With his team playing into a stiff wind during the first half of the Division II state final against Richfield Revere, Watterson High School boys soccer coach Chad Smith believed it was crucial for his team to stay within one goal by halftime.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, Revere scored twice in the first half en route to a 2-0 win Nov. 9 at Crew Stadium.
The Minutemen, who out-scored their opponents 101-11 this season, captured their first state title and finished 21-0-2. The Eagles, who lost to Dayton Carroll 4-1 in a semifinal in their only other state appearance in 2010, finished 18-5.
"I wanted to play with the wind in the first half because I thought it would help with the jitters of playing in this game for the first time, but they won the coin toss and chose to play with the wind," Smith said. "They came right at us and scored right away. I thought we could win this game if we could keep it close, but we had some trouble defensively in the first half."
The Minutemen took a 1-0 lead 3 minutes, 38 seconds into the game on a goal by forward Daniel Branch, who beat senior goalkeeper Trevor Funk with a low shot just inside the left post.
Assisting on the goal was defender Brandon Taylor, who passed the ball to Branch in the box.
"Brandon's a returning all-American and the Division II state Player of the Year, and he fed the ball to Daniel beautifully," Revere coach Sandor Jakab said. "With the wind at our backs, we felt added incentive to put a lot of pressure on their team right away, and getting that early goal was a darn good start."
Revere made it 2-0 with 8:34 left in the first half on a goal by midfielder Nolan Dyko.
Watterson had a handful of shots in the first half but none was on goal. The Eagles managed only one shot on goal with the wind at their backs in the second half, but the shot by senior forward Tommy Geraghty was stopped by Revere goalie Joel Gerberich with 21:20 left even though the ball deflected off of a Minutemen defender.
Funk finished with five saves.
"They were without question the team that held us out of their end the most and we had trouble getting any momentum started," Smith said. "I gave a big speech at halftime to get us going and I'm proud of our second-half effort."
Watterson beat Cincinnati Indian Hill 2-1 in overtime in a state semifinal Nov. 6 at Huber Heights Wayne.
Geraghty scored both of the Eagles' goals, including the winner on a header off of a corner kick, and Funk had eight saves.
"The first goal was all (junior midfielder) Brad Kanney," Geraghty said. "He hustled the ball to the 18-yard line and poked it to his right to me and I just finished it. On the second goal, (senior midfielder) Michael Gilbert served the ball to the back post and I went in hard and finished it. It felt amazing to score those goals and win that game."
The top seed in the district, Watterson began its postseason run with a 5-0 win over 16th-seeded Buckeye Valley on Oct. 17. It then defeated ninth-seeded Hartley 2-1 in a district semifinal Oct. 22 and second-seeded DeSales 1-0 in overtime in a district final Oct. 26 on a goal by junior forward Paul Mokrzan.
The Eagles then beat Vincent Warren 2-1 in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 behind two goals by senior forward Zach Storc and six saves by Funk and defeated Coshocton 2-1 in overtime in a regional final Nov. 2 behind goals by junior forward Sam Magee and senior defender Sam DeCocker.
"All of those close overtime wins and tournament wins were big highlights," Smith said.
Watterson also defeated DeSales during the regular season, winning 1-0 on Sept. 24 en route to earning a share of its first CCL title since 2004.
The Eagles went 3-1 in the CCL to tie St. Charles for first, ahead of DeSales (2-1-1), Hartley (1-2-1) and Ready (0-4).
"Both of the DeSales games were exciting," Geraghty said. "It felt great to beat them twice in one season."
The Eagles lose seven senior starters in Funk, DeCocker, Geraghty, Gilbert, Storc, midfielder Michael Guza and defender Mitch Werner.
Funk was named first-team all-district and all-league, Geraghty was second-team all-district and first-team all-league and Gilbert was honorable mention all-district and first-team all-league.
"The entire season was amazing and our seniors did a great job of leading us," Smith said.
Among those expected to return are four starters in Kanney, Mokrzan, junior defender Michael Harper and sophomore midfielder Matt Pardi and Magee.
Mokrzan was first-team all-district and all-league.
Field hockey team posted 12 victories
The field hockey team finished 12-7-1 overall and placed third in the Central Ohio Field Hockey League-East Division at 6-2 behind Columbus Academy (8-0) and Bexley (7-1) and ahead of Worthington Kilbourne (4-4), Hartley (3-4-1), New Albany (3-5), Columbus School for Girls (2-5-1), Granville (2-6) and Lancaster (0-8).
Seeded sixth in the district tournament, Watterson defeated 11th-seeded New Albany 6-0 in a play-in game Oct. 15, fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman 2-1 in the first round Oct. 17 and third-seeded Bexley 2-0 in a semifinal Oct. 22 before losing to second-seeded Academy 2-1 in a district final Oct. 26.
"I loved the way the team played in our tourney games," coach Janet Baird said. "The wins over Dublin Coffman and Bexley were significant and key wins against two very good teams. I also loved the way my team played against eventual state champion Academy. It was such a hard-fought game."
The Eagles lose six senior starters in midfielders Stephanie Polletta and Katie Santanello, attacker Leah Delp, defenders Molly Racher and Maria Swearingen and goalie Bridget Wagy.
Delp, who had a team-high 15 goals, and Swearingen were named first-team all-region and all-league and Polletta was second-team all-league. Wagy finished the season with 55 saves.
Among those expected back are five starters in juniors Amy Griffith (attacker) and Margaret McGowan (attacker) and sophomores Abby Marshall (midfielder), Olivia Pardi (defender) and Grace Thomas (attacker).
Marshall was second-team all-league.
"Replacing some of the seniors will be tough, especially our defense, including our goalie, and leading scorer Leah Delp," Baird said. "But these seniors left behind a wonderful legacy to the younger players and I like where we will be next season."
Tennis team won fifth straight CCL title
The girls tennis team finished 15-5 overall and went 4-0 in the CCL to win their fifth consecutive league championship.
CSG placed second in the CCL at 3-1, followed by DeSales (2-2), Hartley (1-3) and Ready (0-4).
Watterson had two Division I state qualifiers in singles in seniors Lauren Ghidotti and Courtney Brown.
Ghidotti went 3-1 and placed second at state, which was held Oct. 18 at Ohio State and Oct. 19 at Elysium Tennis Center. She opened with a 6-1, 2-6, 6-2 win over Mayfield's Jamie Vizelman and defeated Lodi Cloverleaf's Emily Dunbar 6-4, 6-3 and Dublin Jerome's Elle Bullock 6-2, 7-5 in a semifinal before losing to Cincinnati Ursuline Academy's Mehvish Safdar 6-1, 6-3 in the final.
Brown went 0-1 at state, losing to Massillon Jackson's Tessa Hill 6-0, 6-4 in the first round.
Ghidotti advanced to state by going 4-0 in the district tournament Oct. 11 and 12 at Hilliard Davidson, beating Brown 6-4, 6-2 in the final to win the district title. Brown went 3-1 and placed second at district, as the top four placers in singles and doubles qualified for state.
Also at district, the doubles teams of juniors Elise Miller and Sydney Simmons and juniors Mollie Godbout and Sophia Wible both went 0-1 and junior Maria Jeric went 0-1 in singles.
All seven of the Watterson players who competed in the sectional Oct. 3 and 5 at Upper Arlington advanced to district, with Ghidotti winning the sectional singles title.