The painful ending to last season never really healed for the Wellington boys soccer team's returnees.
Four days after the Jaguars won a Division III district title, they were blasted 7-2 by Grandview in a regional semifinal.
"We had a really good squad last year, but our season ended poorly in the regional semifinal," coach J.J. Bain said. "That has been a source of motivation and focus. Since last December, this group has been special in its commitment to rectifying and improving every aspect of our program to ensure we can maximize our potential and reach a certain level of consistency in everything we do."
That was accomplished during this year's district tournament, as the second-seeded Jaguars outscored their opponents 24-0, including a 5-0 win over 13th-seeded Fairbanks in a district final Oct. 26 at Marysville.
Wellington, which beat ninth-seeded Columbus International 7-0 in a district semifinal Oct. 23, has won three district championships in four seasons.
"One big reason to our success is that we all just love playing together," senior midfielder/forward Freddie Lin said. "We all have the drive to keep winning so we can keep playing with each other every day. We just have to approach each game like it's our last. At this point in the season, as the competition level rises, it all comes down to mentality and who wants to win more. Soccer-wise, we have prepared very well. We just have to stay sharp and focused."
The Jaguars were 14-2-3 before playing Berlin Hiland in a regional semifinal Oct. 29 at Lakewood. The winner plays Lynchburg-Clay or South Webster in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be announced.
The regional champion plays Botkins, Cincinnati Mariemont, Cincinnati Seven Hills or Grandview in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, at a site to be announced, with the state final set for Nov. 10 at Mapfre Stadium.
Against Fairbanks, Jordan Livits scored off a pass from Lin to make it 1-0. Adenola Atekoja and Livits both finished with two goals and Ahmet Ozer score one.
"Since our 11th game, we've been treating every game like a must-win situation," senior midfielder/forward Eli Dulle said.
Girls soccer team excited for future
With all but three players set to return, the girls soccer team is looking forward to building on what it accomplished late this season.
The fifth-seeded Jaguars upset fourth-seeded Fairbanks 2-1 in overtime Oct. 19 to advance to a Division III district semifinal, where it lost to second-seeded and eventual district champion Columbus Academy 2-1 in overtime Oct. 22.
Sophomore forward Mary Morosky scored off of a free kick to give Wellington a 1-0 lead, but Academy tied the game and scored the winning goal with 5 minutes, 56 seconds left in overtime.
The Jaguars, who also lost to the Vikings 2-1 on Sept. 7, finished 9-9.
"We hit the post off of a free kick with 15 minutes left, almost scored off of a corner with 10 minutes left and had a controversial goal called back for being offsides (late in) regulation," coach Lindsey Smith said.
Wellington had just three seniors in Eli Burkhardt (goalkeeper/defender), Mia Croft (defender) and Maddy Morosky (midfielder).
Mary Morosky finished with 22 goals and nine assists, Maddy Morosky had 14 goals and seven assists and sophomore defender Sloane Shock added seven goals and seven assists.
Mary Morosky and Shock both made first-team all-MSL-Ohio Division.
Juniors Caroline Cooke (midfielder), Christine Cooke (midfielder), Lu Godfrey (forward), Lina Grohovsky (goalie/forward), Reagan Kadlic (defender) and Lola Perez (midfielder) also were key players.
Others eligible to return include junior Mari Hannah (defender), sophomore Macy Croft (forward) and freshmen Lilliana Adkinson (defender), Olivia Robinson (forward) and Sophia Shihab (forward).
"Our seniors really stepped up and demonstrated great leaders," Smith said. "Many of our younger and less experienced players developed into strong, contributing players as the season progressed. This group of players genuinely cared for each other and celebrated one another's success. They had great chemistry on and off the field and were always open and willing to learn from their mistakes along the way.
"I'm excited to see (the returnees) develop as leaders. They have great potential and I can already tell they will be a unified group."