The Westland High School boys soccer team took part in a long-awaited celebration after its game at Hilliard Davidson on Sept. 11.
Although the teams played to a scoreless tie in the OCC-Central Division contest, it marked the first time in Dan Heckler's nine seasons as Westland coach that the Cougars had not lost to Davidson. The Wildcats have dominated the series, winning the previous six meetings by a combined score of 39-3.
"It's not a win, but it's a tie against a good, strong program," Heckler said. "This is motivation because we thought we could do this and proved it as a team. It was really fun."
Senior goalkeeper Shawn Draper played a major role in the tie, finishing with nine saves. Play was in Westland's defensive zone for most the game.
"Shawn had some excellent saves," Heckler said. "For most keepers anywhere, there would have been a goal. He made some fantastic saves. He kept us in the game and so did the spirit of the rest of the team. He has a good defense, too."
Draper, who was named first-team all-league and third-team all-district in Division I last season after making 110 saves, again has led the way for the Cougars this season. He had 49 saves through eight games, as the Cougars were 3-2-3 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on Sept. 15.
"I couldn't do this without my team," Draper said. "The defense played exceptional. I'm playing well, but I couldn't do it without my defense."
Although Westland had scored just two goals in its previous four games, it had three ties during that span, including a scoreless tie against Grove City on Sept. 6 and a 1-all tie against Groveport on Sept. 1.
Through eight games, senior midfielder Eric Quiroz had a team-high five goals.
"The offense doesn't concern me because these are very strong programs," Heckler said.
Against Davidson, Westland's best two scoring chances came when junior midfielder Eduardo Santiago headed a pass by junior midfielder Bachir Bah over the net midway through the first half and when senior midfielder Jack Fischer's header off a direct kick was stopped by Davidson goalie Philip Ferguson in the final two minutes. Ferguson had five saves.
The Cougars face another stern test when they play host to Olentangy Liberty in an OCC-Central game on Tuesday, Sept. 18.
Liberty, which moved from the OCC-Cardinal as part of OCC realignment, reached the Division I state final last season before losing to Cleveland St. Ignatius 4-2. The Patriots were 7-0 before playing DeSales on Sept. 13 and are ranked first in the ThisWeek Super 7 poll and were second behind St. Ignatius in last week's state poll.
Football team prepares to take on Cardinals
The football team travels to Thomas Worthington on Friday, Sept. 21, for an OCC-Central contest.
The Cougars were 1-2 and had lost two in a row before playing Marysville in their league opener Sept. 14. Thomas was 0-3 before playing Upper Arlington in its league opener Sept. 14.
Last season, Westland lost to Thomas 55-0.
Senior quarterback Jalen Brown rushed for 135 yards on 26 carries in a 42-0 loss at Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 7. Through three games, he had 637 yards rushing on 80 carries and had completed 22 of 44 passes for 337 yards and four touchdowns.
According to coach Steve White, junior Myles Fowler was expected to make his season debut against Marysville. Fowler, who emerged as the Cougars' starting quarterback late last season, broke the ring finger on his left hand during a preseason scrimmage and missed the first three games.
Given Brown's play under center, Fowler will play wide receiver, running back and defensive back, White said.
"Myles is one of our team leaders and to have a team leader on the field performing is really uplifting for the other guys," White said.
Thomas had scored only nine points through three games. The Cardinals are led by junior quarterback Danny Gordon, who had completed 32 of 65 passes for 313 yards and two interceptions through three games, and junior running back Tony Harvard, who had rushed for 217 yards and a touchdown on 57 carries through three games.
"We definitely should be able to compete with them," White said of the Cardinals. "They hit us on big plays last year and we have do a good job of not allowing the big plays."