Part of Fernando Dapino’s drive on the soccer field goes back to the moment when he couldn’t feel anything at all.
During a game with his Ohio Premier club team in April 2017, the senior forward for the Upper Arlington High School boys soccer team overextended his right hamstring while going for a ball in the air, leading to what two months later would be diagnosed as a stress fracture in his spine.
“I did not have the flexibility in my hamstring, so I over-rotated my hip and I felt the vertebrae pop in my lower back,” Dapino said. “I lost sensation in the lower half of my body for about 30 seconds. It was probably the most painful thing I’ve ever experienced. I played on it for a few weeks and then I got an MRI and they said, ‘Yeah, you have a stress fracture. You have to stop playing.’ And that was it.”
Dapino was sidelined until October 2017 and was limited to just six games with the Golden Bears last season, scoring two goals.
This year, he is making up for lost time. Dapino had a team-high 12 goals through 12 games – more than half of his team’s total of 24 – and UA was 7-3-2 overall and 3-0 in the OCC-Central Division before playing Marysville on Oct. 2.
“I came into the season with the goal of averaging one a game, so this is about where I expected myself to be. And with three assists on top of that (through 12 games), I am very happy with how my season is going,” Dapino said. “I was expecting big things from myself because I know what I am capable of and based off my club season, I knew I was capable of scoring one (goal) a game.”
Dapino had five games with at least two goals entering the week. His first three-goal game of the season came in a 3-1 win over Westland on Sept. 25 and allowed the Golden Bears to exceed their win total from a year ago, when they went 6-8-2.
“He came in incredibly fit and in form. I didn’t know he’d average a goal a game, but I knew he was capable of it so we keep feeding him,” coach Kevin Donovan said. “Having gone through what he went through, you feel like you have to get two years crammed into your senior season and he’s done that. Even if he stopped today, he’s done that. He’s just a hungry player. He just wants to be on the ball. He wants to score goals and he apologizes when he doesn’t. He’s been awesome.”
Dapino said his successful season has helped him overcome any hesitance he might have carried over from last year.
“I am a lot more confident in my abilities,” he said. “When I go to sprint for the ball, I sprint all out. I don’t stop short because I am scared. Last year, I was playing with fear. This year, I am feeling great. I am playing with confidence, going hard into everything.”
Dapino has scholarship offers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. He wants to become a mechanical engineer.
“We’ve told other guys they have to help him by being a threat as well, but we’re not 7-3-2 if not for what he is currently doing,” Donovan said. “People have to focus on him and even when they do, he can beat them. He is the cog that makes it all work.”
Girls tennis team set for sectional
The girls tennis team tried to remain undefeated on the season earlier this week before participating in a Division I sectional Thursday, Oct. 4, and Saturday, Oct. 6, at home.
The top four finishers in singles and doubles advance to the district tournament Oct. 11 and 13 at Reynoldsburg.
UA was 10-0 before playing host to Watterson in an Ohio Tennis Coaches Association Division I district quarterfinal Oct. 3. The Bears remained unbeaten with a 5-0 home win over Columbus School for Girls on Sept. 28 and a 4-1 win at Pickerington Central on Oct. 1.
The UA-Watterson winner will visit Olentangy or Olentangy Orange for a district semifinal on a date to be determined.
At sectional, both of the Bears’ doubles teams are favored to make district. Evelyn Holman and Wendy Shi are seeded first and Ella Hazelbaker and Noah Mizer are seeded second. Both of those teams made state last year, with Holman and Shi going 1-1 and Hazelbaker and Mizer losing their opening match.
Emma Wang is seeded fourth in singles at sectional. Also playing singles are Melanie Marszal and Rena Zhao.
Volleyball team tries to keep pace in league
The girls volleyball team sustained its first loss in OCC-Central play last week, falling to visiting Dublin Coffman 25-12, 25-12, 25-20 on Sept. 25, and will try to remain in contention for the league championship as the second round of league play continues.
UA was 13-5 overall and 5-1 in the OCC-Central before playing Hilliard Davidson on Oct. 2.
Coffman, which has won 11 consecutive league championships, was ranked 13th in the Division I state poll last week by MaxPreps.com.
The Bears and Shamrocks will finish league play against each other Oct. 11 at Coffman.
The Bears rebounded from the loss to the Shamrocks by defeating Central Crossing 25-11, 25-20, 25-21 in a league match Sept. 27.
Golf teams hoped to extend seasons
The boys and girls golf teams competed in Division I sectionals Oct. 2, hoping to prolong their seasons into this week and beyond.
The boys team played in a sectional at Darby Creek, from which the top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced
to the district tournament Tuesday, Oct. 9, at Apple Valley.
The girls were in a sectional at Mentel Memorial, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
From both district tournaments, the top two teams and top two individuals not on qualifying teams advance to their respective state tournaments Oct. 19 and 20 at Ohio State.
Below are the coming schedules for the Upper Arlington cross country, field hockey, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls volleyball and water polo teams:
Oct. 6 – Les Eisenhart Invitational at Thomas Worthington
Oct. 6 – At Cincinnati Ursuline Academy
Oct. 6 – At Cincinnati St. Ursula
*Oct. 10 – At Dublin Coffman
Oct. 6 – Home vs. Watterson
*Oct. 9 – Home vs. Dublin Coffman
*Oct. 9 – At Dublin Coffman
*Oct. 4 – At Westland. The Golden Bears defeated the Cougars 25-7, 25-10, 25-14 on Sept. 13.
*Oct. 9 – Home vs. Marysville. The Golden Bears defeated the Monarchs 15-25, 25-13, 25-18, 25-16 on Sept. 20.
Oct. 5-6 – Boys: Ann Arbor (Mich.) Skyline Invitational; Girls: Milford Invitational
Oct. 10 – Boys: Home vs. Worthington Kilbourne; Girls: Home vs. Kilbourne