DeSales Roundup: Boys seek gains from early losses
As the DeSales boys soccer team cooled down after a 1-0 season-opening home loss to Worthington Kilbourne on Aug. 25, coach Domenic Romanelli watched from the sidelines and pondered how the season would play out.
A handful of Stallions missed the game because of injuries or other factors, including three expected starters in seniors Alex Hatcher (defender) and Oscar Marquez-Trejo (forward/midfielder) and junior Ethan Lusenhop (midfielder).
Three underclassmen started and a fourth saw playing time, something Romanelli expects will pay off down the road as DeSales hopes to make another deep postseason run in Division II after spending last year in Division I.
"I think we'll be OK. I don't think we're going to walk through (Division II) for sure, but we need to stay healthy. We have to find the right combinations," said Romanelli, who is in his 14th season. "We all want to win. Sometimes we may not be patient, but we'll be OK."
DeSales, which finished 14-4-1 last season, fell to 0-2 with a 3-1 loss at Granville on Sept. 1.
Romanelli called junior midfielder Andrew Shaffer "the guy we'll go to" offensively in the wake of losing 35 goals to graduation between Jack Francisco (19 goals, 8 assists in 2019) and Will Shaffer (16 goals, 12 assists). Francisco now is at Capital and Shaffer signed with Wright State.
Andrew Shaffer's nine goals and 11 assists last year were best among all returning players.
The Stallions had won five consecutive district championships, all in Division II, before losing to Dublin Jerome 3-2 (4-2 shootout) in a district semifinal last fall.
"Andrew can't do it all, though," Romanelli said. "We'll figure out who else will be an offensive threat as we go. We'll need guys to step up."
Senior goalie Gabe Weikert also is back, leading a group of returnees that includes seniors Vigo Bertolo (defender) and Nick Kennedy (midfielder), juniors Alex Shaffer (midfielder) and Andy Shoemaker (defender) and sophomore Zack Rennie (midfielder).
Marquez-Trejo is recovering from a torn ACL and might return this season, according to Romanelli.
Rounding out the roster are seniors J.J. Baughman (goalie), Gibran Cuevas (defender) and Kaeden Fox (defender), juniors Marcus Berger (midfielder), Ryan Gustafson (defender), Alejandro Martinez (defender) and Jack Stonis (forward), sophomores Ryan DeStefanis (midfielder) and Yair Perez-Gonzalez (forward) and freshman Luca Romanelli (defender).
Romanelli is the coach's nephew.
DeSales began CCL play Sept. 8 at Hartley.
Other highlights of the schedule include a Sept. 17 visit to last year's Division I state runner-up, Olentangy Liberty, and a Sept. 22 game at St. Charles, which is going for its fourth CCL championship in five years.
"You learn from these games. (Close losses) are hard to take, but I am proud of them," coach Romanelli said after the loss to Kilbourne. "We're excited to be back down where we belong. We have a heavy Division I-oriented schedule and I hope that doesn't come back to haunt us, but I have to be careful. You don't want to get beat up every night and have that take a toll."
Girls team working for resurgence
One of first-year girls soccer coach Chris Froehlich's top priorities -- in addition to maintaining his team's status as a CCL power -- is making the Stallions one of the top teams in the area and beyond.
DeSales, which was 1-2 before playing Delaware on Sept. 3, is seeking its first winning season since 2016. The Stallions have not won more than five games in a year since then and went 4-12-2 overall last year but 2-1 in the CCL.
Seniors Stefanie Karras (forward), Gabby Mahaffey (defender) and Gracey Wilson (defender) and juniors Abby Groff (goalie), Kylie Hast (midfielder) and Sophia Hipolite (midfielder) are among the key returnees. Karras tied 2020 graduate Lily Jones for the team lead in goals last year with three.
Hippolite and Mahaffey had two each.
"Expectations are high especially with this group and the amount of starters we have returning," Froehlich said. "Our defense has come up huge for us, especially at times in the opener versus (Dublin) Coffman (a 3-1 loss on Aug. 21). Our defense will continue to be our focus as one of top strengths as well as getting the midfield up to speed and our forwards. Overall, though, our defense will be our biggest strength."
Froehlich, a 2011 graduate of DeSales, succeeds Bob McGee, who coached the Stallions on an interim basis last year. Froehlich, who was part of the boys soccer team's 2009 Division II state championship, spent the past three years as New Albany's girls junior varsity coach and a varsity assistant.
DeSales defeated host Lancaster 2-0 on Aug. 25 and fell 3-1 at Marysville on Aug. 27.
Rounding out the roster are seniors Carmella Cua (goalie), Mattea Romanelli (forward) and Haley Weis (defender), juniors Katie Farina (forward), Isabella Gagliardi (defender), Emma James (defender), Phoebe Kraus (defender), Maddie McNamara (defender), Abbie Phelps (midfielder) and Josie Zyskowski (goalie) and sophomores Ava Kreuzer (midfielder), Bryn Klingbeil (defender), Jennifer Mitevski (forward) and Atenas Ramirez (midfielder).
The Stallions begin CCL play Sept. 17 at home against defending league champion Watterson.
At a glance
*Coach: Domenic Romanelli, 14th season
*Top players: Vigo Bertolo, Alex Hatcher, Andrew Shaffer and Gabe Weikert
*Key losses: Jack Francisco and Will Shaffer
*Last season: 14-4-1 overall
*2019 CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), DeSales (3-1), Hartley and Watterson (both 1-2-1), Ready (0-4)
*2019 postseason: Defeated Columbus South 9-1; def. Licking Heights 4-0; lost to Dublin Jerome 3-2 (4-2 shootout) in Division I district semifinal
*Coach: Chris Froehlich, first season
*Top players: Abby Groff, Kylie Hast, Stefanie Karras and Gabby Mahaffey
*Key losses: Morgan Gehrlich and Lily Jones
*Last season: 4-12-2 overall
*2019 CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Hartley (1-2), Ready (0-3)
*2019 postseason: Def. Hartley 1-0; lost to Olentangy 7-0 in second round of Division I district tournament