Westland Roundup: Boys soccer team aiming for steady growth

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Junior defender Pablo Rebollar and the Westland boys soccer team are "just trying to be the best that we can be by the end of the year," fifth-year coach Jamie Dato said. The Cougars open OCC-Ohio Division play Tuesday, Sept. 15, against visiting Gahanna.

Westland boys soccer coach Jamie Dato hopes to see steady progression from his team throughout the season.

The Cougars are looking to improve on last year's finish of 5-10-2 overall and 1-4 in the OCC-Central Division. They are now in the OCC-Ohio.

"We're just trying to be the best that we can be by the end of the year," said Dato, who is in his fifth season. "We're going to have games we win, we're going to have games we lose, but (it's OK) as long as we're getting better."

Senior midfielder Khalil Suleiman was honorable mention all-league last season, and senior midfielder Gerardo Guzman also returns.

"It's been really fun playing for coach Dato," Guzman said. "He's trying to change the program to where we're able to contain the ball, pass to each other and show more wins."

Other returnees are seniors Jayden Bruna (defender), Ulises Martinez (midfielder), Ethan Masanja (midfielder) and Flavio Santiago (forward) and juniors Jeremy Canchola (midfielder), Noah Fryman (midfielder), Bryan Garcia (defender) and Pablo Rebollar (defender).

Other players are seniors Abdalla Abdalla (defender), Anwar Abubaker (defender), Abdalle Ali (midfielder), Omar Campa (goalie), Van Ceu (defender) and Heber Hernandez (midfielder), juniors Eric Allison (defender), Daniel De la Fuente (defender) and Jamesen Zau (midfielder) and sophomores Jose Aguirre (midfielder) and Allen Andrade (forward).

Westland opens OCC-Ohio play Tuesday, Sept. 15, against visiting Gahanna. The other teams in the realigned league are Grove City, New Albany, Pickerington North and Westerville Central.

"It's a very tough division," Dato said. "The thing I don't like about it is all the teams we're playing are on the east side of town. I'm not sure how we got bumped into that division. ... We were in a pretty good league last year, too. It's still good competition. It's nice to play some new teams, but it doesn't make sense geographically."

The Cougars opened the season by splitting a pair of games. They rebounded from a 2-0 loss to Lancaster on Aug. 25 to defeat Franklin Heights 3-0 on Aug. 27 as Aguirre, Fryman and Andrade scored and Campa had two saves.

"(Campa) is improving," Dato said. "He's not used to the size and speed of varsity play and the shots. It's going to be a learning experience for him."

Girls soccer coach feeling optimistic

Second-year girls soccer coach Nick Courtright is confident his team can improve on last season's record of 3-13 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Central.

The Cougars won two of their first three games, defeating Marion Harding 5-3 on Aug. 25 and Franklin Heights 8-1 on Aug. 27 before losing to Zanesville West Muskingum 2-0 on Aug. 29.

Westland opens OCC-Ohio play Tuesday, Sept. 15, at Gahanna.

"Our girls are playing really well," Courtright said. "We obviously lost a good chunk of time with the (COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic) restrictions and not being able to practice. Some of the kids battled through."

Sophomore returnee Mya Moxley, a forward/midfielder, scored five goals against Franklin Heights.

The other top returnees are junior forward Bella Garner (first-team all-league), sophomore midfielder Reagan Schumacher (second-team all-league), sophomore goalie Cynthia Stevens (special mention all-league) and junior midfielder/forward Jennifer Rodas (honorable mention all-league).

Also back are seniors Ingrid Jimenez (forward/defender), Andrea Lopez Garcia (defender), Heaven Manbevers (midfielder/forward) and Iris Ventura Pablo (defender), juniors Alex Carlton (midfielder/defender), Catalina Gesling (defender) and Madeline McGaffee (forward/midfielder) and sophomore Hannah Bruno (forward/midfielder).

Other players are junior Yaritza Plascencia Garcia (midfielder), sophomores Salma Pacheco Cortez (midfielder) and Milsy Ramirez (defender/midfielder) and freshmen Kailey Demboski (midfielder/defender), Lydia Jordan (midfielder/forward), Janet Ramirez Jeronimo (defender/midfielder), Jacqueline Sandoval Marcial (defender) and Brisha Trujillo (midfielder).

"Our group is a tight-knit group of girls and they really get along," Courtright said. "They are a bunch of really good kids. Now it's getting to a point where incrementally they're getting bit by bit better at soccer and some of the results are starting to show up on the field."

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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At a glance

BOYS SOCCER

*Coach: Jamie Dato, fifth season

*Top players: Jeremy Canchola, Noah Fryman, Gerardo Guzman, Ulises Martinez and Khalil Suleiman

*Key losses: TeiTu Bawi, Trent Beach, Junior Garcia, Bawi Lian, Abraham Perez and Van Uk

*Last season: 5-10-2 overall

*2019 OCC-Central standings: Hilliard Davidson (5-0), Upper Arlington (4-1), Dublin Coffman (3-2), Marysville (2-3), Westland (1-4), Central Crossing (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Lost to Northland 4-1 in first round of Division I district tournament

GIRLS SOCCER

*Coach: Nick Courtright, second season

*Top players: Bella Garner, Heaven Manbevers, Jennifer Rodas and Iris Ventura Pablo

*Key losses: Laura Ornelas-Rodriguez and Allison Vasquez

*Last season: 3-13 overall

*2019 OCC-Central standings: Coffman (5-0), Davidson (4-1), Marysville (3-2), UA (2-3), Central Crossing (1-4), Westland (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Lost to Davidson 11-0 in first round of Division I district tournament