The St. Charles Preparatory School soccer team has a tough act to follow, but coach Chris Vonau said the Cardinals possess the talent and momentum to make such a postseason run.
Entering their sixth consecutive Division I district semifinal, the fourth-seeded Cardinals were looking to match the exploits of last year's team with championships at both the district and regional levels before losing to Cleveland St. Ignatius 2-1 in the state title game.
"The success we had last year can be attributed to a number of things and one of them was the pure raw talent we had," said Vonau, whose team was 13-2-2 before playing 10th-seeded Hilliard Darby in a district semifinal Oct. 25 at home. "This year, the talent is there and the momentum going in (to the postseason) has been great. The past few games we have hit the iron hot and that has been good. There have been times when we had some plateaus whether mentally or what. As we lead up to the (district semifinal), we like where we are right now."
If the Cardinals won the district semifinal, they'll play seventh-seeded Marysville or 11th-seeded Westerville Central in a district final Saturday, Oct. 28, at a neutral site to be determined.
"We're looking really good right now," junior midfielder Owen Sullivan said. "Our back line is connecting really well with our midfield. We have to keep our back line orchestrated, keep it organized and find ways to score."
Last season, St. Charles was the top seed and won its first district title since 1994, defeating 11th-seeded Darby 3-0 in the championship game at Hartley.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal at a date and site to be determined.
"Toward the end of the season we have hit it pretty hot," Vonau said. "We are a very finesse kind of team and not a very direct team.
"Day in and day out, this team has the right focus and the players are moving toward the same goals. That is play simple soccer, keep the ball on the ground and keep it moving."
The Cardinals had a first-round bye before defeating 26th-seeded Groveport 7-0 on Oct. 21 in the second round as Andrew Donley scored three goals.
Football team to close season against Hartley
The football team closes the season Friday, Oct. 27, at Hartley.
The Hawks lead the CCL at 2-0, ahead of DeSales (1-1), Watterson (1-1) and St. Charles (0-2).
Hartley improved to 8-1 overall by defeating North Canton Hoover 24-19 on Oct. 20. Elijah Carter had 120 yards rushing on 21 carries with a 22-yard touchdown. Anthony Carfagna was 5-for-10 passing for 134 yards with one interception, and Alexander Blackmon had a pair of 2-yard touchdown runs.
The Cardinals dropped to 1-8 overall with a 38-10 loss to Cincinnati La Salle on Oct. 20. Peter Griffith rushed for a 12-yard touchdown, and Clayton Anderson kicked a 42-yard field goal.
The Lancers had 468 total yards, including 282 rushing. St. Charles totaled 131 yards with 115 rushing.
Cross country team qualifies for regional
The cross country team finished fifth (117 points) in the Division I, district 1 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial to advance to regional Saturday, Oct. 28, at Pickerington North.
The Cardinals earned the final regional-qualifying spot behind Hilliard Davidson (45), Lancaster (78), Dublin Coffman (88) and Upper Arlington (111).
Ryan O'Brien led St. Charles by finishing 15th (16 minutes, 38.02 seconds). Also competing were Mitch Whittaker (23rd, 16:55.0), Iain Karas (24th, 16:58.91), Liam O'Reilly (27th, 17:00.93), Kenton Colvin (28th, 17:02.03), Ethan Encarnacion (31st, 17:08.81) and Owen Karas (61st, 18:00.25).
At regional, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to state Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway.
Water polo team seeded second at state
The water polo team is 25-7-2 heading into the state tournament Friday, Oct. 27, and Saturday, Oct. 28, at Cincinnati Princeton and Mason.
The Cardinals are seeded second behind Thomas Worthington and have a first-round bye. They open against eighth-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore or ninth-seeded Milford on Oct. 27 at Mason.
St. Charles also is ranked second in the state behind Thomas.
Last fall, the Cardinals were the top seed and lost to seventh-seeded Cincinnati St. Xavier 13-11 in the state championship game. They finished third in 2015 and won state titles in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.