When the Westerville Central boys soccer team was seeded 23rd for the Division I district tournament, few likely gave it a chance of winning a title.
The Warhawks proved any doubters wrong.
Kyle Stewart's goal with 6 minutes, 54 seconds remaining in the second overtime lifted Central to a 1-0 win over fifth-seeded Dublin Scioto in a district final Oct. 26 at Olentangy Berlin.
"We thought we could do this," coach Dave Pence said. "We've been fighting injuries all year. We haven't had a full lineup until the end of the year. This senior class is committed to make a run and we're doing it."
It was the Warhawks' first district title since 2010.
"It's been too long," Pence said. "That's what the boys were saying. We've been to quite a few district championships, but they were silver (plaques). We wanted the gold. These guys have worked so hard (in their) training."
The Warhawks were 11-8-1 before playing Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal Oct. 30, with the winner facing St. Charles or Worthington Kilbourne in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a neutral site.
The regional champion plays Cincinnati Elder, Cincinnati Moeller, Cincinnati St. Xavier or Liberty Township Lakota East in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 6, at a neutral site.
Stewart redirected Zach Smith's throw-in past Scioto goalkeeper Declan Farrell for the game-winner.
"Playing in a district final has always been a goal for me," Stewart said. "It was our first (district title) in nine years. It means a lot and we're going to keep building on this for next year."
Central goalie Sam Rojana-sakdakul had eight saves.
The Warhawks' Aidan Nowell helped keep the game scoreless earlier in the second overtime when he cleared a scoring chance near his goal line.
Central advanced to the district final with a 3-2 win at fourth-seeded Pickerington North on Oct. 22. Alex Perrini had two goals, Jack Bumbico scored one and Rojanasakdakul made 16 saves.
Girls volleyball team falls in district final
The 15th-seeded girls volleyball team had its season end in a 25-15, 25-17, 25-14 loss to fifth-seeded Liberty in a Division I district final Oct. 26 at Whitehall.
Central also lost both matches to Liberty in OCC-Buckeye Division play. It finished 17-7 overall and 4-6 in the league.
"It was a great season," coach Shelly Ebright said. "Last year they went 11-12 and to go (to a) district final this year (is) awesome."
The Warhawks won a pair of five-set matches to advance to the final. They defeated sixth-seeded and host Watkins Memorial 25-22, 15-25, 26-24, 22-25, 15-13 in the second round Oct. 17 and fourth-seeded Hilliard Bradley 25-22, 12-25, 25-14, 20-25, 15-10 in a semifinal Oct. 24 at Whitehall.
Junior outside hitter Riley Kindall was first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district, senior outside hitter Maddie Saunders was second-team all-district and all-league, junior right-side hitter Josie Curran was special mention all-league and junior libero/defensive specialist Ava Hampton was honorable mention all-league.
Also eligible to return are junior Kaitlyn Pasi (defensive specialist/setter) and sophomores Mia Cline (defensive specialist) and Marissa Hodges (middle hitter).
"The girls started working six months ago with a goal in mind," Ebright said. "Their (motto) was 'stay hungry' and they kept getting better and better."
Runners close season at regional
The boys and girls cross country teams saw their season end in the Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
The girls finished 17th (328) of 17 teams behind champion Hilliard Davidson (36).
"Our team was disappointed," coach Ryan Borland said. "It's unfortunate that this was probably our worst race of the season as a team. ... Our team was just a little off. That's on me. We have to make sure they're better prepared."
Sophomore Tara Will led the Warhawks by finishing 35th (20:06.5), followed by senior Kayla Jones (79th, 20:45.3), freshman Rylee Mensel (84th, 20:50), junior Ashley Hockstok (85th, 20:50.5), senior Ellie Mallon (100th, 21:03.9) and juniors Chloe Stefan-Adams (107th, 21:19.5) and Lauryn Chapman (118th, 21:48.9).
Hockstok, who was one of the team's top runners all season, was in contention for a regional berth at the 2-mile mark before a foot injury slowed her pace, according to Borland.
"We had a good season," Borland said. "(Regional) was disappointing, but I thought this team achieved quite a bit this year."
As the boys team's lone regional qualifier, junior Haden Fulkerson finished 35th in 16:50.9.
"Haden ran a solid race," coach Jason Loughman said. "Haden had a great season and he continues to improve. He's really starting to race with the confidence that he belongs in the lead pack. He's worked really hard during the season and in the offseason, and he embraces competition. We are looking forward to an even better season next year as a senior."
Other key runners eligible to return are juniors Evan Kienle and Evan Radecki and sophomores Matt Bartrum, Dominic Iquina and Chip Smith.
Girls soccer team puts up fight in loss
Although his team finished with a losing record, girls soccer coach Bobby Weimer was impressed with its effort all season.
The 25th-seeded Warhawks battled host Dublin Coffman, the top seed in the Division I district tournament, in a semifinal Oct. 23 before falling 1-0. They finished 6-11-1 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Buckeye.
"We had a good plan and we executed it," Weimer said. "We just had one little hiccup that they capitalized on, but we had a couple really good chances in the first half. We played hard. We did everything we were supposed to do. It just wasn't good enough."
Weimer is hoping to build on the strong effort heading into next season.
"It gives our younger kids some perspective on how close they are," he said. "This is the (eighth) game this year we lost by a goal and we lost by a goal to a lot of good teams. While it seems like we're far off record-wise, we're not really that far off."
Eligible to return are juniors Nina Domanik (midfielder), Ella Fortin (defender), Erin Hunley (forward), Kaycee Johnston (defender), Margaret Owsiany (forward) and Lauryn White (midfielder), sophomores Ashley Carson (forward), Taylor Hickman (goalie), Megan Schimmel (forward) and Will (defender) and freshmen Natalie Koenig (defender), Mensel (midfielder/forward) and Elena Summanen (goalie).
White missed the season after undergoing left ACL surgery.
The Warhawks lose eight players to graduation.
"I appreciate all the hard work that they did and everything they did for the program the last four years," Weimer said. "Our senior class has been great. They've been great role models for our younger players. They've done everything we've asked them to do. It's one of the best classes I've had come through one of my programs in the 19 years I've been doing this."