DeSales Roundup: Confident Stefanie Karras thriving for girls soccer team
One of Stefanie Karras’ objectives when she steps onto a soccer field is to show she isn’t afraid of anything.
For the DeSales senior forward, that’s simply part of her job description as a veteran leader and primary outlet for the offense.
“I feel like I have a pretty big impact on this team. They rely on me to score and when I go out there, I try to do my best to get us a win,” Karras said. “I’m really physical. I push to get to the ball. I am a good striker and I’m good at combining with other girls and feeding off them.”
Karras, a second-year varsity starter, had six goals and three assists through 12 games in a season somewhat hampered by injuries. DeSales was 4-7-1 overall before playing Westerville North on Oct. 8 and finished 1-2 in the CCL with a 2-0 win over Ready on Oct. 6.
That doubled Karras’ offensive production from last year, when she scored three times as the Stalions went 4-12-2 overall and 2-1 in the league, but this season also has included more stability.
The team’s 19 goals through 12 games also exceeded its total of 14 from all of last year.
Karras usually played forward as a junior but occasionally moved back to center back on defense, a new position, with classmate and longtime friend Gabby Mahaffey.
“I’d never played center back, so it was a bit of a struggle. Gabby and I tried to hold down the fort,” Karras said. “We might not have always done as well as we wanted, but I love being back up top. It’s been good ever since.”
Karras missed a handful of games earlier this season because of minor injuries in both knees.
“We saw the difference when she wasn’t there, that we were missing something. When she is there, we have that final piece,” coach Chris Froehlich said. “For her, (improvement) is just (about) little things, scoring with her back foot in front of the goal instead of her front foot and just finishing those easy goals that should be happening. She is getting them this year.”
Mahaffey, a four-year varsity player, said she and Karras have struck “a balance” over the years.
“She’s done a great job for us up top and I’ve taken control of the back line,” Mahaffey said. “We’ve been best friends for a while but when we started playing together, it just clicked. She did well in the back, but we missed her up top because she is a powerhouse.”
Karras has talked to several colleges about playing at the next level. In that respect, she hopes to follow in the footsteps of her older brother, Chris, a 2019 DeSales graduate who played football last year at Bowling Green before the team trimmed its roster because of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic-related financial issues.
“We’re very competitive,” Stefanie said, smiling, about her relationship with her brother, who now attends Ohio State. “I was just named to the homecoming court so I had to make sure he knew. I had to brag a little bit.”
team's focus to tourney
Five positive COVID-19 tests within the program forced the girls volleyball team into a two-week quarantine, according to coach Brenden Pence, who added that the shutdown likely means the defending Division I state champions have played their last regular-season match.
DeSales, which is 7-7 overall and 2-3 in the CCL, has not played since a 25-18, 25-22, 25-13 home win over Cincinnati Christian Hills on Sept. 30. According to Pence, several players reported not feeling well the next day and practice was canceled, as were the team’s next five matches.
“It’s definitely unfortunate. We followed protocols but things happen,” Pence said. “The big thing we’ve talked about with the girls is how we respond from this. It isn’t easy to get work in and stay sharp by yourself, but we have to make sure to get our minds right.”
The Stallions’ scheduled regular-season finale is Saturday, Oct. 17, at Middletown Fenwick, but Pence doubted last week that the match would be played. The Division I district tournament begins with first-round matches Monday, Oct. 19, and Tuesday, Oct. 20, and the second round is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 21, and Oct. 22.
The tournament draw was Oct. 11.
“We were making good strides (before the quarantine) with our team offense and our team blocking,” Pence said. “We’ve worked on diversifying our game and not just swinging away all the time.”
to district tourney
Amanda Pancake of the girls golf team competed in her third consecutive Division I district tournament Oct. 13 at New Albany Links, coming off a round of 84 at sectional Oct. 6 at Mentel Memorial.
Pancake, a senior, led the Stallions to a team score of 395 and seventh place behind champion Dublin Coffman (331) as 12 teams scored. Also scoring were Lizzy Gutman (95) and Sarah Stevens (102), and Melina McSweeny and Lucy Willis both shot a 114.
The top three teams and top three individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district.
The Stallions' final regular-season event was Oct. 10, when it participated in the CCL postseason tournament at NorthStar.
The boys team’s season came to an end Oct. 6 in a sectional at Darby Creek, in which it finished eighth (336) behind champion and CCL rival St. Charles (297) as 14 teams scored.
Sophomore Jake Pierce shot an 80, followed by junior Scott Armstrong (82) and freshmen Vaughn Harber (83) and Devin McInerney (91).
The top four teams and top four individuals not on qualifying teams advanced to district Oct. 13 at Apple Valley.
•CCL standings: St. Charles (7-0), Watterson (5-2), DeSales (3-4), Hartley (1-6), Ready (0-4)
•Senior lost: Jack Imlay
•Key returnees: Scott Armstrong, Luke Gabrielli, Vaughn Harber, Devin McInerney and Jake Pierce
•Postseason: Eighth (336) at sectional behind champion St. Charles (297)