DeSales High School boys soccer coach Domenic Romanelli liked the majority of what he saw from his team in winning five of its first seven games.
One of the Stallions' losses came at longtime nemesis Dayton Carroll, 1-0 on Sept. 7.
"On the way home, it felt like we lost in the (Division II) tournament and we were done for the year," Romanelli said. "Part of me loved seeing that. I liked their post-match demeanor. The guys really wanted it."
DeSales has had its season come to an end at the hands of Carroll three times in the past five years, losing 2-0 in a state semifinal in 2011, 2-0 in a regional final in 2010 and 2-1 in a state semifinal in 2008.
The teams met last year during the regular season, playing to a 1-all tie.
DeSales knows that it could run into Carroll again in the regional or state tournament, but it is focusing on more immediate goals. After having seven days off last week before a 2-1 win over visiting Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary on Sept. 14, the Stallions began a stretch of four games in eight days Sept. 17 when they played Hartley in a CCL game.
DeSales, which was ranked sixth in the Division II state poll last week, began league play with an 8-0 win over Ready on Sept. 5.
"We've been playing really well, but we're not playing the way we want to. We're still getting better and trying to peak at the right time," said junior midfielder Peter Marth, who has seen time at defender in the wake of a concussion sustained by senior Mack Beidler. "The CCL (schedule) is beginning, so that's exciting. We're excited to see how the rest of the season can go."
Freshman forward Brady Krietemeyer had a team-high five goals through seven games, followed by junior Jordan Brooks (4) and Marth (3). Sophomore keeper J.P. Baughman had a season-high 13 saves in a 2-1 loss to Bay Village Bay on Aug. 24.
"Everybody is getting their chance and stepping up when they get the chance. That's what this team is about," Marth said. "Everybody's going to do their part and do it well."
A small roster has prevented Romanelli from making too many lineup changes, even if injuries occur.
"We need a finisher," he said. "Brooks had an open shot (against Carroll) and he hit it wide. We've had opportunities. We have scorers, but they're not necessarily playing up front. Every night someone else steps up. (Junior defender) Jared (Pressley) has to hold our back, and Peter and (sophomore) Antonio (Romanelli) have to hold our midfield. Those three guys, throw one of them up top -- and we did with Antonio against Carroll -- and maybe things change.
"We're still toying a little bit. We haven't done a lot."
Changes don't faze girls volleyball team
Despite undergoing a coaching change and being in a new division, the girls volleyball team served notice that it's business as usual with a 25-21, 25-21, 25-19 win over visiting Hartley on Sept. 10 in an early meeting of CCL powers.
The Stallions, who were a Division II state semifinalist last season, were 10-0 overall and 3-0 in the CCL before playing Watterson on Sept. 17. They were sixth in the Division I state poll last week.
Asked about his team's identity through the first month of the season, first-year coach Andy Feltz pointed to several areas.
"I don't know if I can put my finger on it because it's been a little bit different every match," he said. "We've had some matches where we've been scrappy and just fought real hard. We've had some where we've moved the ball around and just dominated offensively. (Against Hartley) was an all-around real good performance from our defenders and our blockers, but I think what got it done was definitely our aggressive serving."
According to Feltz, 5-foot-11 senior middle/outside hitter Kenya Cason paces the front-row effort with 5-10 senior outside hitter Kendall Witt, senior right-side hitter Coley Tuel and junior middle blockers Jamie Durbin and Katie Evans.
Cason is a University of Connecticut recruit.
Feltz also lauded his team's serve-receive and the efforts of junior setter/defensive specialist Abby Julian and sophomore setter Julia Brown.
"Most of our practices, we do serve and service-receives for the first 45 minutes," Brown said. "I think that is key to success in a (match). I think serving is so important because it gets the other team out of their system, and serve-receive is the next-most important thing because you can't play without a pass."
Feltz and Brown agreed a 25-23, 20-25, 25-14, 25-19 win over Dublin Coffman on Sept. 4 told the Stallions that they could hold their own in Division I. Coffman has won six consecutive OCC and district championships and was the state runner-up in 2009 and 2010.
"To come out (with a win) really set the girls' minds toward that goal of being in the Division I final four," Feltz said. "With more hard work, we have a chance to get there."
Girls golfers post season-best round
The girls golf team worked its way up the MOGGL ladder this season, finishing second with a season-best 194 behind Watterson (164) in the last of four rounds Sept. 10 at Willow Run.
Senior Rachel Putnam shot a 48 to lead the Stallions, followed by sophomore Kaelin Kelly and junior Kenzie Kotton with a 49 and freshman Julia Keating with a 50.
While Putnam has been the team's top player virtually the entire season, Keating also has been a key contributor.
"She's given the team a real boost and she's very much enjoying her time on varsity," coach Jeff Montenaro said of Keating. "(Sept. 10) was by far the best we've played all year. Having four girls at 50 or under is a real accomplishment for this team."
DeSales placed fourth once and fifth twice in the first three rounds of the MOGGL tournament and finished with a 23-14 league record.
Seniors Lisa Deakin and Emily Mosca and junior Gabby Marino also have seen playing time this year as the Stallions' lineup has remained fluid.
"We really didn't have a true (Nos.) 2-6," Montenaro said. "No one particularly established themselves or staked a claim to one spot, and that allowed us to get different girls time on varsity. It's been a bit of a struggle finding consistency."