As far as DeSales High School boys soccer player Josh Conroy is concerned, the Stallions not allowing a goal in either the Division II district or regional tournaments is a byproduct of the defense trying to hold up its end of the bargain.
“That is all we can do,” said Conroy, a junior defender. “The offense is obviously doing their job with the amount of goals that we are scoring right now, and we have to hold up our end of the bargain. …
“We are doing a good job marking our opponents, we communicate really well and just back each other up.”
DeSales played Kettering Alter in a state semifinal Nov. 8, coming off a 5-0 win over Albany Alexander in a regional final Nov. 4 at Bloom-Carroll. Cristian Gomez scored four goals and Nick Fuchs added one as the Stallions improved to 20-0-1 in winning their fourth consecutive regional championship and state-record 17th overall.
DeSales outscored its first five postseason opponents 32-0 and won each of those games by at least five goals. In the district tournament, the Stallions defeated Linden-McKinley 8-0 in the second round Oct. 21, Marion Pleasant 6-0 in a semifinal Oct. 25 and Jonathan Alder 7-0 in a final Oct. 28 before a 6-0 win over Warsaw River View in a regional semifinal Nov. 1 at Lakewood.
“The key has just been us playing our game and not doing anything dumb,” senior defender Zack Garrett said. “If we do that, we can win games 4-0 and 5-0. As long as we start out strong, we will be fine. What makes other teams so dangerous is they will be respecting us, and we know we have to respect them.”
DeSales outshot its first five postseason opponents 86-6, and held Linden and River View without shots on goal.
Conroy, Garrett, Fermin Lopez, Riley Paxton and Bryan Roach were the usual defensive starters during the regular season. Ben Whalen has seen increased time during the postseason.
Coach Domenic Romanelli said his team continued to show the same focus it displayed during the regular season.
“Everybody has their vision on the big prize (a state championship), but we have to understand that to get to that big prize, everybody needs to settle down and take things one at a time. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Romanelli said. “Hopefully we can get back to where we were last year. They haven’t forgotten last year (an overtime loss to Alter in a state semifinal), but we are just playing good, hard soccer and getting a lot of kids (playing) time.”
Vigo Bertolo, Mike Cockerell, Carson Fox, Hector Gomez, Cesar Ramirez and Whalen each scored against River View.
The DeSales-Alter winner will play Aurora or Bay Village Bay in the state final Saturday, Nov. 11, at Mapfre Stadium. The Stallions are seeking their third state championship in four years and seventh overall.
DeSales defeated Bay 4-2 on Aug. 26, as well in the 2009, 2014 and 2015 state finals.
Boys runner Towler
places 97th at state
Ben Towler of the boys cross country team admitted any strategy he brought into the Division II state meet Nov. 4 at National Trail Raceway was moot almost as soon as the race began.
“It was 50/50 nerves and excitement. I was excited at the start and I probably went out a little too fast,” Towler said. “It was great being here as a sophomore and getting some experience under my belt.”
Towler, who was making his first state appearance, finished 97th (17 minutes, 19.1 seconds) of 180 runners. He was DeSales’ first state qualifier since 2011, when Pete Ryan finished 16th as a senior, and its only individual to advance beyond district.
“It is weird coming out as an individual without my team, and especially (at state when) I couldn’t warm up with my team,” Towler said. “I felt the same way as I would with any other race at the start; that’s my goal. I just didn’t execute as well as I wanted.”
Towler’s state appearance ended a season that not only saw the girls team win its first CCL title since 2009 but also included several underclassmen helping determine the boys and girls teams’ fortunes.
Senior Cammy Bury of the girls team won the individual championship (20:32.33) in the league meet Oct. 14 at Otterbein University, as DeSales scored 37 points and to finish first ahead of Hartley (45), Watterson (52), Columbus School for Girls (90) and Ready (144).
The boys finished third (78) in the CCL meet, behind St. Charles (24) and Watterson (54) and ahead of Hartley (89) and Ready (136).
In the Division II, district 2 meet Oct. 21 at Watkins Memorial, Towler placed fifth (16:35.25) as DeSales finished fifth (146) behind champion Heath (50) as 12 teams scored to fall one spot shy of advancing to regional.
At regional Oct. 28 at Pickerington North, Towler placed 24th (16:57.97) as the top 28 runners advanced to state.
The girls finished ninth (225) in the Division I, district 2 meet behind champion Granville (43) as 16 teams scored. The top six teams and top 24 individuals qualified for regional.
Bury placed 12th (19:25.16) at district and went on to finish 54th (20:16.49) at regional.
Every boys runner that competed in the top seven this year is expected back, with the exception of senior Art Williams. That group also includes juniors Ian McCandlish, Jonathan Pusateri, Isaac Steiger, Matt Stone and Angelo Ricci and sophomore John Shoemaker.
The girls team is losing three seniors in Bury, Abi DeBrosse and Sarah Zaino. Expected returnees who were in the top seven at some point include juniors Sarah Pancake and Stephanie Suh, sophomores Erika Thomas and Abby Walker and freshmen Bre Callahan, Kendall Gonya, Hannah Pekarcik and Evie Sarle.
falls short of state
The girls volleyball team acknowledged that it was an underdog entering a Division I regional final against Dublin Coffman on Nov. 4 at Worthington Kilbourne, and the Shamrocks showed why as they dominated throughout a 25-13, 25-18, 25-21 win.
DeSales, which was playing Coffman in a regional final for the fourth time in five seasons, finished 20-4 overall.
“We knew what to expect as far as (the Shamrocks’) offense, but their defense was playing at a very, very high level,” coach Brenden Pence said. “Game three is what I was hoping for, and we definitely did some good things in that third (game), but their defense just got the better of us.
“We talked about it in the locker room, that we set a bunch of goals this season (including being) CCL champs, and everybody wanted a district title and then wanted to get to regional and see where we’d fall from there.”
DeSales advanced with a 25-16, 25-18, 25-23 win over Gahanna in a regional semifinal Nov. 2 at Kilbourne.
The Stallions went 8-0 in the CCL to win their fifth league championship in six years, finishing ahead of Hartley (5-3), Watterson (5-3), CSG (2-6) and Ready (0-8).
Seeded third in the 50-team district tournament, DeSales swept its first four postseason matches. The Stallions defeated 35th-seeded Whetstone 25-2, 25-6, 25-12 in the second round Oct. 19, beat 23rd-seeded Westerville Central 25-16, 25-16, 25-10 in a district semifinal Oct. 25 and topped eighth-seeded Olentangy 25-12, 25-16, 25-16 in a district final Oct. 28.
Senior setter Diana Brown, a University of Illinois commit, was named first-team all-league, district co-Player of the Year and a second-team All-American by the American Volleyball Coaches Association.
Senior libero Jessie Julian was first-team all-league and second-team all-district. Senior outside hitter Shayna Sarisky and sophomore setter Bella D’Amico were second-team all-league, and Sarisky was honorable mention all-district.
Sophomore outside hitter Emma Brown led DeSales in kills through 23 matches with 205, ahead of Sarisky (199), Diana Brown (125), senior outside hitter Tiara Teague (125) and junior outside hitter Lexi Hall (123).
Julian had 385 digs, and junior defensive specialist Lainey McGonigle added 246.