DeSales High School girls soccer coach Bob McGee has devoted several postgame and post-practice speeches to the benefits of being aggressive on the field.
The Stallions have hit the portion of their schedule where they don't have a choice. They started a challenging four-game stretch with a 1-0 road loss to Granville on Sept. 25, lost 3-0 to then-unbeaten Pickerington North on Sept. 27, visited rival Watterson on Oct. 2 in a game that would decide the CCL championship and will play host to Division II power Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit on Oct. 6.
"We have been creating an incredible amount of opportunities to score," McGee said. "The problem this year is we're having difficulties finishing. We're getting into that area but we're not finding that final ball, that final finish and maybe making that good decision on where to place the ball when we're shooting."
The Stallions, who were 8-4-1 overall and 2-0-1 in the CCL before playing Watterson, scored 27 goals through 13 games. But 19 of those goals came in four games, wins over Jonathan Alder (6-2 on Aug. 28), Ready (5-1 on Sept. 6), Columbus School for Girls (4-1 on Sept. 11) and Big Walnut (4-1 on Sept. 20).
Senior midfielder Alvi Shivley led the Stallions with seven goals through 13 games, followed by junior forward Lydia Burke with five. An experienced defense led by senior and University of Dayton recruit Courtney Klosterman, senior Hannah Clark, juniors Grace Alguire and Maria Riley and freshman Jenna Hohman has helped the Stallions and sophomore goalkeeper Katya Barrett record four shutout victories through 13 games.
"Our goal is just to keep the ball in front of us and not let anything get behind us," junior defender Annamaria Pagani said. "As long as we'll do that, we'll be fine."
The Walsh Jesuit game will be DeSales' last before the Division II district tournament draw on Sunday, Oct. 7. The defending state champion Stallions end the regular season Oct. 11 at Hilliard Bradley.
If the Stallions hope to repeat last year's postseason performance, when they outscored their eight opponents 34-0 en route to winning the state championship.
"It's important that you play to make plays, not to give up plays, and that you're always looking to go forward," McGee said.
"We want the players to play to win in everything you do, not play to not lose. I think it's a big mentality. Sometimes some of us in some areas play not to lose. It's an aggressive game, a courageous game and you have to make plays happen. Sometimes if you don't go forward, you allow the other team to go forward."
Boys golfers finish fourth at sectional
The boys golf team fell short of advancing to the Division II district tournament, finishing fourth in a sectional Sept. 25 at Granville Golf Course after freshman Kyle Ransom was disqualified because of a score card issue.
The Stallions shot a 348, finishing one shot behind the final district qualifier, Lakewood (347). Bexley (320) and Caledonia River Valley (332) also advanced to district, which was held Oct. 3 at Granville.
DeSales was by junior Danny Helin, who shot an 81 to share medalist honors with Utica's Broc Stradley and qualify for district. Johnstown's John Carlisle, who shot an 82, also advanced individually.
"Danny played pretty steady," coach Tom Eckl said. "He was disappointed and thought he could have played better. We thought we had a pretty good round as a team, and it was a tough ending. It was disheartening. The guys were disappointed."
Rounding out DeSales' scoring were junior Ben Dumm (84), sophomore Jacob Erwin (87) and sophomore Dominic Ridley (96).
Helin qualified for state last season, shooting a 179 in the 36-hole tournament at NorthStar to tie for 35th behind champion Clark Engle of Springfield Shawnee (154). He shot a 4-over par 76 at district a year ago to advance to state.
Li earns area honor in girls tennis
Senior My Linh Li of the girls tennis team was named Columbus Tennis Association's Female Player of the Year at its annual banquet Sept. 27.
Li placed third in singles in the Division II state tournament last year, losing to Millersburg West Holmes' Rachel Nelson 6-1, 6-3 in a semifinal before defeating Cincinnati Country Day's Danielle Wolf 2-6, 6-3, 6-1 in the third-place match.
Li is the second seed in the sectional tournament Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Columbus School for Girls. She has a first-round bye and will play Madison Plains junior Brianna Zambori or Village Academy senior Elizabeth Smith in a second-round match.
Football team extends streak over Cardinals
The football team came back from a 10-7 deficit in the second quarter to beat St. Charles 28-16 in the CCL-Silver Division opener for both teams Sept. 28, marking the 36th consecutive win for the Stallions in their series with the Cardinals.
DeSales improved to 3-3 overall despite giving up 139 yards and one touchdown to St. Charles running back Sean Fitzmartin. The Cardinals outgained the Stallions 332-300 in total yards, including a 277-236 advantage on the ground.
Sayyid Kanu and LaShaun Sanders each had interceptions to lead DeSales' defense.
The Stallions will travel Saturday, Oct. 6, for their first meeting against Cincinnati Aiken, which fell to 0-6 with a 48-0 loss to Cincinnati Western Hills on Sept. 28.
Aiken may represent the final break of the season for DeSales, which plays Oct. 12 at Watterson, plays host to Cincinnati LaSalle on Oct. 19 and closes the regular season Oct. 26 at Charleston (W.Va.) George Washington.
The Stallions' final three opponents are a combined 11-6, with LaSalle having beaten Watterson 35-16 on Sept. 21.