Boys Soccer: Hilliard Davidson hopes underclassmen learn from season
The Hilliard Davidson boys soccer team entered the season looking to repeat as OCC-Central Division champions.
Instead the Wildcats struggled, finishing 5-9-2 overall and sixth (0-4-1) in the new-look OCC-Central behind champion Olentangy Liberty (5-0).
“The season overall taught us a lot,” coach Dan Hoover said. “It was good to see some of the underclassmen get a lot of minutes. The seniors gave us as much as they could. Our record was reflective of our overall experience.
"A lot of these seniors didn’t start or play a lot of minutes last year. There’s a difference between experienced seniors and inexperienced seniors.”
Seeded 19th in the 41-team Division I district tournament, Davidson lost 7-0 at 11th-seeded Thomas Worthington in the second round Oct. 22. Both teams had first-round byes.
“It’s always tough having your first tournament game on the road,” Hoover said. “There’s a lot of parity out there. Unfortunately, we’re a very young team, and they got their first taste of tournament play. I felt bad for some of the seniors to go out like that, but we didn’t play our best game when we really needed to.”
Davidson played Bradley to a scoreless tie Sept. 22 for its lone point in the league, and the Wildcats also opened the season with a scoreless tie against Darby on Aug. 28.
Davidson followed that with wins against Licking Heights (2-1 on Aug. 31), Newark (5-0 on Sept. 1) and Central Crossing (4-2 on Sept. 8) to move to 3-0-1, but went 2-9-1 to close the season.
The Wildcats also beat Hartley 4-1 on Sept. 23 and Marysville 3-2 on Oct. 8.
“We’re not happy,” said midfielder Omar Shaaban, a two-year varsity player who was one of seven seniors. “We should have spent more time together off the field. We didn’t come together as a team as well as we should have.”
Shaaban, who called the victory over Hartley one of the highlights of the season, credited Hoover for his development.
“Coach Hoover has made me a completely new man,” he said. “He’s helped me become a much better man, see everything from a better point of view. I’ve had a lot of struggles and he’s been there for me as a man and more than just a coach. He’s guided me through the last four years of my life.”
Also leaving after four seasons as starting goalie is senior Lorenzo Nieves.
Players eligible to return are juniors Lucas Baker (defender), Ethan Dehority (defender), Sam Holden (midfielder), Carson Puhl (defender), Owen Smallwood (midfielder), Yusei Tsunematsu (midfielder), Owen Waby (defender) and Zander Yang (midfielder), sophomores Casey Sell (midfielder) and Colin Price (midfielder) and freshmen Will Baker (forward), Owen Blevins (defender), Aiden Finley (defender), Andrew Lewis (defender) and Youssef Shaaban (midfielder).
In a season held amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Hoover was pleased his team was able to compete.
“I credit our administration and our athletics director (Nate Bobek) for being on the ball as far as being a stickler on the COVID rules and regulations,” Hoover said. “I can’t say enough how lucky we are to have had a season and to have the support we have.”
DAVIDSON BOYS SOCCER
•OCC-Central standings: Olentangy Liberty (5-0), Dublin Coffman (4-1), Upper Arlington (2-2-1), Hilliard Bradley and Olentangy Orange (both 1-3-1), Davidson (0-4-1).
•Seniors lost: Henry Jimenez, Balial Katabay, Addison Manlove, Lorenzo Nieves, Ayoub Ouhammou, Marco Perez and Omar Shaaban
•Key returnees: Lucas Baker, Sam Holden, Carson Puhl, Owen Smallwood and Yusei Tsunematsu
•Postseason: Lost to Thomas Worthington 7-0 in second round of Division I district tournament