When Dan Ensign took over as coach of the Whitehall-Yearling High School boys soccer program before this season, a primary objective was to improve the players' skills.
Ensign believes he worked toward that goal throughout the season as the Rams went 4-11-1 overall and 1-4-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division.
Whitehall lost to host Big Walnut 5-1 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 16.
"The boys needed a lot of work with general ball skills and first touch," Ensign said. "They also needed work with where to move and not to just simply look forward with our runs and balls played. Gradually the team started playing the way we wanted them to offensively.
"The ball movement and overall soccer IQ greatly increased by the end of the season. It showed that they truly were getting better because our schedule was very difficult near the end. I feel if I had more years to gradually develop their skills our record would have been totally different."
Senior Mohamed Toure was the team's leading scorer with eight goals and was honorable mention all-league.
Senior midfielder Samson Edessa, senior forward Jose Vargas and junior forward/midfielder Nahom Hailu all scored four goals.
Other seniors included Abiel Kiflu, Kidus Tadessa and Julio Tejada.
"Toure was a great offensive threat," Ensign said. "Vargas was a key forward when he wasn't out with a knee injury. Edessa developed to become a quality target near the end of the season. Kiflu was great at controlling the pace of the game in the center midfield and increased the condition level of the team. Tejada was a solid defender in the back and was a motivational team leader and captain. Kidus ended up contributing more in the central midfield near the end of the season."
Sophomore John Lunsford emerged as the starting goalkeeper and improved throughout the season, according to Ensign. He made 27 saves in a 3-0 loss to Columbus Academy on Sept. 27.
Team award recipients were Toure and Hailu (most valuable), Tejada (coaches), junior Ethan Miller (sportsmanship), Lunsford and juniors Aaron Miller and Kelvin Lemus (most improved) and Kiflu (scholar athlete).
Whitehall finished fifth in the league behind Academy (5-0-1), Bexley (4-0-2), Granville (4-1-1) and Heath (3-3) and ahead of Licking Valley (1-5) and Lakewood (0-5-1).
Gilmer leads volleyball team
Senior middle hitter Melanie Gilmer led the girls volleyball team with 121 kills and was honorable mention all-league.
The Rams finished 6-17 overall, losing to host Amanda-Clearcreek 25-15, 25-5, 25-16 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 17.
Whitehall was seventh (3-11) in the MSL-Ohio behind Newark Catholic (13-1), Licking Valley (11-3), Heath (10-4), Lakewood (9-5), Granville (6-8) and Bexley (4-10) and ahead of Columbus Academy (0-14).
Whitehall defeated Academy 28-30, 25-19, 25-20, 25-13 on Aug. 28 and 25-11, 25-8 on Oct. 6, and Bexley 25-22, 26-24, 25-22 on Sept. 18.
"The team this year fought hard and never gave up," coach Danielle Smith said. "We were more competitive than teams were expecting because of our defense and being extremely scrappy. The girls got compliments after almost every game about their hustle and fight to not give up."
Senior outside hitter Delina Farnlacher had 132 digs and 23 aces and senior outside hitter Danielle Farnlacher had 88 kills and 19 aces. Danielle and Delina are twins.
Junior libero Andrea Seberig had 145 digs, junior setter Tierra Copley had 130 assists, junior setter/outside hitter Kayla Williams had 98 assists and 44 digs, senior middle hitter Marissa Ware had 84 blocks and senior middle hitter Amber Lucas had 66 blocks and 57 kills.
Whitehall played its home matches at Rosemore Middle School because of the renovation project at the high school.