For as much fun as DeSales High School boys soccer coach Domenic Romanelli expects to have this year, he has given not-so-subtle reminders to his team that the Stallions are long overdue for a championship.
DeSales hasn't won a title of any sort since a Division II regional championship in 2011, the tail end of a five-year stretch in which the Stallions made four state tournament appearances. DeSales has finished second and third in the CCL in the past two years before losing in Division II district finals.
But despite losing six players to graduation, DeSales returns two of its top three scorers from last year in sophomore forward Brady Krietemeyer (9 goals) and junior midfielder Antonio Romanelli (8).
Antonio Romanelli, a three-year starter, was district Player of the Year.
"More so this year than the past few, I really think we're in for a long (postseason) run," said coach Romanelli, whose team went 10-7-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the CCL last year, losing to Watterson 1-0 in overtime in a district final. "We're a little hungry. We've gone home empty-handed two straight years. We feel like we've got to win the CCL and put ourselves in position to take that next step."
The Stallions open at home Thursday, Aug. 21, against Columbus Academy.
Junior goalkeeper J.P. Baughman is back for his second year as a starter, behind a unit of defenders that consists of seniors Lucas Agin and Matt Higgins, junior Drew Schwenk and sophomore Anthony Salmaron. The midfield consists of seniors Ryan Carson, Peter Marth, Jared Pressley and Collin Sebedra, junior Zane Cook, Antonio Romanelli, sophomores Juan Ovalle and Patrick Mulligan and freshmen Zack Garrett and Hector Gomez.
According to coach Romanelli, some of the midfielders probably will see time as forwards.
"What's going to be fun about this team is we have a lot of soccer players who really understand the game. They have good soccer sense," he said. "The one negative, if this is a negative, is that we're not very deep. We might be 13-deep, then it falls off a little bit. Guys like Antonio and Peter, it's hard to ride them for 80 minutes. We need a few more 10- to 15-minute guys who can give the others a rest."
DeSales begins CCL play Sept. 9 at St. Charles, which shared the league title with Watterson last year at 3-1.
Girls soccer team reloading with youth
In his second season, girls soccer coach Matt D'Auteuil hopes the Stallions are set up for sustained success.
While DeSales has just three seniors in forward Katya Barrett, goalie Isabella Connolly and midfielder Emily Ripke, the Stallions have 11 juniors, three sophomores and three promising freshmen.
"We're a young team," said D'Auteuil, whose team went 10-6-2 overall and 3-1 in the CCL last year. "Basically this team will be together for the next two years. A lot of the juniors have stepped up as far as taking control, knowing there is no one else there."
DeSales began its season with a 4-all tie at Grove City on Aug. 16. Junior midfielder Gigi Howard scored two goals, Ripke and sophomore forward Bella Shivley added one each and Connolly made 15 saves.
The Stallions, whose first CCL game is Sept. 4 at Columbus School for Girls, lost two of their top three scorers from last year in Maria Burke (5 goals) and Erin Kuisti (4). Shivley scored four goals.
Barrett was the Stallions' starting goalie in 2012, when DeSales lost to Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit 5-0 in the Division II state final, and alternated with Connolly in goal throughout last season.
"(Barrett) is a great athlete," D'Auteuil said. "We needed speed up top and (Barrett) has that. She gives everything to the team."
The junior class consists of midfielders Logan Agin, Kelly Green, Howard, Abby Mulligan and Vicky Randall, defenders Morgan Barrett, Paige Gilliland and Jenna Hohman, forward Haley Hott, backup goalie Abby Risinger and forward/midfielder Sydney Wilson.
Gilliland, however, will miss the season because of a torn ACL.
The rest of the roster consists of sophomore defenders Clara Culhane and Jaclyn Gilmore, freshman midfielder Camy Bury, freshman defender Talia Kruezer and versatile freshman Gabie Soto.
D'Auteuil admits the Stallions are as excited to make a deep postseason run as they are to contend for the CCL championship. DeSales lost to Bexley 2-0 in a district final last year and was second in the CCL behind Watterson (4-0).
"Bexley lit a fire under us," D'Auteuil said. "They are champing at the bit to go because a lot of these kids weren't involved with the state (tournament) teams. They don't have the taste of a long, deep run in the tournament. They are absolutely ready to go, and I am too.
"I hate to use the word 'revenge,' but they are ready to put their mark on the program."
Aug. 21 -- vs. Columbus Academy
Aug. 23 -- at Bay Village Bay
Aug. 30 -- vs. Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit
Sept. 4 -- vs. Pickerington Central
Sept. 6 -- vs. Dayton Carroll
*Sept. 9 -- at St. Charles
Sept. 13 -- Great Midwest Classic at Indianapolis North Central
*Sept. 16 -- vs. Ready
Sept. 18 -- at Olentangy Orange
Sept. 23 -- at Granville
Sept. 25 -- at Hilliard Bradley
*Sept. 30 -- vs. Hartley
Oct. 4 -- at Youngstown Mooney
*Oct. 7 -- vs. Watterson
Oct. 9 -- at Dublin Jerome
Aug. 16 -- at Grove City
Aug. 19 -- at Johnstown
Aug. 23 -- at Bay Village Bay
Aug. 26 -- vs. Jonathan Alder
Aug. 28 -- at Pickerington Central
Sept. 2 -- at Granville
*Sept. 4 -- at Columbus School for Girls
*Sept. 11 -- vs. Ready
Sept. 13 -- vs. Westerville North
Sept. 18 -- vs. Westerville South
Sept. 23 -- at Bexley
*Sept. 25 -- at Hartley
Sept. 27 -- vs. Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown
*Oct. 2 -- vs. Watterson
Oct. 4 -- vs. Dublin Coffman
Oct. 11 -- vs. Worthington Christian