Manny Day has learned to become a leader for the Grandview Heights High School boys soccer team.
In the past, the senior forward played alongside upperclassmen who contributed to four consecutive Division III district championships. Much of that experience graduated last spring, leaving Day to lead the Bobcats both on and off the field.
Day finished the regular season with 30 goals and six assists, helping Grandview earn the top seed in the district. The Bobcats were 11-2-3 overall before opening the postseason Oct. 17 against 16th-seeded West Jefferson or 21st-seeded Millersport in a second-round contest at home.
"It's really different this year because of the dynamic of our team," Day said. "Last year, pretty much the whole varsity was seniors and juniors and this year it's mostly sophomores and juniors. Now we have a ton of guys who were previously freshmen and sophomores that have had to fill in spots on varsity this year."
Day has filled the leadership role well, according to coach James Gerdes.
"Manny has been really excellent," said Gerdes, whose team was fourth in last week's state poll behind No. 1 Toledo Ottawa Hills. "He is really unselfish despite scoring that many goals. He works very hard for his teammates and his assist totals show that. I think it has been great for their development playing with him as well as for the defenders going up against him in practice."
The Bobcats won their first league championship since 2014 by tying Columbus Academy at 2-1-1 in the MSL-Ohio Division. They won the title after Bexley defeated Whitehall 3-2 on Oct. 10. The Rams (1-1-2) and Lions (2-2) tied for third.
Whitehall's league victory was a 3-1 decision over Grandview on Sept. 5. The Bobcats had won the five previous meetings, including four by shutout, and had outscored the Rams 27-1 in those contests.
"At the start of the season we were young and inexperienced, but we stepped up after we had a pretty bad loss to Whitehall and we haven't lost since," said Day, whose team has gone 8-0-3 since the loss to the Rams. "We all kind of came together after that game. We weren't going to let our season go awry. We turned it around at that point.
"The way everyone has stepped up and really filled their roles has been the big difference. A lot of the defense and midfield had not played there before. This team plays harder than any team I have played with. Everyone just works so incredibly hard for each other."
Gerdes has marveled at Day's skills on the field, but said his newly found swagger sets him apart.
"The obvious skills that Manny brings are his pace, his anticipation, his intelligence and his hard work," Gerdes said. "This year he has added a level of confidence. He believes he is going to score every time he walks on the field. He believes his (scoring) ideas will work and that level of confidence just adds to what he already has.
"Also, he is scoring against good teams. He doesn't have games where he racked up more than three or four goals because we pull him in games we are winning by a large margin."
If the Bobcats won their postseason opener, they will play host to 12th-seeded Northridge, 15th-seeded Heath or 17th-seeded Horizon Science in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 23.
The district final is Oct. 27 at a site to be determined.
"It's going to take 80 minutes of 100 percent concentration from everybody on our team to get back to a district final," said Day, who has not decided if he will play soccer in college. "Everyone has to work hard and step up, and if we're able to keep playing like we have been, I think we'll have no trouble winning another (district title)."
Cross country teams prepare for district
The boys and girls cross country teams are getting ready to compete in the Division III, district 1 meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hilliard Darby.
The top three boys teams and top 12 individuals qualify for regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. In the girls race, the top four teams and top 16 individuals advance.
Both teams finished third in the MSL-Ohio meet Oct. 13 at Camp Bobcat.
For the girls, Nina Amicon was second (20 minutes, 25.1 seconds) behind Annalise Grammel (19:48.9) of Academy as the Bobcats (68 points) placed behind Bexley (31) and Academy (55) and ahead of Worthington Christian (93) and Whitehall (108).
Liza DeVere (eighth, 22:15.3) was next, followed by Emmalyn Kukura (15th, 24:42.4), Nina Brown (18th, 25:04.8) and Scarlett Martinsek (25th, 31:53.8).
Derek Amicon (second, 17:02.9) and Chris Miller (third, 17:14.7) led the boys as Taylor Vallangeon (17:01.6) of Worthington Christian finished first. The boys (83) placed behind Academy (43) and Bexley (46) and ahead of Worthington Christian (98) and Whitehall (102).
Also competing were Luke Wallace (21st, 20:11.0), P.J. Tingler (26th, 21:29.9), Garrett Culberson (31st, 22:17.6), James Elliott (32nd, 22:21.5) and Adam Ellis (34th, 23:02.5).
Girls soccer team opens postseason
The second-seeded girls soccer team opened the Division III district tournament Oct. 16 at home against 15th-seeded Cristo Rey.
The winner advanced to a second-round contest against seventh-seeded Columbus School for Girls or 10th-seeded Fisher Catholic on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the home of the better seed. Grandview defeated CSG 2-0 on Sept. 29.
The second-round winner plays in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24, against fourth-seeded Academy, sixth-seeded Johnstown, 12th-seeded Liberty Union or 13th-seeded Tree of Life at the home of the better seed. The Bobcats tied Academy at 1 on Oct. 3.
The district final is Oct. 27 at a site to be determined.
The Bobcats closed the regular season at 11-2-2, defeating Zanesville 2-1 on Oct. 11. Olivia Girardi and Whitney Schaefer scored and goalkeeper Ruby Gentile had five saves.
Volleyball team begins postseason
The 20th-seeded girls volleyball team played at third-seeded Newark Catholic on Oct. 16 in the first round of the Division III district tournament.
The winner plays host to 22nd-seeded Amanda-Clearcreek on Saturday, Oct. 20, and that winner advances to a district semifinal against eighth-seeded Madison Plains, ninth-seeded North Union or 15th-seeded East Knox on Tuesday, Oct. 23, at Mount Vernon Nazarene
The district final is Oct. 27 at Mount Vernon Nazarene.
The Bobcats finished the regular season at 6-16 overall, falling to Cristo Rey 20-25, 25-17, 25-23, 27-25 on Oct. 11. Grandview finished 1-7 in the MSL-Ohio, losing to Academy 27-25, 25-14, 25-12 on Oct. 9.