The Tree of Life Christian School boys soccer team ended its season in a Division III district final, but it made program history by getting there.
Seeded sixth in the district, the Trojans lost to 2011 state champion and top-seeded Worthington Christian 4-0 in their first district final appearance Oct. 27 at Westerville Central to finish 11-7-2 overall.
Tree of Life defeated Harvest Prep 17-0 in the first round Oct. 17, fifth-seeded Delaware Christian 4-1 in the second round Oct. 20 and fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 3-2 in a district semifinal Oct. 24.
Another highlight for the Trojans was their third consecutive MOCAL championship. They went 4-0-1 to finish ahead of Delaware Christian (4-1), Gahanna Christian (2-2-1), Granville Christian (2-2-1), Madison Christian (1-3-1) and Grove City Christian (0-5).
Their lone league blemish was a 1-all tie against Gahanna Christian on Oct. 9.
"We graduated some really good seniors, but we had a very good base coming back, so we felt really good about our chances and what we could accomplish," coach Bryan Troast said. "I tried to make our regular-season schedule as hard as possible so by the time we got to the tournament, we would have seen it all and we would be prepared for whatever we faced."
Tree of Life loses eight seniors, including midfielder David Burton, who had 24 goals and 15 assists and was named MOCAL and district Player of the Year.
Senior defender Nate Durbin was first-team all-league and third-team all-district. Senior goalkeeper Josh Winkler (113 saves) and senior defenders Erick Boyer and Donnie Tong were second-team all-league and senior defender Dominic Badea and senior midfielder Jordan Dun were honorable mention all-league.
Expected to return are juniors Simms Boateng (defend-er/midfielder), Alexander Feldmann (midfielder), Trent Grubb (midfielder/forward), Joshua Haney (goalie), Anthony Howell (midfielder), Corbin Kitz-miller (defender) and Aaron Russell (forward/midfielder) and sophomores Jon Burton (midfielder) and Christopher Howell (midfielder/defender/forward). Russell had 17 goals and five assists and was first-team all-league and all-district and Burton had five goals and seven assists and was second-team all-league.
Boys golfers reached state for first time
The boys golf team reached the Division III state tournament for the first time in program history this fall.
The Trojans finished 10th (695) of 12 teams in the 36-hole state tournament Oct. 12 and 13 at NorthStar, behind champion Ashland Crestview (646).
Senior Mark David Wright tied Crestview's Bryce Lutz for fifth (153) of 72 golfers, behind champion Andrew Bieber of Gates Mills Gilmour Academy (144).
Wright made first-team all-state and all-district and was MOCAL Player of the Year. He had a team-best 37.7-stroke average for nine holes.
Also competing at state were juniors Robby Tipton (170, tied for 41st), Ryan Weilbacher (189, tied for 63rd) and George Homoelle (191, tied for 66th) and senior Joe Paliobagis (191, tied for 66th).
"It was one of our goals as a team," coach Scott Holahan said of qualifying for state. "We thought about it. I thought deep in my heart that we could do it."
The Trojans and Newark Catholic both shot 330 in the 12-team sectional Sept. 25 at Pine Hill, but the Green Wave won the tiebreaker for first on the fifth-player score. The top two teams advanced to district.
Wright led the Trojans with a 78.
In the 12-team district Oct. 2 at Cumberland Trail, Tree of Life was third (319) behind Wellington (309) and Columbus Academy (309). Wellington won the tiebreaker for first on the fifth-player score. The top four teams qualified for state, with Sugarcreek Garaway (321) also advancing.
Wright led the Trojans with a 73.
Tree of Life (174) won the MOCAL tournament Sept. 30 at Champions, ahead of Madison Christian (181), Grove City Christian (181), Fairfield Christian (187), Granville Christian (190) and Gahanna Christian (242).
Wright (39) finished second behind Grove City Christian's Cameron Michalak (38).
The Trojans were 7-1 in league dual matches.
Paliobagis (42.8 average) made first-team all-league. Tipton (43) and Weilbacher (44.6) were second-team all-league and Homoelle (45.8) and senior Caleb Holt (52.6) were honorable mention all-league.
Paliobagis was honorable mention all-district with an 80.
Senior Lindsay Augustyniak began the season on the boys team but switched to the girls team, which was formed early in the season.
Tree of Life finished last (580) in the 16-team Division II sectional Sept. 24 at Blacklick Woods behind champion Bexley (375). Granville (408) secured the fifth and final district-qualifying berth.
Augustyniak finished fifth (88) to secure the fifth and final individual district-qualifying spot and shot an 85 at district, four strokes behind the third and final individual state qualifier, Centerburg's Faithe Carr (81).
Augustyniak was second-team all-district.
Also competing at sectional were junior Stephanie Ly (129), freshman Talia Nutt (177) and senior Courtney Howell (186).
Girls soccer team sets team record for wins
The girls soccer team finished 10-5-1, representing the most wins in program history.
The Trojans lost to Grandview 2-0 in the second round of the Division III district tournament Oct. 18 after defeating West Jefferson 2-0 in the first round Oct. 15.
Junior midfielder Kasey Ticknor had 10 goals and 11 assists and was first-team all-district. Senior forward Hannah Murray, who had 17 goals and seven assists, senior defender Kailah Sanders and freshman goalie Megan King (80 saves) were third-team all-district.
Other players expected to return are junior Keirra Sanders (midfielder), sophomores Rachel Fallara (defender), Abigail Hanson (defender), Caroline Hanson (midfielder) and Erica Slogar (defender) and freshmen Elizabeth Bennett (defender), Kaitlyn Brooks (midfielder), Erika Grove (defender), Elizabeth Roberts (midfielder), Abby Russell (defender), Samantha Saunders (defender) and Alicia Tong (forward).
"We had a good group of seniors this year. Plus, we had a really good group of freshmen that came in this year," coach Mark Sherrod said. "They really stepped up and played really well for us."