Trailing 14th-seeded Westerville South 1-0 at halftime of a Division I district final, the players on the Canal Winchester High School boys soccer team maintained their confidence and composure.
That enabled the seventh-seeded Indians to rally for a 3-1 win Oct. 26 at Westerville Central to capture their first district championship.
Canal Winchester was 15-1-3 before playing Dublin Coffman in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Westerville Central.
"(The players) were down at the half of this game and not for a second at halftime did anyone think they were done," coach Erik Feinstein said. "They don't panic. I have kids who have played a lot of soccer. They've been down in games before."
Forward Tristan Daniels and midfielders Phillip Kelley and Brandon Pfeiffer each scored and goalkeeper Aaron Graber had six saves.
Daniels opened the Indians' scoring off of a throw-in by defender Daltyn Colley with 22 minutes, 36 seconds remaining and Pfeiffer scored off a rebound with 13:38 left to put the Indians ahead. Kelley added an insurance goal with 4:40 left.
"That was the biggest goal I've ever scored," said Pfeiffer, who splits starts with Graber in goal. "I just wanted to bury it on the ground, don't blow it over and just keep it inside the net.
"(Winning a district championship) feels awesome. It builds confidence for all our players. This is my last year playing (with) the other four seniors. We're not done. We can go all the way."
The regional semifinal winner will play defending state champion Olentangy Liberty or Hilliard Bradley in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at Dublin Jerome. Liberty was the top seed in the district and Bradley was seeded fourth.
Bradley handed the Indians their only loss this season, winning 1-0 in an OCC-Cardinal Division game Sept. 17.
The regional champion will face Beavercreek, Cincinnati Turpin, Mason or West Chester Lakota West in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, at a site to be determined. The state final is Nov. 9 at Crew Stadium.
"Hopefully, we still have four more wins in us," Feinstein said after the victory over Westerville South. "This is a great group of kids. They work together. They work for each other. They just play hard. There hasn't been a game they've given up."
The Indians defeated 21st-seeded Olentangy 2-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at home, as forward Sebastien Duque scored two goals and Pfeiffer had six saves.
"Every game, we always battle back," Pfeiffer said. "We're a team. We're brothers. If anything happens, we'll come back."
Football team set for season finale
The football team will conclude its season Friday, Nov. 1, at Dublin Scioto.
The Indians fell to 0-9 overall and 0-6 in the OCC-Cardinal with a 30-28 loss to visiting Westerville North on Oct. 25. That same night, Scioto dropped to 5-4 and 3-3 with a 34-28 overtime loss to Bradley.
Running back Darius McDonald led Scioto, rushing for 154 yards and a touchdown and scoring on a 90-yard kickoff return.
"We need to have a great last week of practice and show up ready to play on Friday," coach Shawn Hinkle said.
The Indians led Westerville North 7-6 at the end of the first quarter behind a 3-yard touchdown run by quarterback Nick Hammond and took a 14-6 lead in the second quarter on an 8-yard touchdown run by running back Lamont Martin.
Westerville North scored 18 consecutive points in the second quarter to take a 24-14 lead, but Hammond threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver William Totten to make it 24-21 heading into halftime.
With Westerville North leading 30-21 early in the fourth quarter, Hammond connected with running back Khari Golden on a 55-yard touchdown pass to close out the scoring for the Indians.
Hammond was 6-for-10 passing for 96 yards and two touchdowns, but the Indians turned the ball over twice and rushed for only 50 yards on 32 carries. Westerville North, which improved to 3-6 and 1-5, rushed for 343 yards.
"I cannot say that it was the best we have played this season," Hinkle said. "We made too many stupid mistakes that cost us the game. I can say that our kids battled until the very end. They did not quit."
Volleyball team falls in district semifinal
The girls volleyball team lost to second-seeded Dublin Coffman 25-18, 25-10, 25-11 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 23 at Bloom-Carroll to finish 12-13 overall.
"You hope for a day where everyone plays their best and this was a day for us where everybody played their worst," coach Kris Kern said. "Dublin Coffman's athletic and tall and you can't game plan for height."
Seeded 21st, Canal Winchester opened the district tournament with a 25-14, 25-22, 17-25, 25-22 win over 23rd-seeded Mount Vernon on Oct. 14 and defeated 37th-seeded Zanes-ville 27-25, 25-9, 25-18 in the second round Oct. 16 before falling to the Shamrocks.
The Indians went 6-8 in the OCC-Cardinal to place fifth, behind Bradley (12-2), Westerville Central (12-2), Scioto (11-3) and Westerville North (9-5) and ahead of Hilliard Darby and Westerville South (both 3-11) and Jerome (0-14).
"We were definitely competitive in the OCC," Kern said. "We weren't overmatched in any of our league competitions. We played very well in our first two tournament matches as well."
The Indians lose six seniors, including setter Kacey Bingmer, who was second-team all-league and all-district.
Expected to return are juniors Raven Hamilton (outside hitter), Paige Hughes (utility), Haley Webster (libero) and Waltenette Williams (defensive specialist), sophomores Taylor Griffin (outside hitter), Maddi Porter (defensive specialist) and Noelle Saeger (outside hitter) and freshman Mackenzie Hamilton (outside hitter).
Webster was named special mention all-league and Porter was honorable mention all-league.
Griffin (foot) and Raven Hamilton (knee) sustained season-ending injuries during the final week of the regular season.
"Kacey Bingmer will be tough to replace because we don't have a lot of experience backing her up," Kern said. "But our strength was our defense and we have our top defensive players coming back. We'll be fine as long as we develop a setter in time for next year."
Girls runners end season at regional
The girls cross country team ended its season in the 16-team Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North, as it finished last (390 points) behind champion Gahanna (90).
Sophomore Megan Tamasovich paced the Indians, finishing 62nd (20 minutes, 45.5 seconds) of 123 runners. Also competing were sophomore Cassidy Long (73rd, 20:58.37), senior Nicole Tennison (95th, 21:44.07), senior Natalie Tennison (103rd, 22:00.4), junior Julie Tennison (107th, 22:16.19), sophomore Joelle Zuberi (120th, 23:10.95) and sophomore Julia Cook (121st, 23:20.65).
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
The boys team did not have any regional qualifiers.