Having lost a combined 106 goals to graduation between All-American Nick Musci and Austin Popovich, not to mention adding two new offensive coaches, DeSales High School boys lacrosse coach Matt Triplet knew his attack would undergo some reinvention entering this season.

Video •Watch an interview with DeSales boys lacrosse player Carter Hilleary.

Still, Triplet and those new assistants, former Ohio State players Ryan Hunter and Matt Lee, stuck to a few basic tenets.

They want the Stallions to get a shot on goal at least once every 60 seconds, to distribute the ball as often as possible and to be quick and relentless in their overall approach.

DeSales averaged 14 goals through the first five games, suggesting the Stallions had little to no trouble buying in. They were 5-0 before playing St. Charles on April 19.

"We stick to what we're taught -- (be) relentless and fast," midfielder Carter Hilleary said. "Everybody is getting involved. We are sharing the ball. It's less 'I' and more 'team.' It was rough at the beginning of the year, but as we kept going, the more we played, the better the chemistry has been. Just grinding stick skills, passing and catching (and) finishing have all been better. We have stepped up on that stuff a ton in practice."

Midfielder Tommy Clayton had 15 goals through five games to lead a balanced attack. Attacker Chris Stoll had 12 goals, followed by midfielder Mason Rickens (10) and Hilleary (9).

Hilleary more than doubled his previous total in an emotional 20-10 win over defending Division II state champion Worthington Kilbourne on April 11. Not only did DeSales avenge a 14-8 home loss to Kilbourne in a regional final last year, but it was the Stallions' first win against the Wolves.

"There's a lot to be said for our camaraderie," said defender Jack DeSantis, who scored from about 50 yards early in the third quarter against Kilbourne as what he intended as a pass instead rolled into an open net. "It has translated into how we work the ball better and go through our slides more easily because we trust each other and it plays out really well."

Clayton admitted the transition hasn't always been easy.

DeSales opened with two close wins, 11-9 over Hilliard Davidson on March 29 and 9-8 over Northbrook (Illinois) Glenbrook North on April 1, but then eased past Pickerington North (17-9 on April 3) and Hilliard Bradley (13-3 on April 7) before defeating Kilbourne.

"We've been iffy in at least a couple of quarters each game," Clayton said. "We'll play well in the first and not as well in the second (for example). We buckled down (against Kilbourne). There was a bunch of hype. We played very well.

"The real good thing so far is, we've been able to keep defenses guessing."

Triplet added that the Stallions seemed to have meshed well because of a clean-slate approach, given that several younger players are seeing more playing time for the first time and Hunter and Lee both are in their first season with the team.

"The new staff helps, but the new staff (and) the no-star power approach are a combination," Triplet said. "We told the guys they are starting from scratch with a clean slate. See what you can do. That's all we've done."

Girls lacrosse team
rolls into break

Entering a midseason break in which his team has one game in two weeks, girls lacrosse coach Joe Finotti couldn't have been more pleased about where the Stallions stood.

Even without star senior attacker Jennie Finotti, the defending Division II state champions were 7-0 overall and 2-0 in both the CCL and Central Independent League before playing Hartley on April 19. DeSales had outscored its opponents 85-39 and had racked up 16 goals in a game three times.

"Everybody has stepped up in their own way to fill any role we've needed help with," coach Finotti said. "We've pretty much just played our game. The offense has worked even harder without Jennie there. Girls have scored in huge spots."

Sophia Finotti and Grace Lensmire shared the team lead in goals through seven games with 22 each, ahead of Abbey Dop (18) and Payton Nebraska (10). Finotti scored the winning goal in an 8-7 overtime victory over Dublin Jerome on April 6.

Jennie Finotti, who injured her right ankle in mid-March, missed the first five games but returned for about 10 minutes in a 16-7 win at Olentangy Orange on April 8 and scored a goal. Coach Finotti held her out of an 11-6 win at Watterson on April 11, citing concerns about the Eagles' field, and hoped she would return against Hartley.

DeSales' home game against CIL foe Wellington on Tuesday, April 25, begins a stretch of five games in 10 days, six in 12 and eight in 17 to end the regular season.

"We're just going to keep working on defense and take pride in that," coach Finotti said. "Emily Kraker has been outstanding in goal, but I think we can always get better defensively, especially in transitioning our defense to our offense and getting down the field for quality scoring chances."

Thick of CCL schedule
awaits baseball team

The baseball team resumed CCL play April 19 against Hartley two games out of the league lead in the loss column, but facing a stretch where it could pull back into contention for its second consecutive CCL championship.

Another
slideshow •CCL baseball rivals Watterson and DeSales faced off April 10, with Watterson winning 13-1.

DeSales earned its first league win of the season April 12, 12-0 over Ready, to improve to 1-2 in the CCL. The Stallions, who were 6-4 overall before playing Jonathan Alder on April 17, previously had lost CCL games to St. Charles (4-1 on April 7) and Watterson (13-1 on April 10).

Watterson was 2-0 in the league before April 17. Hartley was 1-0, ahead of St. Charles (1-1), DeSales and Ready (0-2).

The Stallions' game at St. Charles on Monday, April 24, begins the second round of league play.

DeSales, Hartley and Watterson shared the CCL championship last year as each went 5-3.

Through nine games, Patrick Moriarty had a team-best .500 batting average, ahead of Joey Velazquez (.478) and Luke Barber (.381). Ryan Corkrean, Dylan Payne and Nick Renken each had one home run.

Renken was 2-0 on the mound with eight strikeouts and one walk allowed in 7 2/3 innings. Greg Gilbert was 2-1 with 17 strikeouts and a walk in 18 innings.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave