Hartley Roundup: Girls soccer squad enjoys breakthrough
After a Division II district runner-up finish in 2016, the Hartley girls soccer team endured three consecutive losing seasons and had two coaching changes.
Further complicating matters this season was the Hawks had three of their regular-season games canceled because of issues involving the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
None of that, though, stopped them from having a program breakthrough.
With a 2-1 overtime win Oct. 31 at third-seeded Bexley, fifth-seeded Hartley captured its first district championship.
The Hawks lost to Dayton Oakwood 2-0 on Nov. 3 in a regional semifinal to finish 8-5-2.
“Since the beginning of the season because of COVID it’s been a little rocky,” junior midfielder Olivia Ralston said. “We hadn’t played soccer forever so our first game was a little rocky, but we started to jell more together and we started pulling it together after (losing 4-0 to Granville on Sept. 8).”
Hartley beat eventual Division III district runner-up Grandview 3-1 on Sept. 22 and then defeated DeSales 2-0 on Sept. 24 for its first victory in program history over the CCL foe. From 2007-19, the Hawks had gone 0-11-2 against the Stallions.
“You’ve got to say that you did expect this because you’ve got to aim for glory, but we started off a little rough and picked it up after our first few games,” senior defensive midfielder Emma Bergman said. “We did make a formation change in the middle of the season that bumped up our offensive attack and gave us more room to be creative and find success on the other end of the field.
“Another reason is that we found more chemistry within our team. This is the first time we’ve ever beaten DeSales and we haven’t been to the district finals in a while.”
The Hawks lose a six-member senior class that also included goalie Emily Sanzone and midfielders Emily Casto and Maddy Smith under first-year coach Jenn Moore, a 2010 Hartley graduate who had served as an assistant the past four seasons.
In addition to Ralston, the Hawks expect to return junior defenders Karli Barringer, Emily Knox and Ellie Morrow, junior forwards Sydney Collins and Mackenzie Dewitt and sophomore defender Morgan Donnelly from their starting lineup.
Others eligible to return include junior Josie Zang (midfielder), sophomores Abby Dinardo (midfielder), Sydney Eads (defender), Megan Sheehan (midfielder) and Cece Woods (defender) and freshmen Anna Casto (midfielder), Kendall Ramsey (midfielder) and Ashley Velasquez (forward/midfielder).
According to Ralston, the tips her team received in strength and conditioning from assistant coach Austin Strapp also were vital in the team’s improvement.
“The games in the tournament have definitely shown every aspect of our team,” Moore said. “We have a tremendous amount of leadership from our freshman class on up. We sat down at the beginning of the season and decided what our goals were and I think each and every one of them have realized we’re not going to stop or let anyone take that away from us without a dogfight, that’s for sure.”
Boys soccer team
makes district final
With a 3-2 overtime loss to top-seeded Granville in a Division II district final Oct. 31, the ninth-seeded boys soccer team finished 5-10-1.
The Hawks had a new coach in Justin Alexander, a 2012 Hartley graduate who helped the program reach a district final for the first time since making back-to-back appearances in 2015 and 2016.
“We don’t have a lot of vocal leaders on this team, but we’ve got a lot of guys that bust their butts,” Alexander said.
The Hawks lose a five-member senior class that featured midfielder Nahom Chegen, who scored both goals in the tournament loss, forwards Ryan Hawk and Ako Nwokolo, midfielder Declan O’Brien and defender Riley Sheehan.
Junior wing Tony Epstein, junior goalie Emmett Gillies and sophomore wing Colin Callahan should be among the top returnees.
Others eligible to return include juniors Gabe Clark (defender), Gabe Donaghy (midfielder), Alex Gabriel (defender), Isaiah Gesesse (defender), Jacob Leatherman (defender), Nick McCloud (goalie), Kieran McJoynt-Griffith (wing), Jacob Scurlock (defender) and Tyler Woods (wing) and sophomore Luke Navarro (defender).
