Grandview Heights Roundup: Bobcats boys soccer team extends district title streak to seven

Scott Hennen
ThisWeek group
Grandview's Will DeVere (center) celebrates with Adam Bechtel (right) and Jack Mollette, after scoring a goal Nov. 4 in a 4-1 victory over Berlin Hiland in a Division III regional semifinal.

Soccer has become an integral part of the Grandview Heights community, and those early fires of passion are apparent at the high school level in the boys soccer program. 

The second-seeded Bobcats went on the road to defeat top-seeded Worthington Christian in a Division III district final Oct 31, winning their seventh consecutive district championship. 

After the teams played to a scoreless tie through regulation and two 15-minute overtime periods, Grandview prevailed 1-0 with a 4-2 edge in penalty kicks. 

The Bobcats have nine district championships overall (2000, 2011 and 2014-20) but fell short of their fourth regional title when they lost to host Wheelersburg 2-1 on Nov. 7 in a regional final.

Grandview won regional championships in 2014, 2017 and 2018 and were state runners-up in 2014. 

“From a very young age, soccer is such a big part of this community,” said fifth-year coach James Gerdes, whose team was 13-3-1 after beating Berlin Hiland 4-1 in a regional semifinal Nov. 4. “From down in middle school and younger, they’re bred to live and breathe soccer and make it a part of their lives. 

“Pre-(COVID-19 coronavirus) pandemic, parents would bring their children to the game and we would integrate small kids into the game and make it appealing for younger generations before they get to high school. We also normally do a youth camp in the summer to generate and inspire the younger kids to keep playing soccer.” 

In the district final, senior midfielder Adam Bechtel, junior midfielders Connor Hayes and Jack Mollette and sophomore midfielder Leo Marcellana all scored in the shootout.  

Junior goalie Owen Carter had nine saves as the Bobcats avenged a 2-1 regular-season loss to Worthington Christian on Sept. 5. 

“It was my first shootout ever, so I was a little nervous,” Carter said. “I just told myself to play the way I need to play. That stuck in my mind. 

“We’ve been putting in so much work. If we would have lost, it would have wasted all of our efforts.” 

Senior forward Henry Murphy was able to breathe a sigh of relief after extending the string of district titles. 

“It was nice to get it because the pressure was on,” he said. “It’s nice to get it off our shoulders and pass it to the next class. 

“We just have a deep squad. It’s different than it was a few years ago when we had (2019 graduate) Manny Day. He was a phenomenal player but we have the depth we didn’t have then. We go in and out every 10 minutes and have fresh players in there, which really helps a lot.” 

Senior center back Johnnie Herlihy pointed to Gerdes’ emphasis on each player doing their part as a key component to the success. 

“Coach stresses concentration,” Herlihy said. “We need to focus on the simple things and not make little mistakes. You have to keep on the game and not worry about anything else other than playing your role.” 

The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Nov. 11 against Botkins or Cincinnati Mariemont, which was first in the final state poll. The Bobcats were ranked seventh. 

The state final is Saturday, Nov. 14, at Mapfre Stadium. 

Sophomore forward Will DeVere led the team in scoring with 15 goals and two assists before the regional final. He scored along with Bechtel, Mollette and senior forward Kai Iisaka in the regional semifinal victory at Berlin Hiland. 

“In a small school and a small community, we all know each other really well,” DeVere said. “We do a lot of team bonding activities and have a lot of fun together. 

“I think we work hard and play as a team. We all know each other really well. We have good chemistry.” 

Grandview's Zoey Miller (front) will lead the group of returnees for the girls soccer team. The junior was first-team all-district and all-league after recording 13 goals and four assists for the Bobcats, who finished 13-3-3.

Pierce makes her mark for girls soccer team 

Senior forward Tayler Pierce became the top career scorer for the girls soccer program to highlight a season in which the Bobcats finished 13-3-3 overall and tied Worthington Christian for second (5-1-2) in the MSL-Ohio Division behind Bexley (6-1-1). 

Pierce (first-team all-district and all-league) scored 20 goals with seven assists to finish her career with 167 points, eclipsing the 162 for 2016 graduate Haley Rees. 

The top-seeded Bobcats lost to Columbus Academy 1-0 on Oct. 31 in a district final, but second-year coach Bre Dominach said she had a senior group that will have an impact on future teams. 

Joining Pierce in the class were defenders Lindsey Bertani (3 goals, 3 assists) and Carlie Orr (1 goal, 5 assists), goalie Layla Slaughter (44 saves, 6 shutouts) and forward Tia Thomas (3 goals, 5 assists).  

Bertani, Orr and Thomas were second-team all-league. 

“This senior class has made such an impact on the program since they first stepped onto the turf freshman year for open fields,” Dominach said. “They put in the work in the offseason and made sure the underclassmen were involved in everything that they were doing, like lifting, running and open gyms. They helped create an environment that was fun but also one of high expectations.” 

Junior forward Zoey Miller (first-team all-district and all-league) is the top offensive player expected to return after totaling 13 goals and four assists. A pair of midfielders – junior Sasha Pomerants and sophomore Maggie Herlihy – both were honorable mention all-league as well as having three goals and two assists apiece. 

Sophomore midfielder Lucia Mastroianni (8 goals, 3 assists), freshman midfielders Ellie Smith (7 goals, 5 assists) and Natalie Smith (5 goals, 5 assists) are expected back along with junior defender Abbie Baxter and junior midfielder Maya Burchfield. 

Freshman goalie Vivian Chute (11 saves, 6 shutouts) took over late in the season after Slaughter was injured. 

shennen@thisweeknews.com 

@ThisWeekHennen

GIRLS SOCCER 

•Record: 13-3-3 overall 

•MSL-Ohio standings: Bexley (6-1-1), Worthington Christian and Grandview (both 5-1-2), Columbus Academy (4-3-1), Columbus School for Girls and Wellington (both 3-2-3), Buckeye Valley (2-4-2), Zanesville Rosecrans (1-7), Whitehall (0-8) 

•Seniors lost: Lindsey Bertani, Carlie Orr, Tayler Pierce, Layla Slaughter and Tia Thomas 

•Key returnees: Abbie Baxter, Maya Burchfield, Vivian Chute, Maggie Herlihy, Lucia Mastroianni, Zoey Miller, Sasha Pomerants, Ellie Smith and Natalie Smith 

•Postseason: Defeated Amanda-Clearcreek 7-0; def. Fairbanks 2-0; lost to Academy 1-0 in Division III district final