A pair of Watterson High School girls programs celebrated district championships for the first time in several years Oct. 27.
In soccer, the top-seeded Eagles beat 20th-seeded Westerville North 3-0 in a Division I district final at Olentangy Orange for their first title since 2013 when they finished as a regional runner-up.
The only time that program has made it past the regional level was in 1998 when the Eagles lost in a state semifinal.
The eighth-seeeded volleyball team also captured a Division I district title, upsetting third-seeded Olentangy 18-25, 25-15, 20-25, 25-23, 15-13 at Whitehall.
It marked the program's first district championship since 2011.
Girls soccer team cruises into regional
Ranked sixth in the final state poll, the girls soccer team lived up to those accolades during the district tournament with three shutout victories.
Watterson was 16-1-2 before playing Dublin Jerome in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Westerville Central. The winner plays Pickerington North or Olentangy in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 3, at a neutral site.
The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Tuesday, Nov. 6, at a neutral site. The state final is Nov. 9 at Mapfre Stadium.
"One of our goals as a team from the beginning of the season has been to make it to the district championship (game) and win," senior defender Emma Schossler said. "It has been too long since Watterson has won a district title. We have an exceptional team culture. We all have expressed that we are 'all in' and willing to make sacrifices in order to get results. We have a large group of seniors that have played a role in the leadership that we have. Being such an experienced team has helped us to be successful and confident this season."
Watterson beat 14th-seeded Marysville 3-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at home as Grace Jenkins, Isabella Ginocchi and Schossler scored.
Against Westerville North, Schossler scored two goals and Gabriella Rotolo scored one.
During the regular season, Watterson did not play Jerome but beat Pickerington North 2-1 on Sept. 15 and Olentangy 2-1 on Aug. 25.
"A major key for our team this entire season is that we're extremely disciplined while defending," Schossler said. "We have a strong back line and a very talented goalkeeper (Annie McGraw) that keeps us organized defensively. On the other end of the field, we have several players that we can count on to score when we need them to and this has helped us to become confident in the attacking third of the field."
Volleyball team rallies for title
The girls volleyball team is 19-7 entering its regional semifinal against Olentangy Orange on Thursday, Nov. 1, at Worthington Kilbourne.
The winner plays Dublin Coffman or Olentangy Liberty in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 3, at Kilbourne. The regional champion faces Cincinnati Mercy McAuley, Cincinnati Mount Notre Dame, Cincinnati St. Ursula Academy or Cincinnati Ursuline in a state semifinal Nov. 9 at Wright State.
The state final is Nov. 10 at Wright State.
"I'm so happy," senior setter and outside hitter Kate Griffin said. "We've worked so hard for this and have been working for a long time for this, and it's our first district championship since (2011). We just had a lot of grit and determination (in the district final). We had a lot of confidence going in. That first set, I was a little worried at first, but after that, we really turned it on."
After beating sixth-seeded Pickerington Central 25-18, 25-18, 25-16 in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at Whitehall, the Eagles trailed two sets to one against Olentangy before rallying.
Watterson trailed 13-10 in the fifth game but scored the final five points.
"We just had a willingness not to lose," coach Stephanie Grieshop said. "They just fought until the bitter end knowing what would happen and just played with no feat. We just did the best we could to defend (Olentangy's libero) and it wasn't pretty, but it was a pretty competitive spirit.
"We're pretty excited. We all love each other, so we just want more time with each other."
Field hockey team falls to Vikings
The fourth-seeded field hockey team lost to top-seeded Columbus Academy 1-0 in a district final Oct. 27 at Olentangy Liberty to finish 14-4-1.
It marks the fourth consecutive district runner-up finish for the Eagles.
"I'm really proud of the girls," said coach Janet Baird, whose team lost to Academy by the same score on Oct. 2 in a game that ended early in the second half because of bad weather.
"They've really grown a lot and have worked extremely hard. I'm very hard on them and happy (we were) able to have this opportunity to play (for a district title). ... Academy is definitely the team to beat in the state this year."
In a 4-2 victory over sixth-seeded Orange in a district semifinal Oct. 23, sophomore attacker Alexandra Piccolo scored two goals, senior attacker Alexandra Igoe and freshman attacker Grace Cantwell both scored one and senior goalkeeper Maria Pardi made seven saves.
Other key seniors included Julianna DiSabato (defender), Lindsay Hull (attacker) and Bella Pardi (defender).
Others eligible to return include junior Olivia Wallace (defender), sophomores Lauren Neutzling (midfielder) and Anne Marie Ruess (attacker) and freshmen Camille Gregory (midfielder), Molly Griffith (midfielder) and Claire Sugar (midfielder).
Runners close season at regional
After reaching the state meet for the first time since 1981 last season, the boys cross country team had its season end with a 13th-place finish (372 points) in the 22-team Division II regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, behind champion Heath (64).
"We lost our top six men to graduation, so just getting back (to regional) was an accomplishment," coach Matt McGowan said. "Our No. 7 guy (sophomore Will Garey) last year was our No. 1 (at this year's regional) and he ran 62 seconds faster, and that's all you can ask. The only senior we had, Dylan Tucker, was our No. 12 man (last year). (Junior) Jimmy Racher was our 16th man (last year) and he was our seventh man (this year).
"They ran their best times at the district meet. The key in cross country is running your best time at the end of the season. We've got a young team and they've got a lot to look forward to."
Garey finished 61st of 181 runners at regional in 17 minutes, 48.5 seconds, followed by Tucker (68th, 17:55.2), freshmen Cris Kubatko (74th, 17:57.4), Max Latshaw (134th, 18:47.6), David Druhan (137th, 18:49.2) and Jake Vanausdle (164th, 19:45.4) and Racher (169th, 20:12.5).
In the girls Division I regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North, sophomore Danielle Grim finished 82nd (21:29.5) of 133 runners while competing as an individual.
Other key runners for the girls were senior Emily Latshaw, juniors Bridget Dougherty and Sarah Heink, sophomores Brooklyn Brush and Emily Vais and freshman Riley Connors.
"Emily (Latshaw) was our No. 1 all year, but Danielle Grim, what a great kid," McGowan said. "Emily (Latshaw) was our only senior on the girls team, so they've got a young team, too. I always tell them to try to run faster than they did on this course before. (Grim) doesn't run track, she plays club basketball in the spring, but she's a great kid and she listens."
Football team surprises Stallions
With DeSales needing a win to keep its Division III, Region 11 playoff hopes alive, the football team beat the Stallions 21-14 on Oct. 26 to end a five-game losing streak in the series.
Watterson won its final three games, including beating St. Charles 37-6 on Oct. 12, to finish 5-5 overall and 2-1 in the CCL.
"As a player and a coach, if you're at Watterson or DeSales, there's not a bigger game," coach Brian Kennedy said. "To win on our field on senior night, it's special. Any time we beat DeSales, win a CCL game, it's good."
Against the Stallions, quarterback Grant Horvath passed for 70 yards and rushed 14 times for 65 yards and two touchdowns, including what turned out to be a game-winning 1-yard run with 6:28 remaining. Thomas Bair rushed 20 times for 89 yards and one score.
Defensively, Drew Davis had 10.5 tackles and Horvath had 9.5 as the Eagles held DeSales to 204 yards of offense.
The Stallions finished 5-5 overall and 1-2 in the CCL.
"We have tremendous kids," Kennedy said. "It starts with the seniors. Our kids work hard every single day and to win a game like this to finish the season, I'm just so happy for them."