JACKSON TWP. Four times in a six-year span is enough to make the Jackson girls lacrosse team an unofficial resident at the state lacrosse tournament.
The Polar Bears kept their perfect season alive with a resounding 12-4 regional final win over Hudson, earning a state semifinal spot against New Albany, a team they defeated in overtime earlier this season.
The win set up a potentially historic week for Jackson High School, sending both its baseball and girls lacrosse teams to the state level, with with three individual competitors for the boys track team and one from the girls track team.
That means plenty of purple and gold pride will be condensed in central Ohio over the latter part of the week and while the lacrosse team expected to contend for a state title, what players and coaches didn’t expect was the lopsided win over Hudson.
“I didn’t expect the score to be what it was,” head coach John Kroah said. “Hudson is a team that historically really gets better as the season wears on. We beat them early and it was only the second game for them, while we had already played six or seven games.”
Rolling to 20-0 with an eight-goal regional final win is a reason for confidence, but knowing that the win earned them a rematch with New Albany was a reason to come back to earth quickly for Jackson. The Polar Bears are seeded second, New Albany is seeded third and top seed Upper Arlington has combined with Jackson and New Albany to dominate the state tournament in recent years.
This year’s tournament is a bit different from its predecessors, partially because it’s sponsored by the Ohio High School Athletic Association and partially because there are two full days between the semifinals and championship game, as opposed to the games being on consecutive days in the past.
“Personally, I think it’s a great thing because in the past, the tournament was always in Columbus and that was a disvantge for us because we had to play Friday, stay in a hotel and then play Saturday, while teams from the Columbus area were close to home,” Kroah said. “It helps when you can sleep in your own bed, have a bowl of Cheerios and then go to the game.”
One surprise that Jackson saw through the first few rounds of the touranemtn was the lack of teams trying to isolate leading scorer Julia Hartnett. Hartnett entered the Hudson game with a team-leading 64 goals, but Kroah hasn’t seen opponents try to isolate her because other scorers, including Kaylyn Dillon and Miranda Billett, have provided balance and forced opponents to honor their presence as well.
The one area that has been a concern in the postseason is depth, but so far that issue hasn’t reared its head and hurt Jackson. After reaching the state title game last year for the first time, having another chance at the first state title in school history for a girls team is enticing.
“It’s amazing because I don’t believe there’s been a girls team win a state title at Jackson, and to have us going to the state tournament the same weekend at the baseball team is great,” Kroah said.
Given that the school already has one state title to its credit this school year - boys basketball - having two teams alive for their own title has the potential to certify this as the best overall sports season in school history. There’s still work to be done on the field and diamond, but regardless of the outcomes, it should be a week to remember.
Reach Andy at 330-580-8936
On Twitter: @aharrisBURB