Watterson High School boys soccer coach Chad Smith thought it was critical for his team to score while it had a strong wind at its back after allowing a goal four minutes into a Division II district final against Big Walnut.
The second-seeded Eagles stepped up to the challenge, scoring two goals within the next 20 minutes en route to earning a 2-1 victory over seventh-seeded Big Walnut on Oct. 27 at Westerville Central.
The district championship is Watterson's third, with the others coming in 2007 and 2010.
The Eagles improved to 12-4-3 and advanced to play Cincinnati Indian Hill in a regional semifinal Oct. 31. The winner plays Bellbrook or Dayton Carroll in a regional final at noon Saturday, Nov. 3, at a site to be determined.
The regional champion will face Bexley, Dover, Minerva or Vincent Warren in a state semifinal on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at a site to be determined. The state final will be held Nov. 10 at Crew Stadium.
"The wind was a big factor and if Big Walnut took a 1-0 lead into halftime we may not have been able to come back and win this game," Smith said. "I never want to see my team give up goals, but sometimes I almost like it when we're down a goal because our guys always seem to become more focused and play harder. Luckily, we still had enough time to answer Big Walnut's goal with two goals of our own while we still had the wind at our back."
Ten minutes after Austin Foor scored for Big Walnut, midfielder Dominic Smith centered the ball with a bicycle kick from the corner and forward Tommy Geraghty headed it into the top right corner of the net.
"I wasn't facing the goal so a bicycle kick was my only option," Dominic Smith said. "I just tried to put the ball into play and hoped for the best, and (Geraghty) was in the right position to finish the play.
"This championship means a lot to the seniors on the team because we were sophomores when we won the district and regional in 2010, and we're now the most successful class in our program's history."
Less than 10 minutes later, forward Paul Mokrzan scored what would hold up as the winning goal.
"All week long we talked about playing together and keeping things simple and that's how we were able to win this game," coach Smith said. "The one exceptional play was our first goal. Bicycle kicks almost never work, but Dominic had a gorgeous feed and Tommy made a great play to head the ball into the goal. That's one of the more beautiful goals I've seen in a high school game."
Watterson beat 10th-seeded Licking Heights 4-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at home, as midfielder Bryan Luckscheiter, Mokrzan, midfielder Conner DeSantis and midfielder Mitch Werner scored.
"The boys came out focused and stuck to the game plan," coach Smith said. "We scored (1:10 into the game), and that helped us relax and play very solid and consistent as a team."
Field hockey team wins district title
The second-seeded field hockey team beat third-seeded and defending state champion Thomas Worthington 1-0 in a district final on Oct. 27 at Dublin Jerome.
With eight minutes remaining, Stephanie Polletta passed the ball to Alessandra Margello, who fired a shot into left corner of the cage.
"Stephanie crossed it to me and I was able to hit it high over the goalie so she couldn't make a save on it," Margello said. "It feels great to beat Thomas Worthington for this championship because they beat us in this game the past two years. We're on cloud nine right now."
The Eagles improved to 18-1 and will compete against Shaker Heights Hathaway Brown in a state semifinal at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at Upper Arlington. Hathaway Brown is 15-3-1.
Watterson beat Hathaway Brown 2-1 on Sept. 22.
"Hathaway Brown is really strong with its field play and they were the first team that scored on us this season, so it was a good wake-up call that we needed to play even better defense," defender Elizabeth Racher said. "We'll need to keep our heads and have good teamwork to win this game."
The winner plays Columbus Academy or Cincinnati Ursuline in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3, at UA.
Both Academy and Ursuline are 17-0-1. Watterson lost to Academy 1-0 in overtime on Oct. 11.
"We just have to play more fundamentally sound in the state tournament," coach Janet Baird said. "Our scoring has been spread out all year, so we'll need someone to step up when they have the opportunity because you don't get many against teams that are this good."
The Eagles also beat sixth-seeded Dublin Coffman 1-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at the Park of Roses, as Leah Delp scored with 10 minutes remaining in the game.
Girls soccer team falls in district final
The fifth-seeded girls soccer team lost to fourth-seeded Hilliard Davidson 2-1 in a Division I district final Oct. 27 at Canal Winchester.
Allie Demboski scored for the Eagles, who finished 12-6.
Watterson beat visiting Olentangy 2-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 23, as Demboski and Maggie McCarthy scored and goalie Marissa Wierzbicki had one save.
Boys runners end season at regional
The boys cross country team scored 212 points to place eighth in the 16-team Division II regional meet Oct. 27 at Troy behind champion Springfield Shawnee (40).
Mark Guza led the Eagles, finishing 34th of 123 runners in 17:48.24. Also competing were Alec Pratt (47th, 17:57.88), Max McClelland (53rd, 18:00.38), Sam Kayuha (55th, 18:02), Mark Widerschein (77th, 18:24.99), Jordan Lucki (103rd, 19:07.61) and Eddie Passen (108th, 19:51.12).
The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway. Dayton Chaminade Julienne (141) secured the final team state-qualifying spot and Eaton's Branson Bennett (17:13.26) secured the final individual qualifying berth.
Football team secures spot in playoffs
The football team is back in the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons after beating Jonathan Alder 27-19 on Oct. 26.
After going 3-7 a year ago, the Eagles are 7-3 and earned the fifth seed in Division III, Region 10. They will travel Saturday, Nov. 3, to Bryan, which is 10-0 and making its first postseason appearance since 2009.
Watterson and Caledonia River Valley, which earned the eighth seed, are the only teams from the Central District to advance to the Region 10 playoffs. Napoleon is the top seed, followed by Bellevue and Urbana. Sandusky Perkins and Elida are seeded sixth and seventh, respectively.
Watterson beat Elida 21-7 in a regional semifinal in 2010 during its state championship run and beat Napoleon 6-3 in a regional semifinal in 2009 on the way to a regional runner-up finish. The Eagles defeated Bellevue 28-6 in a regional semifinal in 2004 before competing in Division II, Region 7 from 2005-08.
In last week's state poll, Napoleon was ranked first, Bryan was tied with Dayton Thurgood Marshall for third and Bellevue was eighth.