hudson Western Reserve

Key athletes: Leo Caine, Garrett Junk, Shea Keethler, Marco Landolfi and Mac Scholl

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave