DeSales High School girls lacrosse coach Joe Finotti not only makes his expectations clear to each of his players, but if they are not living up to the standard he sets, time on the field could be limited.
That almost was the case for junior attacker Grace Lensmire during a Division II, Region 7 semifinal against fourth-seeded Granville on May 22 at home. After a lackluster first half, she scored four of the top-seeded Stallions’ six second-half goals and five overall in a 13-7 win that brought DeSales to within three wins of its second state championship in three years.
The Stallions had led just 6-4 at halftime.
“My coaches were telling me to wake up the entire game, but it just registered in the second half,” said Lensmire, whose goals came consecutively. “I got myself into better positions and I made better opportunities for myself and my teammates. I was able to read the field better and create opportunities for everyone, not just myself.”
Lensmire had another five-goal performance May 25 as the Stallions defeated second-seeded Columbus Academy 16-7 in the regional final at Thomas Worthington. Sophia Finotti and Payton Nebraska both added three goals, and DeSales was 18-3 before playing Cincinnati Mariemont in a state semifinal May 29 at Dayton Chaminade Julienne.
Scoring and facilitating are not new roles for Lensmire, who led the Stallions in both goals (63) and assists (24) as a sophomore. Although she was not DeSales’ leading scorer through 21 games, she again was leading the team in assists as part of a three-pronged offensive attack that also featured Abbey Dop and Finotti.
“(Lensmire is) not only a scorer. Her assists are huge,” said coach Finotti, who earned his 100th career win May 25. “I expect six points out of her, between goals and assists, every game, whether that’s three goals and three assists or five goals and one assist. I want to see at least six points because I know she is capable of that.”
According to coach Finotti, Sophia Finotti had 71 goals through 21 games, followed by Dop with 61 and Lensmire with 54. Lensmire also had approximately 40 assists, coach Finotti said.
“Out of us three, I am the mover,” Lensmire said. “I feed (Dop and Finotti) and set them up. I try to take a few opportunities I create for myself as well.”
The DeSales-Mariemont winner will play Chagrin Falls or Rocky River in the state final at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 2, at Ohio Wesleyan.
The Stallions lost to Chagrin Falls 9-8 in double overtime in a state semifinal last year after defeating the Tigers in the 2016 state final.
Before the regional final, Sophia Finotti said the team has been able to maintain a business-like approach largely because it has become familiar with high-pressure situations.
“I personally tend to get flustered, but our team, we’ve been in very tough games this year and last year,” Finotti said. “We’ve been put in very tough situations that we’ve been able to overcome. We know what to do in those situations. We don’t want to lose that (quality) that if we’re down, we don’t get flustered. We’ve been able to not (commit) bad fouls or (make) many bad decisions. We want to keep our composure and just keep fighting through and keep our heads in the game.”
Ricci, Williams lead state track qualifiers
The boys track and field team’s 1,600-meter relay finished first in a program-record 3 minutes, 22.1 seconds in the Division II regional meet held May 24 and 26 at Lexington, leading two individuals and two relays into the state meet Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2 at Ohio State.
The relay consisted of Ian McCandlish, Zion Parker, Art Williams and Caden Zellner.
Also qualifying for state were Angelo Ricci in the long jump (second, 21 feet, 9 inches), the 800 relay of Ricci, A.J. Sallee, Isaiah Thomas and Williams (third, 1:30.79) and Williams in the 400 (fourth, 49.68).
The top four finishers in each regional event advanced to state. For the first time, two at-large state berths also were awarded for each running event based on regional times statewide.
Also competing but failing to advance were Sallee in the 110 hurdles (fifth, 15.24) and 200 (13th, 23.25), the 3,200 relay of McCandlish, Parker, Ben Towler and Zellner (sixth, 8:07.4), Towler in the 1,600 (ninth, 4:37.72), McCandlish in the 800 (10th, 2:00.45), Parker in the 800 (10th, 2:00.77), Thomas in the 200 (12th, 23.2) and 100 (13th, 11.49) and Noah Thompson in the 300 hurdles (16th, 45.73).
The Stallions scored 37 points to finish sixth behind champion Sandusky Perkins (70) as 45 teams scored.
This is DeSales’ best representation at state since 2015, when the boys team advanced seven individuals and three relays In Division II. The Stallions competed in Division I each of the past two seasons.
The girls team did not have any qualifiers for the Division I regional meet held May 23 and 25 at Pickerington North.
Boys lacrosse team rolls to regional title
The boys lacrosse team steadily widened its lead throughout the Division II, Region 7 final against second-seeded Buckeye Valley on May 24 at Fortress Obetz, scoring 14 goals in the middle two quarters to rout the Barons 19-3 and win its first regional championship since 2013.
Connor O’Brien scored four goals to lead top-seeded DeSales. Dante Fuller and Carter Hilleary both added two goals as the Stallions improved to 17-3 and played defending state champion Mariemont in a state semifinal May 29 at Chaminade Julienne.
Goalkeeper Connor Thune made eight saves.
“(This) win was huge,” coach Matt Triplet said. “This team is playing well together and are all focused on the step ahead of them. They have done a tremendous job of working together, supporting one another and are as close a family as I’ve seen in a while.”
The Stallions advanced with a 19-1 home win over fifth-seeded Kettering Alter in a regional semifinal May 21.
The DeSales-Mariemont winner will play Chagrin Falls or Toledo Ottawa Hills in the state final at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Ohio Wesleyan.
Athletes announce college decisions
Two student-athletes announced their college decisions May 21.
Jacqueline Scott will compete in women’s track and field at Indiana Tech, and Art Williams will compete in men’s track and field at Wheeling Jesuit.