Hartley Roundup: New formation sparks turnaround for boys soccer team

Jarrod Ulrey
ThisWeek group
After losing nine of their first 10 games, Colin Callahan (left) and the Hartley boys soccer team were 4-0-1 in their next five before playing Granville on Oct. 31 in a Division II district final.

A rough first half to its season didn’t become the undoing of the Hartley boys soccer team this fall. 

The Hawks were forced to delay the start of their season until Sept. 8 after they were  shut down for two weeks because of COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic issues. Once the season began, they then lost nine of their first 10 games. 

But a midseason change – in which they shifted from a 4-3-3 set-up to a 4-4-2 diamond formation – helped spark a turnaround that lifted Hartley to a 2-all tie with Gahanna on Oct. 10 and wins over Johnstown (4-0 on Oct. 12) and Wellington (3-1 on Oct. 15) to close the regular season. 

That finish continued into the postseason as the Hawks reached a Division II district final Oct. 31.

“We hit some adversity in the whole first half of the season, but we made kind of a switch and that light just came on,” said junior Tony Epstein, who moved from wing to midfielder in the new formation. “Ever since then we’ve just kept going. Nothing really changed with the strikers, but we kind of switched up the midfielders. It gives (forwards) Ryan (Hawk) and Colin (Callahan) a lot more time on the ball up top, and we kind of play through to them up top. It gives the midfield an extra guy with the four in the midfield. Most teams play with three midfielders.” 

Ninth-seeded Hartley opened with a 3-0 win Oct. 22 at fifth-seeded Bexley, which was forced to use its junior varsity team because of COVID-19 issues. 

The Hawks then beat fourth-seeded Johnstown 5-1 on Oct. 27 to improve to 5-9-1 to advance to a district final Oct. 31 at top-seeded Granville, with the winner to play Lexington or Ontario on Nov. 4 in a regional semifinal. The regional final is 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7. 

“We definitely made some tactical changes and as soon as we did that, the light switched and we (went) on a winning streak,” Hawk said. “We have some great talent (in the senior class) with (midfielder) Declan (O’Brien), and (center midfielder) Nahom (Chegen) has been a great addition after he came in as a sophomore and has absolutely lit up the field.” 

Callahan scored two goals and junior defender Isaiah Gesesse had the other in the win over Bexley. 

Coach Justin Alexander, who is in his first season, has been pleased with how his team has navigated through a season that also included getting back senior defender Riley Sheehan for the Bexley game after he’d been out for two weeks. 

In addition, senior forward Ako Nwokolo was slowed by a quadriceps injury during the regular season. 

Runners advance 

to regional level 

The cross country program was represented at the Division II regional Oct. 31 at Pickerington North by its girls team and by senior Luke Vautour of the boys team. 

The top seven teams and top 28 individuals in both regional meets advanced to the state meet Saturday, Nov. 7, at Fortress Obetz. 

In the nine-team district section 1 girls race Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby, Hartley finished third (105) behind Granville (29) and Fredericktown (95) as the top three teams advanced. 

Freshman Piper Minnich was 12th (20 minutes, 25.9 seconds), followed by seniors Ellie Kitsmiller (17th, 21:21.5) and Megan Luallen (18th, 21:24), sophomore Jackie Radous (27th, 21:53), senior Pailyn Groene (31st, 22:38.7), freshman Natalie Dinovo (39th, 23:07.4) and sophomore Eva Tedrick (44th, 23:29.6). 

In the 13-team boys district section 2 race, the Hawks placed eighth (209) behind champion Watterson (64) as the top four teams and 16 individuals advanced to regional. 

Vautour finished fifth (17:07.4) to earn an individual regional berth. 

Also competing were senior Eayuel Gebrtsadik (27th, 18:14.5), junior Brighton Chen (48th, 18:48.1), freshmen Nathan Ogden (64th, 19:49.5) and Andrew Bassetti (65th, 19:53.1) and juniors Simon Sybert (75th, 20:44.5), Luke Eschmeyer (83rd, 21:36.4). 

Hartley’s Sophia Kanoswky (right) is expected to be one of the top returnees for the field hockey team, which finished 2-13-2 overall and 1-6-1 in the COFHL-East Division.

Most of field hockey 

team to return 

The 16th-seeded field hockey team ended the season with an 8-0 loss Oct. 21 at third-seeded Watterson. 

The Hawks, who closed the regular season by tying Olentangy Berlin at 1 on Oct. 5, went 2-13-2 overall and finished seventh at 1-6-1 in the COFHL-East Division behind champion Watterson (8-0). 

“Our spacing and understanding of game play really improved,” coach Bridget Ebenhack said. “Our defense improved tremendously as the season went on.” 

The only seniors were Caitlin Abel (forward), Annie Hofherr (forward) and Grace Wolfinger (defender). 

According to Ebenhack, junior Sophia Kanowsky (midfielder), sophomores Marie Burkhart (forward), Jenna Ryan (midfielder) and Jamie Zang (midfielder) and freshman Brooke Burchfield (goalie) should be among the top returnees. 

Others eligible to return include juniors Alex Elmelegy (forward), Taryn Jones (defender), Rylan King (defender), Caroline Moran (defender) and Katie Wilson (midfielder), sophomores Betale Getahun (defender) and Grace Goodwin (midfielder) and freshmen Rachel Fadel (forward) and Maggie Taylor (midfielder). 

“Marie and Sophia offer competitiveness and a no-quit attitude,” Ebenhack said. “Jenna is a consistent player with strong stick skills and presence on the field. Brooke is a vocal leader, positive and upbeat. She encourages her teammates and is tough in the cage. 

“We only lose three seniors. There are eight other players that rotated through starting roles that will come back. Jamie Zang improved throughout the season and brings a great intensity.” 

julrey@thisweeknews.com 

@UlreyThisWeek 

FIELD HOCKEY 

•Record: 2-13-2 overall 

•COFHL-East standings: Watterson (8-0), Columbus Academy (7-1), New Albany (6-2), Worthington Kilbourne (5-3), Granville (3-4-1), Lancaster (3-5), Hartley (1-6-1), Bexley (1-7), Columbus School for Girls (0-6-2) 

•Seniors lost: Caitlin Abel, Annie Hofherr and Gracie Wolfinger 

•Key returnees: Brooke Burchfield, Marie Burkhart, Sophia Kanowsky, Jenna Ryan and Jamie Zang 

•Postseason: Lost to Watterson 8-0 in second round of district tournament