DeSales Roundup: 'Team concept' benefits Andrew Shaffer, boys soccer squad

Dave Purpura
ThisWeek group
DeSales' Vigo Bertolo (left) and Watterson's Trent Maisano battle during the Stallions' 2-1 win Sept. 15. The teams met again Oct. 31 with a Division II district championship on the line.

At least in an offensive sense, the DeSales boys soccer team’s first two Division II district tournament games went much as the regular season had gone.

Junior midfielder Andrew Shaffer scored roughly half the team’s goals, accounting for four in a 7-0 second-round win over 16th-seeded Heath on Oct. 21 and three in a 6-0 victory over 11th-seeded Jonathan Alder six nights later.

It was the role coach Domenic Romanelli expected Shaffer to fill entering the season, but perhaps a less obvious aspect of the game plan coming to fruition pleased Romanelli even more.

“What I am more proud of is (against Jonathan Alder), the game plan was to go to (Shaffer) early and for him to make a difference but then if we got that lead, to help the team,” Romanelli said. “He could be this year’s Jack Francisco but this team needs a team concept. In a big-time game, he very well could get marked out. If there are three guys on him, there are two (teammates) open somewhere.

“Early on, he was bringing the ball in and dropping the ball in and ultimately that opened him up because he was (making) crossing (passes). That’s part of the game.”

Shaffer’s 19 goals and two assists through 18 games matched Francisco’s total output of last year, when the 2020 graduate who now plays at Capital made second-team all-state. Third-seeded DeSales was 9-8-1 before playing sixth-seeded Watterson in a district final Oct. 31.

“Usually in club, I play as a center midfielder so my job is to distribute and pass the ball,” said Shaffer, who lives in Galena. “Here, I’ve been out wide and up top and in a lot more one-on-one situations, so if I go at (an opposing defense) every time and try to dribble, it’s a little predictable. That’s something I’ve been working on, taking a different approach and looking for the early crosses, then going at them.”

DeSales was 6-1-1 in its previous eight games before the district final.

Vigo Bertolo, Yair Perez-Gonzalez and Aidan Shepardson also scored against the Pioneers, and the Stallions recorded their third consecutive shutout and fifth in eight games.

The district champion visited Dayton Carroll or Tipp City Tippecanoe for a regional semifinal Nov. 4. The winner will play Bellefontaine Benjamin Logan, Cincinnati Summit Country Day, Cincinnati Wyoming or Monroe in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 7, at a neutral site.

The regional champion will play in a state semifinal Wednesday, Nov. 11, at a neutral site.

Romanelli emphasized a day-to-day approach with his team, ignoring the number of losses that came early in the year against a challenging schedule.

“We knew we’d get beat up early on. I just didn’t think we’d get beat up as much as we did, so we talked about the mental aspect,” Romanelli said. “We kept preaching that the (number) of losses didn’t matter. When you start the tournament, everybody is 0-0-0 and you go from there.”

DeSales' Josie Dages competes in the Division I district cross country meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby. She finished 26th in district 1 in 20:25.8.

Boys runners, McAllister

compete at regional

Coming off its first district runner-up finish since 2006, the boys cross country team sought its first state berth as a team in 17 years when it competed in the Division II regional meet Oct. 31 at Pickerington North.

In the district 2 meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby, Aidan Shannon’s 10th-place finish (17 minutes, 29.4 seconds) led a tight pack as the Stallions scored 71 points and finished second behind Watterson (64) as 13 teams scored. Luke Aaron was 11th (17:29.7), followed by Adam Weithman (12th, 17:34.1), Owen Eckstein (15th, 17:36.6) and Nick Schetter (23rd, 18:08.5).

The top four teams and top 16 individuals advanced to regional.

In the girls Division I, district 1 race, freshman Mary McAllister earned an individual regional berth by finishing 19th in 20:25. The top five teams and top 20 individuals advanced.

The team fell short by finishing sixth (143) behind champion Hilliard Davidson (19) as 13 teams scored. Also scoring for the Stallions were Josie Dages (26th, 20:25.8) — who was DeSales’ only regional qualifier last year as a freshman — Gracey Wilson (28th, 20:55.3), Audrey Callahan (30th, 20:57.7) and Ellie Reash (40th, 21:56.8).

At regional, the top seven Division II teams and top 28 individuals advanced to state Saturday, Nov. 7, at Fortress Obetz. In Division I, the top 20 individuals qualified.

Girls volleyball team

shakes off quarantine

The girls volleyball team won six of a possible six games after two weeks off because of a COVID-19 quarantine and visited fourth-seeded Watkins Memorial for a Division I district final Oct. 31.

Sixth-seeded DeSales improved to 9-7 with a 25-20, 25-17, 25-17 win over visiting and 16th-seeded Pickerington North in a district semifinal Oct. 27. Saje Washington had 11 kills, Bridget Javitch had 10 assists and 24 digs and Ashleigh Zehala had 27 kills for the Stallions, who began the postseason with a 25-10, 25-8, 25-12 home win over 35th-seeded Marion Harding in a second-round match Oct. 21.

A scheduled first-round home match Oct. 19 against 40th-seeded Westland was a no-contest because the Cougars were forced into quarantine.

DeSales coach Brenden Pence said scrimmages against Centerville, Gahanna and Olentangy helped the team shed any rust.

“We’ve looked like we have a new sense of life, a sense of urgency coming in,” Pence said. “We got ourselves back into full playoff mode in those scrimmages. We’ve been serving well; we had 12 aces (against North) and our service pressure has been really good. The biggest thing for us is in chaotic situations, we tend to lose ourselves a little bit and I think we did a good job of staying calm in those situations and putting the pressure back on them.”

The DeSales-Watkins Memorial winner will play Big Walnut, Lancaster, Olentangy Orange or Westerville Central in a regional semifinal Thursday, Nov. 5, at Darby. That winner will play in the regional final Saturday, Nov. 7.

State semifinals are Nov. 13 at Vandalia Butler.

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave