Kings girls fall to Upper Arlington in the state semifinals

SPRINGFIELD, Ohio − The best season in Kings girls lacrosse history won’t have a storybook ending.

On Tuesday night, the Lady Knights – fresh off their first-ever regional championship – collided with an Ohio High School Athletic Association lacrosse juggernaut in Upper Arlington.

Upper Arlington, which has won 11 career state titles and is looking to continue after winning all of them last spring, capped the Kings’ season with an 18-11 victory in the Division I semifinals over Wittenberg University.

“We ran into a great team. Upper Arlington is solid,” Kings head coach Brian Schuckman said. “We won half, but not the match.”

Upper Arlington storms in front in the third quarter

At halftime, Kings held an 8-7 lead before rain started pouring onto Edwards-Maurer Field. It put Upper Arlington on an offensive binge as the Golden Bears tied the game in the first 30 seconds of the second half and took the lead for good at the 10:25 mark.

The third quarter proved to be the difference-maker as the one-sided stanza was dominated by Upper Arlington, which scored the first seven goals before the Knights could figure out a response.

“The first thirty seconds of the second half were the difference,” Schuckman said. “They (Upper Arlington) caught fire.”

Upper Arlington senior forward Lilly Boyle, who scored six times in the team’s regional final victory over Worthington Kilbourne, was the difference maker, scoring eight goals, including a personal hat trick in the third.

Upper Arlington’s 7-0 run gave it a 14-8 lead. Although Kings would cut the deficit to four with just over seven minutes remaining, the damage was already done as Upper Arlington added a trio of insurance goals to punch its ticket to Friday’s state championship game.

“We started hanging our heads. UA’s experience started showing. Our lack of experience was obvious,” Schuckman said. “We started digging that hole and it was hard to get out.”

Kings throws the first punch

Playing in their first ever semi-final, Kings seemed unfazed by the bright lights of the Final Four.

After surrendering the ice-breaking goal, Kings, led by its high-powered offense featuring three of the Eastern Cincinnati Conference’s top five scorers, seized the upper hand.

Sophomore Marin Bode found the net and senior Sami Drew had a hat trick in the opening period and assisted fellow senior Bella Land on another goal, giving the Knights a 5-2 lead after the first.

With 8:49 left in the second, Grace Sims’ goal made it 6-3 Knights and senior Kenzie Beck’s big night started with a goal on a restart. Upper Arlington scored four straight goals to tie the score, but Beck’s second goal of the quarter gave the Knights a one-goal lead at intermission.

Beck and Drew each tied for a team-high four goals. That gives Beck an ECC-best 79 for the year.

“They have left their mark on the program.”

As a tearful farewell was said on the sidelines of the rainy Kings, there was still a final postgame meeting filled with hope for a program that was finally turning the corner.

Schuckman said the turning point came after the Kings’ last loss, a 10-6 loss to Walnut Hills on May 2, which ultimately cost the Knights a shot at an ECC title.

“We can crash and burn, or we can figure things out and come together as a team,” he said. “I’m so proud that they came together as a team.”

In the past, Kings have been happy to be in the conversation for a few rounds in the regions. Now the outgoing seniors – Madelyn Owens, Sims, Beck, Halle Heagen, Drew and Bella Land – are setting a new standard after making school history.

“I’m just so proud of my seniors. We did things this year that we’ve never done before,” Schuckman said. “They set the precedent that we expect here. Now expectations are high. The underclassmen will follow next. Our seniors have worked hard and come together as a team. They have left their mark on the program.”

Upper Arlington 18, Kings 11

Goals: UA- Boyle 7, Stummer 3, Wiles 2, Smith 2, Ruma 2, Kate Basil. K- Beck 4, Drew 4, Sims, Bode, Land.

Facts: UA 21-2, K 19-4.

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