DeSales High School boys soccer coach Domenic Romanelli said he truly has no idea how his team’s trip to New York City this week will turn out.
The Stallions will visit Forest Hills, New York, on Thursday, Sept. 27, before taking on perennial power New York City Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus on Saturday, Sept. 29, at Randall’s Island Park, but one thing of which Romanelli is certain is that the trip will not be measured solely by results.
“We could go 2-0, 1-1, 0-2, play to two ties, whatever, but results aren’t what we are going there for,” Romanelli said. “It’s for the experience, for the tests. It’s unique, for sure. I don’t know what we’re getting ourselves into, but overall it will be a positive.”
Martin Luther King Jr. has won two consecutive Public School Athletic League Class A championships and went 18-0 last year, but the Knights have made headlines for the way they built their program. Coach Martin Jacobson, who is in his 23rd season, is a recovered heroin addict who has lived with hepatitis C since 1994 but took a team that went 0-12-1 in 1993 to 18 league titles since 1996 with an assortment of international players at a unique school.
The campus consists of six separate schools on different floors of the building – High School for Arts, Imagination and Inquiry, High School of the Arts and Technology, High School for Law, Advocacy and Community Justice, Manhattan/Hunter College High School for Sciences, Special Music School High School and Urban Assembly School for Media Studies.
The schools, which are located two blocks west of Central Park and approximately 1.5 miles from Times Square, dismiss and have lunch at different times. They also have unique uniforms.
“I saw in (our players) that they all knew how to play,” Jacobson, also known as “Coach Jake,” told Sports Illustrated in 2014. “I saw that talent in them and I just had to bring that out of them. I had to give them a little structure and give them love. …
“Our program grew and it grew and it grew. It’s not about the fame, it’s about the feeling. I am addicted to winning because I am also a former addict. I replaced everything with winning, and winning makes me feel like every endorphin in the world has hit my body.”
Jacobson and Romanelli met during the United Soccer Coaches Association’s national convention this past summer in Philadelphia. Romanelli was in attendance to pick up an All-American award for 2018 graduate Hector Gomez, the Division II state Player of the Year the past two years who now plays at Ohio Wesleyan, and Jacobson was a speaker.
“He was the keynote speaker because of his story. I approached him afterward about playing and he didn’t bat an eye,” Romanelli said. “We’ve tried to play Division I teams and nationally ranked teams closer to us, but nobody wants to play a Division
II school. I talked to my athletics director (Tom Neubert) and we got the ball rolling.”
Helping facilitate the trip was that DeSales does not have school Sept. 27 and Friday, Sept. 28, because of teacher in-service days.
The team was scheduled to leave via three vans Sept. 26 and spend the night in eastern Pennsylvania before completing the trip Sept. 27. The Stallions’ game against Forest Hills is at 4 p.m., and they will use Sept. 28 as a tourism day before playing Martin Luther King Jr. in an 8 p.m. game the next day.
The team will attend Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday, Sept. 30, before traveling home.
“We’re all excited for the experience and the opportunity … to play different teams we typically wouldn’t play,” midfielder Mike Cockerell said.
“We’re up for the challenge. This is an opportunity to show who we really are and how we can play.”
DeSales, which has been ranked first in the Division II state poll all season, was 8-1 overall and 2-0 in the CCL before playing St. Charles on Sept. 25.
The Stallions defeated Watterson 7-0 in their league opener Sept. 18 and outscored their first eight opponents 32-0 before their first loss of the season, 2-1 at Hilliard Bradley on Sept. 20.
DeSales led Bradley 1-0 at halftime.
Although Cockerell has visited New York several times to see his older sister, Bella, who attended Wagner College and lives in Brooklyn, he chuckled at being a designated tour guide.
“I usually go there at least twice a year,” Cockerell said. “I’ll definitely point us to some good pizza places or some other fun spots.”
Runners stand out at Pickerington meet
The boys and girls cross country teams both recorded their best times of the season Sept. 22 in the Tiger Invitational at Pickerington Central.
John Shoemaker of the boys team finished 19th in 17 minutes, 27.6 seconds, 16.1 seconds better than his previous best time set in the season-opening Newark Catholic Invitational on Aug. 25 at Bryn Du Mansion.
The Stallions finished eighth (219 points) of 10 teams at Central as Gahanna won (38).
Also scoring were Ian McCandlish (25th, 17:44.3), Jonathan Pusateri (56th, 18:58.9), Isaiah Rush (66th, 19:22.9) and Nico Cadena (67th, 19:23.2).
On the girls side, Bre Callahan finished 17th in 21:19.9, eclipsing her previous best mark of the season by 51.1 seconds, as the Stallions placed seventh (156) of eight teams, behind champion Teays Valley (47).
Callahan was followed by Anya Vanasdale (20th, 21:32.9), Gracey Wilson (35th, 22:22.4), Cate Leithauser (47th, 23:02.8) and Hannah Pekarcik (56th, 23:19.5).
Golf teams prepare for sectionals
Coming off its first Mid-Ohio Girls Golf League championship, the girls golf team will compete in a Division I sectional Tuesday, Oct. 2, at Mentel Memorial, from which the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the district tournament Oct. 9 at Cooks Creek.
DeSales wrapped up the MOGGL title Sept. 18 at Village View, shooting a 195 in the fourth and final round of the league tournament to finish one stroke ahead of runner-up Licking Valley (196).
Scoring for the Stallions were Amanda Pancake (40), Paige Verfurth (48) and Stephanie Circelli (52). Faith Corn and Lizzy Gutman each shot a 55 for the Stallions’ fourth score.
The boys team competed in a Division II sectional Sept. 25 at Oakhaven, where the top three teams and top three individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to district Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Denison Golf Club.
At district, the top team and top individual not on the qualifying team advance to state Oct. 12 and 13 at Ohio State’s Scarlet Course.
In the CCL postseason tournament Sept. 23 at Apple Valley, Kyle Zevchik’s round of 85 led the Stallions to a team score of 358 and fourth place behind St. Charles (297), Watterson (319) and Hartley (324) and ahead of Ready (650). Also scoring were Andrew Connor (88), Ryan Ratchford (91) and Michael Cummins (94).
DeSales went 2-6 in the league to finish fourth behind the Cardinals (8-0), who won their 11th consecutive league championship, and Hartley and Watterson (both 5-3) and ahead of Ready (0-8).
Below are the coming schedules for the DeSales cross country, girls golf, boys soccer, girls soccer, girls tennis and girls volleyball teams:
Sept. 29 – Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club
Sept. 27 – Hartley at New Albany Links
Oct. 2 – Division I sectional at Mentel Memorial
Sept. 27 – At Forest Hills (N.Y.)
Sept. 29 – New York City Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Campus at Randall’s Island Park, N.Y.
*Oct. 2 – At Hartley
*Sept. 27 – At Columbus School for Girls
Sept. 29 – At Olentangy Orange
Sept. 27 – At Delaware
Oct. 2 – Mount Vernon at Woodward Park
*Sept. 27 – Home vs. Watterson. The Stallions defeated the Eagles 25-15, 25-17, 25-16 on Sept. 11.
Sept. 29 – Black and Gold Invitational at Perrysburg