Lindsay Plymale chuckled as she acknowledged the three stitches on her chin, stitches that would not have been there if not for a position change.
The DeSales High School girls soccer team's senior sweeper went up for a ball during a Sept. 20 game against Watterson and collided with an Eagles player, opening a gash in the center of her chin. It was an unfamiliar situation for Plymale, who is a natural forward but moved back to the defense, where she started as a sophomore, because of a season-ending injury to starter Reese Elliott.
"It didn't hurt that bad so I could play through it, but with blood on my jersey. It was a little scary," Plymale said.
It was another occurrence of something not going according to plan in a season that, unfortunately for the Stallions, often has followed that same pattern. But Plymale and classmate Madison Rennie, a University of Kentucky commit, have been constants for DeSales, which is 3-9-1 overall after losing to Olentangy Orange 5-1 on Sept. 29 and is 2-1 in the CCL entering a Thursday, Oct. 4, game at Hartley.
Plymale, a third-year starter, and Rennie, a fourth-year starter, shared the team lead in goals with five through 12 games.
Elliott, a junior, tore her left ACL and meniscus during a 4-3 loss to Upper Arlington on Sept. 11.
"The fun part has been having these kids for three or four years. You get to know what they are made of," coach Sarah Gantz said. "Lindsay is really fast, which is why we put her up top, and when we lost Reese, we moved her back because we needed somebody really fast in the back. She is tough and she makes good decisions. I would just love to have multiples of her.
"Madi has stepped up the same way. We have had some adversity and she's been a senior rock helping everybody improve. She is just a leader. It's a role she has embraced. How we respond to adversity, that's the kind of stuff regardless of record that I am really proud of. They come out and work harder. They push and push and push and we can owe a lot of that to our leadership."
Elliott's injury means Rennie is the Stallions' only constant forward in the middle of the field.
Domenica Cua is the team's designated stopper. Plymale is flanked in the defense by Hannah Flora and Kylie Hast.
"She has contributed so much," Rennie said of Plymale. "She has stepped up as both a leader and a teammate. She is so committed to this team and helping us in every way. She has obviously put goals in the back of the net for us, which is awesome, but she has stopped just as many in the back. We couldn't ask for more. She's been awesome."
The Stallions broke back above .500 in the league with a 4-2 win at Columbus School for Girls on Sept. 27.
Thirteen of DeSales' 16 regular-season games are against teams in Division I, the classification in which the Stallions are competing for the fourth consecutive year. The district tournament draw is Sunday, Oct. 7.
"Losing Reese was a huge blow for us, but just staying tough and growing as a team and making sure we are walking off together and with our heads held high has been our focus," Rennie said. "We've definitely grown together that way. We are so close. If we keep improving, we will be right where we want to be."
Girls volleyball team shares league title
The girls volleyball team split its final two CCL matches of the season, leading to at least a two-way split of the league championship.
DeSales defeated visiting Hartley 25-17, 25-14, 19-25, 11-25, 15-9 on Sept. 24 to secure at least a tie for the title but lost to Watterson 25-21, 21-25, 26-24, 19-25, 15-10 on Sept. 27 to finish 6-2 in the league. Hartley also finished 6-2, and Watterson was 5-2 in the CCL before playing CSG on Oct. 2.
Emma Brown had 15 kills and Lexi Hall had 12 against Watterson. Bella D'Amico added 25 assists, 23 digs and three kills and Lainey McGonigle had 29 digs.
DeSales is 12-7 overall after going 2-1 in the Black and Gold Invitational on Sept. 29 at Perrysburg. The Stallions defeated Kettering Alter 25-9, 25-18 and Strongsville 23-25, 25-10, 25-8 and lost to Sparta Highland 25-20, 25-22.
Tennis team set for sectional
Girls tennis coach Tom Snyder hopes this is the year his team breaks its district tournament drought, and the bracket might give at least one player the chance to do just that.
Megan Husslein is seeded third in singles for the Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at Pickerington Central. The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to district Oct. 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg.
Husslein was 16-3 entering the week. According to Snyder, a 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Granville's Eleanor Male on Aug. 21 helped boost Husslein's resume. Male is the fourth seed in singles at the Central sectional.
"We're really excited for Megan. She's had a great year and (being seeded) is just the way it shook out," Snyder said. "Olentangy Orange sent their second, third, fourth and fifth girls to doubles and Pickerington Central has two of their top girls in doubles, so there was an opening there. Her game is consistent. She's able to get to so many balls and she can be really frustrating to her opponents."
DeSales has not had a district qualifier since My Linh Li and Sarah Schockling in singles in 2012. Li finished as Division II state runner-up.
The Stallions moved up to Division I the next season.
Rounding out DeSales' sectional lineup are singles players Izzy Arbona and Cate Leithauser and the doubles teams of Molly Ballard and Elaina Murray and Erin Miller and Aubrey Wilcox.
"We really didn't change anything (from the regular season)," Snyder said. "We have three singles players who are all more comfortable playing singles than doubles, and our doubles teams fit together well, too."
DeSales was 11-3 overall and 2-1 in the CCL before Oct. 1, when Snyder planned to send his top seven players to a match at CSG to finish the league schedule and the rest of the team to a previously scheduled non-league match at Thomas Worthington. The match against the Unicorns was postponed from Sept. 25 because of bad weather.
Zevchik earns district berth in boys golf
While excited about his first Division II district tournament appearance, Kyle Zevchik also wished his teammates on the boys golf team competed with him Oct. 3 at Denison Golf Club.
Zevchik shot a 78 in a sectional Sept. 25 at Oakhaven to earn an individual district berth. The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced.
DeSales shot a 353 to finish fifth behind champion Columbus Academy (314) as 11 teams scored. Hartley (322) and Marion Pleasant (327) earned the other district berths.
Zevchik, a junior, tied Columbus Academy's Griffin Mitchell for sixth place overall out of 50 individuals.
"Our goal was to get to district as a team ... (but) I'm very happy with the way I played," Zevchik said. "My irons worked pretty well. It's very disappointing not getting the team to district. I love my team dearly and I wish they could have made it, but it just ended up (that the other teams) got us."
Also scoring for the Stallions were Michael Cummins (82), Andrew Connor (95) and Ryan Ratchford (98). Joe Valentine shot a 103.
"I'm very happy for Kyle," coach Tony Pinson said. "He's worked very hard and deserves it. We set a goal for him this specific tournament. He beat his number and did a great job."
At district, the winning team and top individual not on the winning team advanced to state Oct. 12 and 13 at Ohio State's Scarlet Course. DeSales was seeking its first representation at state since 2013, when it finished third as a team.
Postseason underway for girls golfers
The girls golf team competed in a Division I sectional Oct. 2 at Mentel Memorial, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Cooks Creek.
At district, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to the state tournament Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State's Gray Course.
DeSales also will try to lock up the inaugural CCL championship during the second and final round of the league tournament Saturday, Oct. 6, at their home course of NorthStar.
The Stallions shot a 366 to win the first round Aug. 15 at NorthStar, ahead of CSG and Watterson (both 382), Hartley (390) and Ready (468).
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams:
Oct. 4 -- At Lexington
*Oct. 4 -- At Hartley
Oct. 8 -- Home vs. Bexley
Oct. 6 -- At Hilliard Darby with Jonathan Alder and Olentangy Liberty