The Bexley High School boys soccer team earned a return trip to a Division II regional semifinal with a 2-1 win over DeSales in a district final Oct. 27 at Westerville North.
It was the second consecutive district title for the Lions, who defeated Granville 1-0 in a district final last season before losing to Middletown Fenwick 4-0 in a regional semifinal.
Senior Jacob Cini scored twice in the second half against fourth-seeded DeSales as the Lions, the top seed in the district tournament, improved to 12-3-4. DeSales finished 8-7-4.
Coach Greg Kullman felt confident at halftime following a defensive stand against a Stallions team that had the wind at its back.
"DeSales plays a very direct style of play and they have some very strong players up top," Kullman said. "We battled hard in the first half, and in the second half, I think our possession started taking over.
"We had two perfect balls that Cini was able to run into the net. He made great plays on both."
Cini scored with 29 minutes, 46 seconds to play and with 11:27 left. DeSales' Peter Marth scored with 8:42 remaining.
"It wasn't salted away (after the second goal)," Kullman said. "We knew they were going to come at us. We've struggled on set pieces. The kids have done an excellent job of competing for the entire 80 minutes. They've had pride in themselves in wearing a Bexley jersey."
Bexley, which defeated 11th-seeded Hartley 3-2 in a district semifinal Oct. 23, advanced to a regional semifinal Oct. 31 at Logan against Vincent Warren. The winner plays Minerva or Dover in a regional final at noon Saturday, Nov. 3, at a site to be determined.
The regional champion plays Watterson, Cincinnati Indian Hill, Dayton Carroll or Bellbrook in a state semifinal at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, at a site to be determined.
DeSales ended the Lions' season in a district final in 2008 and in a state semifinal in 2009 en route to the Division II title.
"We just kind of focused the whole week on this game," Cini said. "This one is extra special. We can never seem to beat them. We had tons of opportunities. I think we could have put in more goals, but we got the ones we needed."
Sebastian Parra-Maya had nine saves for Bexley.
"We have a phenomenal senior class and the good thing is they all work extremely hard," Kullman said. "A couple of them said to me that they don't want this to end. My response was we have to use every day to prepare and get better. The focus is very good right now."
Cross country teams wrap up at regional
The cross country teams concluded the season by competing in the Division II regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. Neither squad finished in the top four nor had an individual place in the top 16 to advance to state.
The boys squad finished sixth (212) behind champion Granville (44) in a 16-team field. Ian Kellogg finished 21st (17:17.42) to lead the Lions, with Jason Adkin (47th, 17:54.41), Cole Keny (58th, 18:04.08), Ryan Prendergast (60th, 18:05.7) and Alex Meyer (76th, 18:21.3) also scoring.
"These boys ran the race I asked them to race," coach Eric Acton said. "I felt like if they tightened their pack a little bit and if Ian could lead them, we'd have an opportunity to advance. If you're third at district and all things are equal going to the regional, that puts us at about 12th, but I thought we were better than 12th, and we were."
Prendergast is a senior who competed in the program for one season.
Expected to return are juniors Adkin, Kellogg, Keny and Meyer, as well as juniors Simon Horn (91st, 18:44.03) and Sam Shorr (110th, 19:12.05), who also competed at regional.
"I have a group of kids who are juniors and are a strong class," Acton said. "When these guys were freshmen they finished 12th in the region, when they were sophomores they were seventh and here we were sixth in a much more difficult race to advance in.
"They've already set goals for next year and I think they'll work really hard next summer. I see them as a very tight group of guys and I look forward t o watching them as they get a little closer to reaching some of those goals for late October and early November."
The Lions qualified for regional by finishing third (93) behind champion Granville (16) as the top four squads advanced from the 12-team Division II, district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial.
In the MSL-Ohio Division meet, the Lions finished second (75) behind Granville (22) and ahead of Columbus Academy (99), Newark Catholic (126), Whitehall (126), Heath (140), Lakewood (144) and Licking Valley (175).
The girls team finished eighth (233) at regional as Proctorville Fairland (99) won in a 16-team field.
Scoring for the Lions were Regan Detwiler (42nd, 20:50.29), Katie Wittig (44th, 20:55.36), Samantha Shamhart (70th, 21:37.51), Sara Jane Niermeyer (71st, 21:37.98) and Lissy Schmidt (74th, 21:43.57).
"We've never run better as a team," Acton said. "It's funny. Two years ago we ran the same times and advanced to the state meet. The competition this year was impressive."
Detwiler missed most of the season with a stress fracture in a leg.
"Regan was in a boot for a little over four weeks," Acton said. "It really speaks to her competitive spirit. She's a tough athlete and every race she's in she always gives her all."
Niermeyer and Wittig are seniors. Detweiler, Schmidt and Shamhart are juniors and should return with junior Meghan Hayden, who was 76th (21:47.93) at regional, and freshman Meg Rhoads, who was 78th (21:48.67).
"I'll miss all my seniors," Acton said. "We had great leadership from all of them, both boys and girls. Our numbers were high and we filled a bus of kids who were not all racing, but they wanted to support their teammates (at regional). You can tell they want to be around that sort of success."
The girls were second (109) in the 14-team district meet behind champion Granville (41) and third (42) in the MSL-Ohio behind Granville (28) and Academy (42) and ahead of Licking (104), Newark Catholic (132), Heath (163), Lakewood (213) and Whitehall (230).
Football team ends season with loss
The football team finished 2-8 overall and 1-6 in the MSL-Ohio with a 28-10 home loss to Whitehall on Oct. 26.
Andre Stewart scored on a 25-yard run to give Bexley a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, and the Lions led 10-7 following a 41-yard field goal by Will Gingery in the third. But the Rams (3-7, 2-5) scored 21 unanswered points after that.
Field hockey team falls in district semi
The field hockey team finished 9-5-4 with a 3-0 loss at third-seeded Thomas Worthington in a district semifinal Oct. 24. The fifth-seeded Lions defeated 11th-seeded Olentangy 6-0 in the first round Oct. 17 at home.
Girls soccer team drops district semi
The season ended for the girls soccer team with an 8-2 loss at top-seeded Granville in a Division II district semifinal Oct. 24.
The Lions, who were the fifth seed for the district tournament, finished 10-7-2.