Water Polo: Upper Arlington Golden Bears girls team caps perfect season with state title
Almost as if the games had been played days before and not years, Upper Arlington girls water polo player Caroline Colombo ticked off the Golden Bears’ recent history in state finals.
After one- and three-goal losses in championship games her freshman and sophomore years, Colombo, a senior and Butler swimming recruit, smiled with both joy and relief May 22 after the Bears bolted to an early five-goal lead on Cincinnati Sycamore and then shut out the Aviators in the second half of an 11-4 win at Cincinnati Princeton.
The victory sealed UA’s sixth state title in eight years and 18th overall and capped a 26-0 season under first-year coach Caitlain Spangler.
“From the start to where we ended, there was so much growth. To go out with a win like this and go undefeated is super special,” said Colombo, who had five of her seven goals in the first half. “Overall, I think (the state final) was one of our best games. We were communicating well, we were moving a lot in the water. Our shots were really good.”
Senior Lydia Muldoon and junior Caroline Porterfield each scored twice, and a UA defense paced by Muldoon and senior goalie Carley Hart limited the Aviators to long-range looks most of the day. Many of their shots caromed off the post or crossbar or sailed high.
“(Muldoon) is our go-to girl,” Spangler said. “If you tell her something needs to be done, she gets it done, whether it’s on offense or defense. When I instruct her to take care of something, we know it’s going to get done.”
Muldoon relished her multifaceted role for UA, which routed the Cincinnati Mavericks 20-4 in a semifinal earlier May 22.
“My main thing was to draw kickouts and play good defense. I am not one of the main people getting goals, but I am the one on the back line making sure (the opponent) won’t get fast breaks,” Muldoon said. “From the start, I knew this team was capable of this. They’re all so strong. They’re great girls. Everyone works hard. We scrimmage each other in practice with even teams so we get ourselves ready for the more difficult games like we had here.”
UA finished as the state’s only unbeaten team regardless of gender.
“It’s been amazing, being able to say we’re the only undefeated team in the state,” Hart said. “It shows how hard we worked all year, all four classes. The underclassmen have been working for this. The upperclassmen, we just wanted to keep this going.”
A handful of contributors are eligible to return, including Porterfield – a Georgia Tech swimming commit – as well as classmates Samantha Schaefer and Caroline Ubert and sophomore goalie Caroline Redder.
third at state
The boys team overcame the disappointment of a 13-9 loss to Princeton in a state semifinal May 22 to beat Cincinnati St. Xavier 18-7 in the third-place game later that day.
Senior Avery Voss’ five goals and four from sophomore Clark Pabst led UA, which finished 24-5-1.
“Everyone did their job and that’s why the score (against St. Xavier) ended up it like it was. We played hard, we played fast and we played strong, basic polo. That’s what makes us good,” coach J.J. Spangler said. “It was a tough loss (to Princeton). We always tell them to keep their heads high and they do that on their own just because that’s the kind of guys they are. They were very disappointed, but to be disappointed in getting third in the state is what we want from our guys.”
The Bears took a 5-0 lead on St. Xavier before the Bombers scored three unanswered goals, but UA scored the last two goals of the second quarter to make it 7-3 at halftime.
The Bears scored the first three goals of the second half and went on a 7-1 run to take a double-digit lead.
“We liked how we were playing. We just had to keep swimming, driving through them and the game would come to us,” said Voss, a Stanford swimming recruit. “We were bummed after that first game, but we had some good down time and we had a meeting and just said ‘what’s done is done.’ What was going to show about our team and our character was playing the second game as hard as we could.”
Sophomores Caden Colombo, Grant Gooding and Patrick Ray are among several players expected to return.
BOYS WATER POLO
•Record: 24-5-1 overall
•Seniors lost: Blake Burkle, Jimmy Colombo, Deniz Erdal, Jackson Gooding, Alex He, Hayden Jay, Keegan Jones, Thomas Ray, Avery Voss and Ethan White
•Key returnees: Caden Colombo, Grant Gooding, Clark Pabst and Patrick Ray
•Postseason: Defeated Sylvania 26-7; def. Thomas Worthington 16-9; def. St. Charles 16-13; lost to Cincinnati Princeton 13-9; def. Cincinnati St. Xavier 18-7 in third-place game at state tournament
GIRLS WATER POLO
•Record: 26-0 overall
•Seniors lost: Caroline Colombo, Sophia Elliott, Carley Hart, Addie Jay, Lydia Muldoon and Lilli Swanson
•Key returnees: Caroline Porterfield, Caroline Redder and Samantha Schaefer
•Postseason: Def. Thomas 14-6; def. Napoleon 9-2; def. Mavericks 20-4; def. Cincinnati Sycamore 11-4 in state final