Jamie Dato has stepped down as coach of the Grove City High School boys soccer team after leading the program for six seasons, citing the desire to spend more time with his family as the reason.
Dato, who teaches at Westland, is married with two young children.
"I knew it was the right decision when I told my oldest (child) that my season was over and he cheered and said, 'We'll finally get to see daddy ...,'" he said. "I want to be able to do more with my family and be able to watch or coach my 7-year-old in whatever he chooses to do. Soccer makes it hard during the summer and fall to be able to do that."
Grove City finished 10-7-1 overall this season, losing to 29th-seeded Lancaster 4-3 in double overtime Oct. 19 in the second round of the Division I district tournament. Seeded 15th, the Greyhounds defeated 19th-seeded Westerville North 2-1 in the first round Oct. 16.
Grove City went 5-1-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division to place second, behind Gahanna (7-0) and ahead of Pickerington North (4-1-2), Reynoldsburg (4-3), Lancaster (3-4), Pickerington Central (1-4-2), Groveport (0-5-2) and Newark (0-6-1).
The Greyhounds lose 12 seniors, including midfielders Tyler Dunn (11 goals, 18 assists) and Brendan Sullivan (11 goals, 4 assists), forward Brendan Mountain (12 goals, 3 assists), defenders Scottie Luchini and Tryston Tanner and goalkeeper Alex Farkas (122 saves).
Dunn and Mountain were named first-team all-league. Luchini and Sullivan were second-team all-league and Farkas and Tanner were special mention and honorable mention all-league, respectively.
Among the expected returnees are junior defender Garrett Wise, who made first-team all-league, and junior midfielder Kevin Hull (8 goals, 3 assists), who was second-team all-league.
Also expected back are juniors Orion Davis (defender), Matt Markham (goalie) and Luke Yosick (midfielder; 2 goals, 4 assists) and sophomores Jonah Monhemius (midfielder; 4 goals) and Trace White (defender).
"Having 12 of our 19 players as seniors meant a lot to the program," Dato said. "At any one time, my 11 players on the field could have been seniors, so almost everything we accomplished this year can be attributed to them. They were also a positive influence on the underclassmen, which got the best out of them."
Grove City girls team reached district semi
The Grove City girls team finished 14-4 overall, losing in a Division I district semifinal for the third consecutive year.
Seeded eighth in the district, the Greyhounds had a first-round bye and defeated 22nd-seeded Westerville North 2-1 in the second round Oct. 17 before falling to 12th-seeded Marysville 4-0 on Oct. 22.
Grove City went 5-2 in the OCC-Ohio to tie Pickerington Central for second, behind Pickerington North (7-0) and ahead of Gahanna (4-2-1), Reynoldsburg (3-3-1), Lancaster (2-5), Newark (1-6) and Groveport (0-7).
Senior forward Ashley Artrip had a team-high 22 goals and five assists and was named first-team all-district and all-league.
Senior midfielder Kendra White (2 goals, 8 assists) also made first-team all-league and senior midfielder Jen Draper (6 goals, 8 assists), senior forward Maddy Kruki (8 goals, 5 assists) and sophomore defender Lindsay Jones each was second-team all-league. Junior defender Megan Farr was special mention all-league and sophomore forward Riley Bowyer (6 goals, 9 assists) was honorable mention all-league.
Rounding out the nine-player senior class are forward Cierra Coonrod, defender Marie Mayers, midfielder Grace Monhemius and goalies Taylor Metheny and Abby Swearingen.
"This has been a great senior class with Cierra Coonrod, Maddy Kruki, Marie Mayers, Taylor Metheny and Kendra White being four-year players," said coach Josh Keller, who completed his fifth season leading the program. "They have been a great group that has meant a lot to the program."
In addition to Bowyer, Farr and Jones, expected back are juniors Makenna Allmon (midfielder; 5 goals, 5 assists), Amanda Baker (midfielder; 5 goals, 3 assists) and Hannah Davis (midfielder) and sophomores Xochitl Cajigal (goalie; 72 saves), Natalie Cooper (forward; 5 goals, 3 assists), Andrea Luchini (defender), Tyler Ryan (midfielder; 7 goals, 4 assists) and Jenna Taylor (defender).
"We're in good shape defensively, but we lose a lot up front," Keller said. "The younger kids will have to step up."