During the DeSales High School girls lacrosse team's 18-6 win over Delaware on May 9, several Stallions fans remarked how they thought their team was in a much better place than it was at this time last season.
The Stallions had a chance to prove that May 13 when they opened the Division II South/Central Region tournament at home against Cincinnati Mother of Mercy, which ended their season last year with a 12-7, first-round victory. But coach Joe Finotti said his team, which was 11-4-1 overall before playing Mother of Mercy, didn't need to win that game for confirmation.
Finotti called the defense the anchor of the Stallions' success. DeSales allowed an average of 7.3 goals through 16 games.
"Our defense has really been the glue," he said. "Not to take anything away from our attack, but it all starts with our defense and making the stops. We preach to them about slides and help defense because it's not just one girl that can stop the ball. They've bought into it."
Senior Kierra Graham has helped lead the unit that has made life easier for senior goalkeeper Meredith Lloyd. Other key contributors on defense include juniors Maria Burkey, Kaitlyn Doran and Maggie Simon and sophomore Julia Daniels.
"When we talk and we're working together and can play and can work as a team, we're almost unstoppable," said Lloyd, who cited a 9-4 win over Olentangy Orange on April 11 as a turning point, even though that was only the third game of the season. "That was when it clicked. We started talking and realized when we are quiet, things just don't work as well."
Wins over Franklin Fenwick (13-5) and Cleveland Heights Beaumont (10-3) in the Hannigan-Galipault Tournament on April 13 at Thomas Worthington only strengthened DeSales' resolve.
"We knew we could beat some good teams, but we didn't have the confidence," Simon said. "Coach has always stressed our defense, so we work really hard in practice. We've done a great job of coming back and helping out."
The first-round winner will visit Cincinnati Mariemont in the second round Thursday, May 16. That winner will play host to Cincinnati Country Day, Cincinnati Summit Country Day or Dayton Chaminade Julienne in a regional semifinal Tuesday, May 21, with the semifinal winner playing at top-seeded New Albany, Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Dayton Miami Valley School, Granville or Wellington in a regional final May 23.
DeSales defeated Granville 7-2 on April 9 and Wellington 12-4 on April 25.
"Our goal was 10 or more wins, and we achieved that," Finotti said. "I like where we are. And maybe getting to host a regional semifinal, that would be great for the program."
Boys tennis team set for sectional tourney
Sonny DiMichaelangelo of the boys tennis team earned the fourth seed in singles for the Division II sectional tournament Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 18, at Columbus Academy.
The junior will play Africentric's Jerome Gordon or Isiah Ware in his first match.
Also in singles, sophomore Kevin Boyer will open against Buckeye Valley's Jack Baesman and senior Nick Hancart will face Bloom-Carroll's Daniel Danford in his opening match.
Both of the Stallions' doubles teams received first-round byes. Senior Stephan Ganobsik and Quinn Verfurth will play Buckeye Valley's Bryon French and P.J. Roden or London's Colin Dach and Drew Sollars in their opening match and junior Mack Beidler and freshman Lee Schockling will play Whitehall's Ahmed Abokor and Brandon Mitchell or West Jefferson's Evan Golden and Handley Sayre in their opener.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 24 and 25 at Columbus Academy.
DeSales entered the week 1-10 overall and 1-2 in the CCL.
Boys volleyball team cruises to tourney win
Seeded first in the Division II East Region tournament, the boys volleyball team swept Licking Heights 25-8, 25-11, 25-13 in a first-round match May 11 at Watterson.
The Stallions improved to 19-3 and advanced to play Watterson, which they swept in CCL play, in a regional semifinal May 15 at Buckeye Valley. The winner will play second-seeded Mount Vernon or third-seeded Dublin Scioto in a regional final at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 18, at Hilliard Davidson.
The regional champion will play Chaminade Julienne, Dayton Carroll, Fairborn, Kettering Alter, Middletown Fenwick or Trenton Edgewood in a state semifinal May 25 at Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit.
DeSales defeated Mount Vernon 25-20, 25-23, 25-17 on May 4 but did not play Scioto during the regular season.
Baseball team aiming for deep tourney run
The baseball team was seeded 11th of 26 teams in the Division II district tournament and faced the prospect of having to get through three top-10 seeds to win a third consecutive district championship.
DeSales, which entered the week 11-15 overall and finished 4-4 in the CCL, opened the postseason at home against 19th-seeded Brookhaven on May 14. The winner plays ninth-seeded Sparta Highland or 20th-seeded Whitehall in the second round Thursday, May 16, on the home field of the higher seed.
The second-round winner will play fifth-seeded Big Walnut, 15th-seeded Caledonia River Valley or 23rd-seeded Mifflin in a district semifinal Monday, May 20, at Davidson. The semifinal winner likely will play top-seeded Granville or seventh-seeded Hamilton Township in a district final Wednesday, May 22, at Beavers Field in Lancaster.
The Stallions were swept by Granville in a doubleheader April 27, losing 4-1 and 13-3 in five innings.
Top seeds might stand in softball team's way
Entering the week 10-10 overall, the softball team was seeded ninth of 27 teams in the Division II district tournament and began its trek toward what it hopes will be a district title with a first-round home game May 13 against 25th-seeded Mifflin.
The winner played 11th-seeded Independence or 15th-seeded Eastmoor Academy in a second-round game May 15. The second-round winner plays second-seeded Lakewood, 17th-seeded Beechcroft or 24th-seeded Walnut Ridge in a district semifinal Monday, May 20, at Pickerington Central.
The semifinal winner likely will play third-seeded Licking Valley or 10th-seeded Utica in a district final May 25 at Pickerington Central.
DeSales did not play any of those possible opponents during the regular season.
Track teams set for CCL meet, postseason
The track and field teams will compete in the CCL meet Thursday, May 16, and Saturday, May 18, at Columbus School for Girls.
DeSales then will shift its attention to the postseason. The boys team will compete in the Division II, district 1 meet that begins Tuesday, May 21, continues Wednesday, May 22, and concludes May 25 at Westerville South. Those same days, the girls team will compete in the Division I, district 2 meet at Hilliard Darby.
The top four finishers in each district event advance to regional. The Division I meet will be held May 29 and 31 at Pickerington North and the Division II meet will be held May 30 and June 1 at Lexington.
Postseason road unclear for boys lacrosse team
The boys lacrosse team was 7-4 before playing Bexley in its regular-season finale May 15, but it entered the week not knowing who would be its next opponent.
The Stallions, who are the defending Division II state champions, will find out their path toward what they hope will be another state title Sunday, May 19, during the Ohio High School Lacrosse Association tournament draw.
Senior attacker J.T. Blubaugh, an Ohio State signee who recently returned from an injury, had four goals and sophomore attacker Nick Cannon scored three in an 11-10 overtime loss to Worthington Kilbourne on May 10.