Watterson Roundup: Girls volleyball team falls in state semifinal

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
Watterson's Sophie Mangold and Sydney Taylor (5) console each other following a three sets to one loss to Parma Padua in a Division I state semifinal Nov. 13 at Vandalia Butler. The Eagles finished 17-7.

With members of her program having competed at high levels of club volleyball, coach Stephanie Grieshop expected her Watterson girls team to handle the elevated stakes of the last two weeks from an emotional standpoint.

The Eagles followed winning their first Division I regional championship by hanging with Parma Padua, the No. 1 team in the nation according to MaxPreps.com, before losing 25-17, 15-25, 25-21, 25-23 in a state semifinal Nov. 13 at Vandalia Butler.

“I’m very blessed,” Grieshop said. “We’re very blessed to have players that have experience at the highest levels, with (senior) Sydney (Taylor) on the national team. The experience was there and the leadership was there.”

Watterson's Gina Grden, left, and Olyvia Kennedy celebrate scoring a point during the state semifinal with Ava Hoying, front, and Sophie Mangold.

Watterson, which finished 17-7, took a 12-9 lead in the third set against Padua on back-to-back kills by senior Olyvia Kennedy.

The Bruins, however, tied it at 12 and then built a 17-12 lead before winning the set.

Watterson and Padua were tied at 20, 21 and 22 in the fourth set before the Bruins closed out the match.

“They’ve been playing for one more day with each other,” Grieshop said. “It has nothing to do with trophies or medals, it’s just one more day together.

“It’s a very unique group. I’ve never coached a team like this before that’s really selfless and they play together and the play for each other, so it’s really fun.”

In the state semifinal, sophomore Ava Hoying finished with 13 kills, Kennedy and Taylor both had 12 kills and senior Gina Grden added 10 kills, while senior Sophie Mangold had 42 assists and 13 digs.

Watterson's Margo Lawson makes a play during the match against Parma Padua.

After avenging a regular-season loss to Olentangy Orange by beating the Pioneers 17-25, 26-24, 25-23, 25-21 on Nov. 7 for the regional title, the Eagles came up short of the same feat in the state semifinal after losing to Padua 26-24, 14-25, 25-23, 25-17 on Sept. 3.

“(This team means) the world to me,” Taylor said. “We go out and we’re playing for each other. These girls never give up for anything, play after play, every point means the same.”

Field hockey team

enjoys title season

With a 3-0 victory over Hudson in the state championship game Nov. 7 at Thomas Worthington, the field hockey team finished 18-3 overall and earned the fourth title in program history, including the third under coach Janet Baird.

In 25 seasons under Baird, the Eagles have gone 337-80-25. Their other state titles came in 1995 under former coach Katie Brosmer and in 2005 and 2009 under Baird.

Watterson was the district’s third seed and had lost five consecutive district finals before beating second-seeded Thomas 2-1 on Oct. 31 after losing twice to the Cardinals in the regular season. The Eagles then defeated two-time defending state champion Columbus Academy 1-0 in two overtimes Nov. 5 in a state semifinal.

“We went from maybe not having a season to being state champs,” Baird said. “Who would have known with the pandemic? It’s been an amazing journey.”

Watterson loses a seven-member senior class that was led by attackers Alex Picolo (26 goals, 7 assists), Cailin O’Reilly (12 goals, 2 assists), Lauren Neutzling and Anne Marie Ruess and goalie Caroline Dunham (46 saves).

Junior midfielder Molly Griffith and Picolo were first-team all-league as the Eagles went 8-0 to win the COFHL-East Division. Both also were all-state.

Griffith finished with eight goals and 19 assists.

Juniors Grace Cantwell (attacker), Zoe Coleman (attacker), Camille Gregory (midfielder), Claire Sugar (midfielder) and Makenna Twombly (attacker) and sophomores Ava Gruver (midfielder) and Ellie Pardi (defender) should be among the top returnees. Cantwell had 12 goals and 14 assists and also was first-team all-league.

Others eligible to return include juniors Fiona Isbell (midfielder), Kenna Ryan (defender) and Natalie Wallace (defender) and sophomores Lily Goodfellow (attacker), Rachel Gora (attacker), Avelinn O’Reilly (attacker) and Sophia Schulteis (attacker).

Most of girls soccer

squad to return

After losing in a Division I district final last season, the girls soccer team won its second district title in three seasons and was a regional runner-up.

The Eagles were seeded second for the district tournament and beat sixth-seeded Olentangy Liberty 3-1 on Oct. 31 in a district final before edging Pickerington North 1-0 (5-4 shootout) in a regional semifinal Nov. 3.

On Nov. 7, Watterson lost to Olentangy 1-0 in a regional final to finish 17-3-1 overall.

Erin Connors (forward), Grace Jenkins (midfielder) and Annie McGraw (goalie) led the senior class.

“Annie’s had a great career,” coach Scott Dempsey said. “By the time we got to the end of her freshman year, she was starting in goal at the tournament and she’s continued to blossom and develop into a top-notch goalkeeper.”

Jenkins, McGraw, junior Gabriella Rotolo (midfielder/forward) and sophomore Rachel Spencer (forward) were first-team all-league as Watterson went 3-0 to win the CCL title.

Junior Maddy Bellisari (defender) and sophomore Gabby Capozello (defender) were second-team all-league.

Others eligible to return include juniors Bo Brafford (forward), Ellie Copeland (midfielder), Julia Flanagan (defender/midfielder), Lexie Francis (midfielder/forward), Ryan McGinn (forward), Jordan Morales (midfielder), Brooklyn Scythes (midfielder) and Katie Youell (defender), sophomores Katie Bettendorf (defender), Erin Karas (midfielder), Greer Martin (defender) and Sydney Workman (midfielder) and freshman Ruby West (defender). Junior Evie Owens was the backup goalie.

“This was a special team,” Dempsey said. “We felt special about this team from the very beginning. It was a unique year, so these girls have literally been together for five months and we felt we were as well-prepared as we possibly could be.”

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek

FIELD HOCKEY

Record: 18-3 overall

COFHL-East standings: Watterson (8-0), Columbus Academy (7-1), New Albany (6-2), Worthington Kilbourne (5-3), Granville (3-4-1), Lancaster (3-5), Hartley (1-6-1), Bexley (1-7), Columbus School for Girls (0-6-2)

Seniors lost: Caroline Dunham, Lauren Neutzling, Cailin O’Reilly, Alex Picolo, Maddie Phillips, Anne Marie Ruess and Audrey Schroeder

Key returnees: Grace Cantwell, Zoe Coleman, Camille Gregory, Molly Griffith, Claire Sugar and Makenna Twombly

Postseason: Defeated Hartley 8-0; def. Dublin Jerome 7-1; def. Thomas Worthington 2-1; def. Academy 1-0 (2OT); def. Hudson 3-0 in state final

GIRLS SOCCER

Record: 17-3-1 overall

CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Hartley (1-2), Ready (0-3)

Seniors lost: Erin Connors, Olivia Frisone, Grace Jenkins and Annie McGraw

Key returnees: Maddy Bellisari, Gabby Capozello, Julia Flanagan, Lexie Francis, Gabriella Rotolo, Brooklyn Scythes, Rachel Spencer and Katie Youell

Postseason: Def. Chillicothe 6-0; def. Dublin Jerome 2-1 (4-3 shootout); def. Olentangy Liberty 3-1; def. Pickerington North 1-0 (5-4 shootout); lost to Olentangy 1-0 in Division I regional final