“Epstein works hard,” Alexander said. “He’s got a lot of room to grow as a player, which I think makes me most excited about him. He’s definitely not the finished product, so I’m excited about what he can become as a player.”
Runners end season
at regional meet
The boys and girls cross country teams had their seasons end in the Division II regional Oct. 31 at Pickerington North.
Senior Luke Vautour missed advancing to regional by two spots last season but qualified this fall with a fifth-place finish (17 minutes, 7.4 seconds) in the district 2 meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby.
He then placed 45th (17:39) at regional.
“(This season) just means a lot, especially getting fifth in the district,” Vautour said. “I felt like a real runner and that I was going somewhere. I ran a ton during the winter every day in the rain and sleet and had really good training during the summer.”
Junior Rebecca Tepper was the girls team’s top runner for much of the season but missed the CCL and district 1 meets with a foot injury.
Despite her absence, Hartley finished third (105) at district to qualify for regional. She returned for the regional and was the Hawks’ No. 2 runner, finishing 90th (22:26.8).
Also competing at regional were freshman Piper Minnich (50th, 21:16.4), seniors Megan Luallen (91st, 22:31.6) and Ellie Kitsmiller (93rd, 22:33.6), sophomore Jackie Radous (110th, 22:57.3), senior Pailyn Groene (115th, 23:03.6) and freshman Natalie Dinovo (140th, 24:30).
Sophomore Eva Tedrick also was a contributor for the girls team.
“They made it (to regional) in spite of losing our No. 1 runner,” coach Jim McKay said. “Piper has stepped up and run very well as a freshman. Ellie Kitsmiller and Megan Luallen ran phenomenally (at district) and Jackie Radous, our No. 5, (performed) extremely well as well.”
In addition to Vautour, Hartley loses Eayuel Gebrtsadik from the boys team to graduation after he was the No. 2 runner, placing 27th (18:14.5), at district 2.
Other boys contributors eligible to return include juniors Brighton Chen, Luke Eschmeyer and Simon Sybert and freshmen Andrew Bassetti and Nathan Ogden.
•CCL standings: Boys — DeSales (44), Watterson (45), St. Charles (56), Hartley (94), Ready (140); Girls — DeSales (33), Watterson (34), Hartley (59), Ready (113)
•Seniors lost: Boys — Zach Adams, Eayuel Gebrtsadik and Luke Vautour; Girls — Pailyn Groene, Ellie Kitsmiller, Megan Luallen and Anna Woods
•Key returnees: Boys — Andrew Bassetti, Brighton Chen, Luke Eschmeyer, Nathan Ogden and Simon Sybert; Girls — Natalie Dinovo, Piper Minnich, Jackie Radous, Rebecca Tepper
•Postseason: Boys — Eighth (209) at district behind champion Watterson (64); Girls —Third (105) at district behind champion Granville (29); 13th (341) at regional behind champion Granville (60)
•Record: 5-10-1 overall
•CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), DeSales (3-1), Watterson (2-2), Hartley (1-3), Ready (0-4)
•Seniors lost: Nahom Chegen, Ryan Hawk, Ako Nwokolo, Declan O’Brien and Riley Sheehan
•Key returnees: Colin Callahan, Tony Epstein, Alex Gabriel, Emmett Gillies, Kieran McJoynt-Griffith and Luke Navarro
•Postseason: Defeated Bexley 3-0; def. Johnstown 5-1; lost to Granville 3-2 (OT) in Division II district final
•Record: 8-5-2 overall
•CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), DeSales (2-1), Hartley (1-2), Ready (0-3)
•Seniors lost: Emma Bergman, Emily Casto, Julia Reinker, Emily Sanzone, Caitlin Smith and Maddy Smith
•Key returnees: Karli Barringer, Sydney Collins, Mackenzie Dewitt, Morgan Donnelly, Emily Knox, Ellie Morrow and Olivia Ralston
•Postseason: Def. Whitehall 9-0; def. Bloom-Carroll 1-0; def. Bexley 2-1 (OT); lost to Dayton Oakwood 2-0 in Division II regional semifinal