Westland High School boys soccer coach Jamie Dato is hoping his team will bounce back from what he considers a down season.
The Cougars finished 5-11-1 overall after recording an 8-8-1 record in Dato’s first season in 2016 and an 8-9 mark last year.
“It was a little disappointing,” Dato said. “I think we underachieved. They played well at times and other times watching film you could see how they got out of position. That’s probably why our record was the way it was. I wish it was better, but it wasn’t.”
Seeded 34th for the Division I district tournament, the Cougars lost at 24th-seeded Groveport 3-0 in the first round Oct. 17.
Westland went 1-4 in the OCC-Central Division to finish fifth behind champion Dublin Coffman (4-0-1).
The Cougars’ league win came against Central Crossing 3-1 on Oct. 9. Westland has won all three meetings with the Comets during Dato’s tenure and is 7-0-2 in the last nine games in the series.
The Cougars also defeated Franklin Heights 6-0 on Aug. 21, Independence 8-5 on Aug. 23, Briggs 4-1 on Aug. 30 and Lancaster 4-1 on Oct. 4. They tied Canal Winchester at 1 on Aug. 28.
Midfielder Juan Martinez led a nine-player senior class and was named first-team all-league.
“It was an OK season,” he said. “We could have done better. I expected more, but we did our best. I enjoyed playing at Westland.”
Senior midfielder Mesiah Bawi was second-team all-league, junior forward Bawi Lian was special mention all-league and senior defender Jamie Martinez was honorable mention all-league.
Lian had 10 goals and one assist, Juan Martinez had nine goals and three assists, Bawi had three goals and five assists, senior forward Axel Rodriguez had five goals and junior forward Van Uk had four goals and two assists.
Junior goalkeeper Trent Beach had 73 saves.
“It will be nice to have Trent coming back just for consistency,” Dato said.
Other players eligible to return include juniors TeiTu Bawi (defender), Junior Garcia (defender), Abraham Perez (midfielder), Manny Rojas (defender) and Luis Santos (midfielder) and sophomore Ulises Martinez (midfielder).
The seniors “were all nice kids,” Dato said. “You always hate to see guys go.”
Juan Martinez said Dato has turned around the program.
“I like the job that he is doing,” Martinez said. “He’s helping a lot of new players and teaching us new ways of playing. He has the program going in the right direction. He shows that he cares about us.”
Seniors set standard for volleyball team
Led by her team’s eight seniors, girls volleyball coach Nicole Zumpano was pleased with the Cougars’ progress.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better group of seniors and I wish them luck in the future,” Zumpano said. “They really set the standard for this program going forward and they will be missed.”
After a first-round bye, the 48th-seeded Cougars lost to fifth-seeded Worthington Kilbourne 25-15, 25-6, 25-14 in the second round of the Division I district tournament Oct. 18 to finish 5-18 overall.
Senior outside hitter Hannah Walls was first-team all-league and senior defensive specialist Brooklyn Granato was honorable mention all-league. Walls led Westland in kills (200) and blocks (42), and Granato led in digs (291).
Senior setter Cameron Phaunef led in assists (454) and junior defensive specialist Kalista Prak led in aces (41).
The Cougars played most of the season without senior outside hitter Madison Green, who had an elbow injury.
Westland went 1-9 in the OCC-Central to tie Central Crossing for sixth behind champion Coffman (10-0). The Cougars defeated the Comets 25-23, 19-25, 25-22, 25-22 on Oct. 11.
Sophomore middle hitter Ashley DuMelle also is eligible to return.
Football team loses finale
The football team closed the season with a 49-13 loss at Hilliard Davidson to finish 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central.
Senior quarterback DeShawn Evans passed for 125 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown to Anthony Widen in the second quarter.
Nick Martin added a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.