OHSAA boys lacrosse: Liberty and DeSales advance to state finals; Upper Arlington falls short

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A day after the DeSales, Olentangy Liberty and Upper Arlington girls lacrosse teams won state semifinals, the boys teams from those schools tried to duplicate that feat. DeSales won its game, UA fell short and Liberty overcame weather delays to win a contest that ended a little before 11 p.m.

Cincinnati St. Xavier 13, Upper Arlington 11

SPRINGFIELD — Five consecutive Division I state semifinal meetings between UA and St. Xavier means there are few secrets and fewer surprises in what has come to feel like an inevitable showdown.

So when St. Xavier coupled a three-goal fourth-quarter outburst with a zone defense Wednesday night at Wittenberg, UA coach Kyle Olson was anything but surprised.

Moreover, he was disappointed that shots were few and far between in the period, and what shots there were usually ended up as saves for Bombers goalie Trent Yelton.

“We talked about that a lot at halftime; we were ready for different looks, and we just didn’t execute at the level we needed,” Olson said. “They typically play zone against us in the semifinal game because it’s how they can try to slow the game down against our offense, try to limit our possessions, and get the ball back—that kind of thing. They played man the first half, which really surprised us, but we battled back.”

Joe Matre’s four goals led UA (19-4), which is 2-3 against St. Xavier in semifinals dating to 2019. The Golden Bears battled back from a 6-4 second-quarter deficit to tie it 6-all at halftime, and the game was tied four times in the third quarter, when UA briefly took leads of 7-6 and 8-7.

UA also fell to St. Xavier in a semifinal last year on the same field, 8-7 in overtime.

The Bears won in 2021 and 2022, going on to capture the most recent of their 17 championships two years ago. Their only three in-state losses since 2019 have been to St. Xavier and Dublin Jerome, the latter in the 2021 state final.

“It’s the second year in a row that probably the worst game we played all year was at the end,” Olson said. “That stings.”

Upper Arlington's Wally Swiney scored one goal in his team's state semifinal loss Wednesday.

Jack Caine and Jack Van Aman each scored twice for UA. Quinn Crotty, Tommy Janowicz and Wally Swiney each had one goal and goalie Sam Old made seven saves.

None of those came in the fourth quarter, when St. Xavier (20-3) scored on all three of its shots.

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Brendan Deeley, Khalif Hocker and Daniel Vollmer each had hat tricks for the Bombers, who play Liberty in the final at 4 p.m. Saturday at Historic Crew Stadium. St. Xavier lost to Jerome in the 2023 title game.

Hocker, a junior attacker, Ohio State commit and two-time All-American, was held off the scoreboard until midway through the third period. He scored with 8:24 left to make it 11-10, breaking the fifth tie of the night, and Brady Bennett added the eventual winning goal with 4:58 to go.

“(Hocker) just needed to get in a rhythm, have some confidence and keep shooting,” St. Xavier coach Nate Sprong said. “We’re spoiled. I’ve coached these guys for a long time and the offense wasn’t the prettiest tonight, but they have a sense of each other’s strengths and weaknesses and they pulled it out when they had to.”

St. Xavier's Jimmy Brown (10) battles Upper Arlington's Jack Van Aman during the state semifinal.

Caine scored UA’s final goal with 2:02 left.

UA outshot St. Xavier 30-28. Yelton made 10 saves.

—Dave Purpura

Olentangy Liberty 15, North Canton Hoover 11

ASHLAND — Liberty (22-1) fought off two weather delays and Hoover (20-3) to earn its first state tournament win in Division I. 

In the state final, the Patriots will try to beat St. Xavier for the second time this season. Liberty won 14-11 on May 11.

The semifinal at Ashland University had a nearly two-hour weather delay before it began and another 30-minute delay before halftime. 

The delays didn’t faze the Patriots, who erased an early 2-0 deficit to tie the game at 5 after one quarter and led 9-6 at halftime. Liberty never trailed in the second half.

“That start wasn’t too nerve-racking,” Patriots coach Jason Godwin said. “We’ve won a couple of our biggest games trailing. I was not too worried.” 

Luca Minniti led Liberty with five goals. J.R. Hocutt scored three and Brian Savage and Justin Sebert added two apiece. 

“We have to come in with big energy (on Saturday),” Minniti said. “(St. Xavier is) a good team, but I think we’re better and we have to get the best of them. … This was a good team win.”

—Frank DiRenna

DIVISION II

DeSales 17, Bellbrook 1

Ty Hampton had six goals and Blake Carawan scored four, fueling the Stallions’ rout of first-time state qualifier Bellbrook at Dayton Chaminade Julienne, and DeSales rolled into its third consecutive final.

DeSales (15-3) gave up Bellbrook’s (13-4) only goal three minutes in and led 4-1 after a quarter, 9-1 at halftime and 14-1 after three.

The Stallions will face Toledo St. John’s in the final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Historic Crew Stadium.

DeSales is seeking its second championship in three seasons and fourth all-time, all of which have come since 2012.

—Dave Purpura