Watterson High School boys soccer coach Chad Smith made sure his players understood the importance of scoring in the first overtime of their Division II district final against DeSales on Oct. 26 at Westerville North.
The top-seeded Eagles won a coin flip for the right to select which direction they wanted to go in the first 15-minute, sudden-victory overtime. Smith chose to have the wind at his team's back, knowing that the second-seeded Stallions would have that advantage in the second overtime if neither team scored in the first.
Smith's players got the message, as forward Paul Mokrzan scored off an assist from forward Zach Storc with 9 minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the first overtime to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory for their second consecutive district title.
DeSales had the better of the play in the first half with the wind at its back and the Eagles carried the play in the second half with the wind at their back.
"Normally, we take the kick when we win the overtime coin toss, but my players didn't want to play into the wind in overtime," Smith said. "When we took the wind at our backs, I told our guys that they needed to win the game in the next 15 minutes because DeSales is a great team and I didn't want to give them the advantage of the wind again so late in the game."
Watterson was 15-4 before playing Vincent Warren in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Bloom-Carroll. The winner plays Coshocton, Lisbon Beaver or Minerva in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be determined.
The regional champion will play Bellbrook, Bexley, Cincinnati Indian Hill or Middletown Fenwick in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, at a site to be determined. The state final is Nov. 9 at Crew Stadium.
Watterson also beat DeSales 1-0 in their CCL contest Sept. 24, winning 1-0 on a goal by Mokrzan.
"We knew DeSales was coming after us in the tournament because they wanted revenge for us beating them in the regular season," Mokrzan said. "We got lucky with the coin toss and coach told us we needed to score while we had the wind on our side.
"I just saw Storc running down the (left) side of the field, so I ran right to split their defense. When he passed me the ball, I took an extra touch and then shot the ball. When I saw it go in the net, it was the best feeling in the world."
Goalkeeper Trevor Funk had five saves, including one with 55 seconds left in regulation, to help Watterson extend its winning streak to eight games.
With defenders Matt Pardi and Mitch Werner leading the way, the Eagles allowed just one goal in their first three postseason games.
"Trevor Funk is one of the best goalkeepers in the state and our defense has been outstanding in the tournament," Smith said.
Watterson defeated ninth-seeded Hartley 2-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home, as Storc and midfielder Michael Guza scored and Funk had two saves. The Eagles also had beaten the Hawks during the regular, winning 3-0 on Sept. 5 en route to winning their first CCL title since 2004.
"Beating Hartley and DeSales in the same week to win our district is a moment that none of us will ever forget," Smith said. "It's hard to beat a good team once, and to beat a good program twice in one season takes a lot of guts."
Last year, Watterson lost to Cincinnati Indian Hill 1-0 in a regional semifinal.
"This is where it gets really fun for us because we get to travel across the state to play teams we don't normally see," Smith said. "The key for us is to keep our composure because as the tournament goes on, these games get and feel bigger. We've had moments this year where we've lost our focus for a moment and it has cost us a few times, and we need to avoid that by maintaining our focus throughout the tournament."
Girls soccer team wins district title
The sixth-seeded girls soccer team upset fourth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 1-0 in overtime in a Division I district final Oct. 26 at Gahanna to capture its second district title in three years.
Center midfielder Ellie Gantz scored with less than two minutes remaining in the first 15-minute, sudden-victory overtime and goalie Marissa Wierzbicki had three saves to lead the Eagles, who had tied Liberty at 1 on Sept. 12.
Watterson was 12-2-4 before playing Hilliard Davidson in a regional semifinal Oct. 29 at Dublin Jerome. The winner will play Marysville or Pickerington North in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be determined.
The Eagles did not play Davidson, Marysville or Pickerington North during the regular season.
"Everything happened so fast that it was almost a blur in my memory," Gantz said of her goal. "I just saw the ball go over Liberty's defenders and I got to it first, got a touch on it and shot it over their goalie. That was definitely the biggest goal of my soccer career and it was the best feeling ever to score in a district final.
"This was a great team effort and winning a district championship means the world to all of us."
The regional champion will play Cincinnati Loveland, Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy, Cincinnati Walnut Hills or Mason in a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 5, at a site to be determined.
"We haven't won (regional) to make it to state since 1988, but I think we can do it if we continue to play as a team," Gantz said. "When we work together, nothing can stop us."
Watterson defeated 13th-seeded Westerville South 3-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at home, as forward Erin Adams scored all three goals and Wierzbicki had four saves.
Football team clings to playoff hopes
The football team has a 2-6 record and has lost its last three games, but it still can make the Division IV, Region 13 playoffs if it wins Friday, Nov. 1, at Jonathan Alder and gets some help.
Watterson was projected to be 10th in the region's computer ratings that were to be released by the OHSAA on Oct. 29. The top eight teams in the region qualify for the playoffs.
The Eagles are coming off of a 20-14 loss to host St. Charles on Oct. 25. They went 0-2 in the CCL-Silver Division to finish third behind the champion Cardinals (2-0) and DeSales (1-1).
The league championship is St. Charles' first since 1962.
Watterson continues to be hindered by its offensive production, or lack thereof. The Eagles are averaging just 9.4 points.
Against St. Charles, quarterback Sam Maglicic rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries but completed six of 13 passes for just 41 yards and was intercepted twice. Running back Cody Calhoun rushed for 37 yards on 10 carries and running back Walter Green had 36 yards on eight carries.
That trio will try to be more productive against Jonathan Alder, whose defense is led by linebacker Chandler Ferko and defensive back Austin Gaylor. The Pioneers, who are 3-6, are giving up an average of 23.8 points.
The teams that Jonathan Alder has lost to have a combined record of 42-12. The teams that have beaten Watterson are a combined 36-17.
Linebackers Eli Kirk and Patrick Roark and lineman Kyle Fada lead the Eagles' defense, which is allowing an average of 17.4 points.
Roark had an interception and a fumble recovery against St. Charles, but the Eagles failed to score on either ensuing possession.
In Jonathan Alder's 42-7 loss to North Union on Oct. 25, quarterback John Jewett was 12-for-28 passing for 144 yards with two interceptions. The Pioneers were held to 58 yards rushing.
Field hockey team falls in district final
The sixth-seeded field hockey team lost to second-seeded Columbus Academy 2-1 in a district final Oct. 26 at Jerome to finish 12-7-1.
Midfielder Stephanie Polletta scored and goalie Bridget Wagy had four saves.
"They're that caliber of a team," coach Janet Baird said of Academy, which is the defending state champion. "They bring out the best in us and I think we bring out the best in them.
"It has been a great season. It has been more than wonderful. Obviously, we would have liked to get to the next step, but if you have to go out, this is the type of game you want to go out on."
The Eagles defeated third-seeded Bexley 2-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 22, as attackers Leah Delp and Amy Griffith scored and Wagy had one save.
Passwater, Connors end season at regional
Junior Jessica Passwater and sophomore Meghan Connors represented the girls cross country team in the Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
Passwater placed 51st (20:33.89) of 123 runners and Connors finished 81st (21:10.82).
The top 16 individuals at regional advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
The boys team did not have any regional qualifiers.