Tyler Albers was a student-athlete in the truest sense of the term last year, but the senior attacker for the DeSales High School boys lacrosse team says his investment in academics – which has led to his admission to Miami University to study computer science – somewhat weakened his attachment to the game and his teammates.

So one night this winter after a hockey practice, Albers called coach Matt Triplet and made a promise regarding his production and investment.

“I wanted to feel more a part of (the team) than I did last year,” Albers said. “I had a really good experience with hockey; I really felt like part of the team and I didn’t feel I had that last year with lacrosse on a personal level. If I was going to enjoy lacrosse my senior year, I needed to get that experience. I told (Triplet) that’s what I wanted and I got it done.”

Albers has lived up to that so far, recording 19 goals and eight assists to help DeSales sustain a lengthy winning streak after a season-opening 15-4 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier on March 17. The Stallions were 13-1 overall before playing New Albany on May 8.

A third-year starter and fourth-year varsity player, Albers generally is depended on to position himself behind the goal, dodge and finish in the crease.

“He’s had that inside him the whole time, but I don’t think it came out until this year,” defender Jack DeSantis said. “He is stepping up and being that dodger and finisher. He embraces his role and plays it to the best of his ability.”

Albers was a two-year starter and three-year letterwinner in hockey, but says lacrosse is his first love. He joined the hockey team as a sophomore largely because the team was suffering from low turnout and was in need of players.

“We didn’t plan for Tyler to have the season that he’s having. He put up decent numbers last season, but he just wasn’t ‘all in’ like he is now,” Triplet said.

“He is doing everything we’re asking him. He’s been an absolutely wonderful surprise physically, mentally, attitude-wise and emotionally. He is running hard and working hard every single play and every single practice.”

DeSantis is helping lead a defense that recently added transfers Jack Ayers and Noah Swenson from St. Charles and Gahanna, respectively. They had to sit out the first half of the regular season because of Ohio High School Athletic Association rules.

With Connor Thune at goalkeeper, the Stallions were giving up an average of 4.9 goals during their 13-game winning streak. According to Triplet, Thune was 20-1 as a starter the last two seasons before May 8.

“(Ayers and Swenson) bring a physical presence. Swenson isn’t the biggest kid, but he’s a beast. He’s just aggressive. Same with Jack,” DeSantis said. “I’m really the smallest defenseman (at 6-foot-2, 220 pounds). Just having everyone realize that the goal is to win every game and take it a game at a time, everybody has that in mind whereas maybe we haven’t the past couple of years. That’s why we’re doing so well.”

Triplet said chemistry and a hunger to return to the Division II state tournament for the first time since 2013 have driven the Stallions all season.

DeSales, which finishes the regular season Thursday, May 10, at home against Olentangy Orange, was voted the top seed in the 17-team Division II, Region 7 tournament. The Stallions took a first-round bye and will play host to 14th-seeded Johnstown or 16th-seeded Lima Senior in a second-round game Monday, May 14.

The winner advances to a quarterfinal May 17.

“They’re a close-knit group of guys all focused on one goal,” Triplet said.

“They’ve learned from the lessons of the past and put things behind them. There are no clashes between classes, and all of them have been focused on a common goal since the very beginning. They’ve been talking among themselves about making this their year, and just needing to get it done.”

Baseball team opens tourney at home

With a shared CCL championship secured, baseball coach Tom Neubert hopes his team’s path through the Division II postseason plays out as well as the district tournament draw.

Seeded second in the 23-team tournament, DeSales will play host to 17th-seeded Columbus South or 19th-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek in a second-round game Thursday, May 10.

The Stallions, who are 16-9 overall, effectively got the first pick at the draw after top-seeded Bloom-Carroll passed. If seeds hold, DeSales would participate in the Mason regional for the third consecutive year in hopes of reaching its first state tournament since 2012.

“It was a real shock when (Bloom-Carroll) passed, and I had a plan going in in case we were the top seed, so we just went by that plan,” Neubert said.

“We’re familiar with that region. It’s an easy drive for us. We have a bunch of returners who have been there two years in a row now. It’s a place we’re comfortable with and we’re very familiar with the teams down there, too. We may have not had the success we’ve wanted the past two years, but I think it’s more of a safety thing for us than anything.”

The second-round winner will play ninth-seeded London, 10th-seeded Heath or 21st-seeded Marion-Franklin in a district semifinal Tuesday, May 15, at a neutral site to be determined. That winner advances to a district final May 17.

Despite DeSales’ busy schedule, Neubert is hopeful that more outdoor practices will help leading into the tournament. The Stallions’ outdoor practice May 1 was their first since April 2 in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

“There are things we need to work on and shore up,” Neubert said.

“As games have progressed, we’ve lost a little bit on communication and things and the pressure has increased. It’s good to have a chance to revisit those things.”

DeSales went 6-2 in the CCL, but lost its last two league games and shared the championship with Hartley. The Hawks, who beat the Stallions 14-10 on April 27, edged Watterson 6-5 in five innings to May 2 to force the first-place tie.

Track teams prep for postseason

After the CCL meet wraps up Thursday, May 10, at Hartley, the boys and girls track and field teams will prepare for their respective district meets.

The girls team will go to Hilliard Darby for the Division I, district 1 meet. Preliminaries for the running events are Tuesday, May 15, followed by field events May 17 and running finals May 19.

The boys are in Division II, district 2 at Westerville South. Field events will take place May 15, running preliminaries will be May 16 and running finals will be May 19.

The top four finishers in each event at both meets advance to regional. The Division I regional will be May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North, while the Division II regional is May 24 and 26 at Lexington.

Boys tennis team heads to sectional

Led by the doubles team of Dylan Benedict and Liam Verfurth, the boys tennis team will participate in a Division II sectional Thursday, May 10, and Saturday, May 12, at Columbus Academy.

Benedict and Verfurth are seeded fourth.

DeSales’ other doubles team at sectional will be Kevin Heil and Will McAfee-Weatherspoon. Singles players will be Michael James, Sam Secrest and Nate Stevens.

The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament May 17 at Academy and May 19 at Upper Arlington.

The Stallions were 9-5 overall before playing Central Crossing on May 8 and finished 2-2 in the CCL with a 3-2 win over Hartley on May 3.

Last week, DeSales defeated Beechcroft 3-2 on April 30 and Ready 5-0 the next day.

Softball team wins tourney opener

Morgan Orzechowski’s two RBI powered the softball team to a 6-0 win at 26th-seeded Olentangy Orange in the first round of the Division I district tournament May 7.

The 31st-seeded Stallions were 7-12 before visiting fourth-seeded Groveport for a second-round game May 9.

The winner will take on sixth-seeded Gahanna or 34th-seeded Canal Winchester in a district semifinal Monday, May 14, at a neutral site to be determined.

The district final is May 18 or 19 at Pickerington Central.

DeSales finished CCL play with two consecutive wins after an 0-4 start, defeating Watterson 3-1 on April 30 and Hartley 6-1 on May 2 to finish 2-4 in the league.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave

Schedules

Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales girls lacrosse and boys volleyball teams:

GIRLS LACROSSE

*May 10 -- At Granville

May 16 -- Home vs 16th-seeded Centennial in first round of Division II, Region 7 tournament. Winner plays eighth-seeded Dayton Oakwood or ninth-seeded Dayton Chaminade Julienne in second round May 19 at home of higher seed. The Stallions are seeded first.

BOYS VOLLEYBALL

May 10 -- Home vs. Licking Heights

May 15 -- Home vs. Whetstone

*League contest