The Whitehall-Yearling High School boys soccer team entered the season with hopes of winning an MSL-Ohio Division title and was on track to accomplishing that goal, leading host Bexley 2-0 in the first half Oct. 10.
The Lions didn't quit, though, rallying for a 3-2 victory that dashed the Rams' championship hopes. Whitehall finished 1-1-2 in the league to tie Bexley (2-2) for third behind co-champions Columbus Academy and Grandview (both 2-1-1).
"It's back to the drawing board," senior midfielder Kelvin Gutierrez said. "We have a nice team. We have to keep up the hard work and keep pushing through. We have a lot of young talent and sometimes they lose their heads. You just have to keep them in the game and let them know that this isn't the last game. You have to keep grinding. It's not a race, it's a marathon."
Fernando Sanchez opened the scoring 1 minute, 44 seconds into the game and Lauro Guijosa scored on a penalty kick with 27:46 left in the first half.
Whitehall was poised to take a 2-0 lead into halftime when goalkeeper Jared Alvarez deflected a corner kick out of bounds with 1.7 seconds remaining. The Lions, however, were awarded another corner kick when the referee stopped the clock, ruling Bexley was allowed another scoring opportunity.
John Niermeyer scored off the corner kick to pull the Lions to within 2-1. In the second half, Will Simpson scored with 11:30 to play and Miles Joseph scored with 10:25 remaining to cap the comeback.
"It was our game," Gutierrez said. "It was a tough call that the referee made. I don't know why they stopped the clock. They're not supposed to stop the clock."
Whitehall played most of the second half without Guijosa, who injured his left knee early in the half. Coach T.J. Mohammed was hoping Guijosa would be able to play in the Division I district tournament.
Alvarez finished with 10 saves.
"I want to encourage them to play the same way everywhere we go," Mohammed said. "There's a place to get better every game and that's what we do. When we have a situation like this it motivates us to get back and be better. You're not going to play soccer the whole 80 minutes without seeing mistakes. ... We're going to move on, work hard and get better."
The Rams lost at Westerville Central 4-1 on Oct. 11 and were 4-6-6 overall before playing at 22nd-seeded Hilliard Davidson in the first round of the district tournament Oct. 17. The winner plays at 16th-seeded Olentangy Orange on Saturday, Oct. 20, with that winner likely facing fifth-seeded Dublin Coffman in a semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 24.
Whitehall was seeded 38th of 48 teams.
Casey Hernandez scored and Alvarez had 10 saves against Central.
Football team to play Ready
The football team will look to run its winning streak to eight when it plays Ready on Friday, Oct. 19, at Fortress Obetz.
The Rams are 7-1 overall and improved to 4-0 in the MSL-Ohio with a 37-10 win at Bexley on Oct. 12.
Quarterback Raymell Byrd rushed for 199 yards and one touchdown as Whitehall outgained Bexley 326-51 in total yards.
Ready fell to 3-5 with a 49-14 loss to London on Oct. 12. Jack Foley rushed for 137 yards on 19 carries and Jashan Norris had three catches for 70 yards and one touchdown.
The Rams will play host to London on Oct. 26 with the league title on the line. The Red Raiders are 8-0 overall and 3-0 in the league as they prepare to play Bexley on Oct. 19.
Cross country teams prepare for postseason
The boys and girls cross country teams will compete in the Division I, district 2 meet Saturday, Oct. 20, at Hilliard Darby.
In the boys race, the top five teams and top 20 individuals advance to regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North.
The boys finished fifth (102 points) in the MSL-Ohio meet Oct. 13 at Camp Bobcat in Chillicothe behind Academy (43), Bexley (46), Grandview (83) and Worthington Christian (98).
Chris Charles was 10th (18 minutes, 24.2 seconds) of 35 runners, followed by Naeb Hailu (19th, 19:39.6), Daba Hordofe (20th, 20:03.2), Alex Rodriguez (24th, 21:22.7) and Ben Pooch (29th, 22:13.5).
In the girls district race, the top six teams and top 24 individuals advance to regional.
The girls finished fifth (108) in the league meet behind Bexley (31), Academy (55), Grandview (68) and Worthington Christian (93).
Selam Alebachew was 12th (24:07.8) of 29 runners, followed by Abadite Negasi (20th, 26:48.6), Mya Cornell (23rd, 30:56.1), Tatiana Figueroa (26th, 32:28.8) and Cali Justice (27th, 32:29.9).
Girls soccer team closes season
The 15th-seeded girls soccer team lost at fourth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 9-0 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 15.
The Rams finished 3-10.
Season ends for girls volleyball team
The 23rd-seeded girls volleyball team lost at sixth-seeded Bloom-Carroll 25-9, 25-17, 25-8 in the first round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 15.
The Rams finished 2-18.
For the season, Makhia Hinton led the Rams in kills (185), aces (34) and blocks (16), while Riley Maxstead led in assists (151) and Alyson Shoemaker led in digs (118).
Girls tennis coach sees improvement
First-year girls tennis coach Anthony Paletta was pleased with his team's progress during what he called "a building year."
"Overall, we had about 10 girls on the team and spent a lot of time teaching the fundamentals of tennis," Paletta said. "Even though our record does not demonstrate wins, I believe we won in many other ways. We saw tremendous growth and dedication from our players."
Paletta said the leadership of senior Shawntavia Craine played a key role in the team's development.
Whitehall's season ended when it went 0-5 in a Division I sectional Oct. 5 at Pickerington Central. The Rams finished 0-13 overall and 0-5 in the MSL-Ohio.
Those eligible to return include juniors Iftu Bakaye, Jennifer Duarte-Gonzalez and Izzy Simmons, sophomores Eyerusalem Geda and Anna von Dolln and freshmen Leslie Gonzalez, Ingrid Martinez-Gonzalez, Shaye Parsley and Jacqueline Ponce Torresilla.