WESTERVILLE — Sometimes, statistics can be construed to say whatever people want.
Unfortunately, those same numbers oftentimes don’t lie and the Medina girls lacrosse team found out the hard way Friday in a 13-8 Ohio Schoolgirls Division I state semifinal loss to Upper Arlington.
Coming in, the Golden Bears had won 78 percent of their faceoffs (335-of-432), leading to a ton of offensive opportunities.
That number only improved, as the Bees (10-8) won just 3-of-23 draws.
Because of it, Upper Arlington (18-2) will return to the state finals for the eighth time in nine seasons today and will play defending champion Sycamore (17-3) at 3 p.m.
“It’s very tough,” Medina coach Amanda Wilson said. “If we don’t have the ball, we can’t put an attack together. We finally changed our mind that if we couldn’t get the 50/50 at the draw but force the attack to drop the ball, that’s the 50/50 we could win.”
To make matters worse, the Golden Bears’ very patient offense got into the offensive third and waited for opportunities. There weren’t many rushed shots or wild passes as Upper Arlington jumped to a 7-1 advantage.
Of the Bears’ first seven shots, six found the back of the net and Medina was behind by a substantial amount 12 minutes in.
“It definitely was tough, but our defense was good enough to cause the turnover,” Bees middie Sarah Vanadia said. “We’d cause it but didn’t get the 50/50 ball, and that’s what killed us.
“We have come back from bigger deficits. I thought we could come back, I really did, but we just didn’t capitalize on the 50/50.”
When Medina did get the ball into the offensive third — the Bees spent just six minutes there out of 25 in the first half — it went on a mini-run.
By halftime, Medina was down just 7-4 as Vanadia, Alyssa Rydell and Ashley Bernardi closed strong.
But it was back to much of the same after the break, as first-team All-Ohio and Stanford recruit Molly Plasket won 9-of-11 second-half draws to keep the Golden Bears’ offense moving.
“We had some momentum going into halftime, but it was tough when we didn’t win the faceoff,” Bees middie Mackenzie Hitchcock said. “If you don’t have the ball, you can’t win the game.”
As much as Vanadia (3 goals, assist), Hitchcock (2, 1), Rydell (2 goals), Bernardi (goal, 2 assists) and Cassie Hudson-Heck (assist) tried, Upper Arlington had answers.
They primarily came from Mary Nicole Scott (4 goals), Megan Morgan (2 goals, assist), Plasket (2 goals, assist) and Olivia Schildmeyer (2 goals, 2 assists) as Medina never got closer than two goals.
The task at hand for Medina comes in replacing Hitchcock (first-team all-district), Mikaela Faus (first-team all-district), Bernardi (second-team all-district) and Hudson-Heck (honorable mention all-district). All four graduated, as did Olivia Passe, Erin Haltman, Alli Phillips, Rydell and Alex Smith.
The good news is the Bees, who have just four starters back, return their leading scorer in first-team All-Ohioan Vanadia (58 goals, 7 assists) and a group of seniors who have played in two state semifinals and a state final.
“Being someone who has to take command and get the other girls there, I really want to,” Vanadia said. “I’m ready for it.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.