Leadership and talent helped the St. Charles Preparatory School soccer team win its second Division I district championship in three seasons.
The third-seeded Cardinals defeated 20th-seeded Dublin Scioto 2-0 in a district final Oct. 27 at Hartley. They also won a district title in 2016 and went on to reach the state final, which they lost 2-1 to Cleveland St. Ignatius.
“Top to bottom, position by position, we have more talent (than our 2016 team),” coach Chris Vonau said. “Leadership is emerging at the right time. We have a lot still yet to prove and a lot we still have to work for, but we have guys who are leaders and born to be that and they’re starting to realize it.”
The eighth-ranked Cardinals were 14-3-2 before playing Dublin Coffman on Oct. 31 in a regional semifinal, with the winner playing second-ranked Olentangy Liberty or Pickerington North in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 3, at a neutral site to be determined. The Cardinals defeated North 2-0 on Aug. 17 and lost to Liberty 2-0 on Sept. 6.
The regional champion plays third-ranked Cincinnati Moeller, 10th-ranked Cincinnati St. Xavier, Cincinnati Anderson or Cincinnati Turpin in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 7, at a neutral site. St. Charles played Moeller to a scoreless tie Sept. 29.
The state final is Nov. 10 at Mapfre Stadium.
In the district final, senior midfielder Christian Buendia scored 2 minutes, 2 seconds into the game and junior defender Will Byorth added a goal with 10 minutes remaining in the first half. Senior goalkeeper Joe Marchionda had six saves.
“We had to come out flying,” Buendia said. “We knew that if we came out and got a quick goal that (the Irish) would be on their heels. That first goal carried the momentum for us.”
The Cardinals reached the final by defeating 18th-seeded Reynoldsburg 1-0 on Oct. 23 at home in a semifinal. Buendia scored and Marchionda had five saves.
“We always turn to Christian for leadership and he has been a staple for us,” Vonau said. “He has started to figure out that he’s a leader for us and he’s one of the best finishers, if not the best finisher, in the state.”
Water polo team wins fifth state title
The top-seeded water polo team captured its fifth state championship, defeating second-seeded Cincinnati Sycamore 17-6 in the final Oct. 27 at Mason.
The Cardinals went 3-0 in the two-day state tournament to finish 38-3.
It was the first state title since 2014 for St. Charles, which also won championships in 2010, 2011 and 2013. It finished runner-up the past two seasons, including a 15-13 overtime loss to Thomas Worthington in the final last year.
“We were up 7-1 in the championship last season and ending up losing,” said senior center/wing Jon Sugar, who had five goals against Sycamore. “That stuck in our mind for the past year and we didn’t want to let that happen again.
“We really didn’t have one standout player, but all seven guys in the pool stayed within their roles. That was the biggest key to our success.”
The Cardinals had a first-round bye before defeating Milford 34-5 in the second round and Cincinnati Princeton 21-9 in a semifinal.
Junior wing Thomas Lennox also scored five times in the final. Senior center Andrew Edwards had two goals, and senior guard/wing Griffin Beam, junior wings Chris Edwards, Travis Miller and Alex Nash and sophomore wing Will Elsrod all scored one. Junior goalie Seth Miller had nine saves.
The Cardinals had just five seniors in Beam, Andrew Edwards, Alec Lohiser (center), Sean Ritchey (center guard/wing) and Sugar.
“We have really big junior and senior classes with like nine juniors and 11 sophomores,” Sugar said. “We should have an experienced group back next year that will be able to give a lot of leadership.”
Cross country team falls short of state
The cross country team finished 16th (380 points) in the Division I regional meet Oct. 27 at Pickerington North behind champion Hilliard Davidson (95) as the top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 3, at National Trail Raceway.
Senior Iain Karas was 46th (17 minutes, 12.3 seconds) to lead the Cardinals, followed by senior Liam O’Reilly (91st, 17:48.8), junior Ethan Encarnacion (92nd, 17:49.8), sophomore Owen Karas (108th, 18:08.8), junior Andrew Sarff (111th, 18:22.2), senior Jacob Franz (117th, 18:50.1) and senior Will Blubaugh (124th, 19:14.8).
“We battled injuries and illness all year so it was good to be able to make it (to regional),” said coach Damien Brandon, who completed his 10th season. “We weren’t really healthy until the district meet, where everything came together for us.”
Iain Karas was 19th (17:09.0) in the district 2 race Oct. 20 at Hilliard Darby to lead the Cardinals, who earned the final regional berth by finishing fifth (164) behind champion Davidson (30).
The Cardinals won their 12th consecutive CCL championship and 19th in 20 seasons Oct. 13 at Otterbein.
Football team falls to Hartley in finale
The football team finished 4-6 overall and 0-3 in the CCL under first-year coach Deke Hocker, losing to visiting Hartley 6-3 on Oct. 26.
Senior running back Taylor Bryant led the Cardinals with 72 yards rushing on 22 carries. Sophomore kicker Nick Bastaja had a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter.
The Cardinals had only one win last fall.