Westland Roundup: Boys soccer squad looking for answers

FRANK DIRENNA
fdirenna@thisweeknews.com
Westland boys soccer coach Jamie Dato (left) and junior varsity coach Juan Martinez follow the action during a 6-0 loss to visiting Gahanna in the OCC-Ohio opener on Sept. 15. Dato is looking for improvement from his struggling team, which started 1-5-1. "I keep telling them I just want to get better every game," he said.

Westland boys soccer coach Jamie Dato was hoping his team would get out to a strong start and build momentum throughout the season.

Instead, with the Cougars struggling, he has been looking for a way to spark a turnaround.

"I keep telling them I just want to get better every game," Dato said. "I'd love to find something we could build off of. We always have some longer stretches where we look good. I'd like to find the best combination of players. I have 20 guys here and I'm trying to find the combination that's the strongest."

Westland was 1-5-1 overall and 0-1 in the OCC-Ohio Division after opening play in its new league with a 6-0 loss to visiting Gahanna on Sept. 15.

The Cougars trailed the Lions 4-0 at halftime.

"A lot of teams just seem faster than us," Dato said. "I don't know if that's just a physical thing or they're just in better position than we are, but it just seems like teams get to the ball before we do. That could just be wanting to get to the ball before we do. It might not even just be speed."

Dato expects similar challenges going forward in the OCC-Ohio, including when Westland visits league favorite Pickerington North on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The Panthers were 7-0-1 through eight games and ranked fourth in the Division I state poll released Sept. 14.

"Based on the teams in the division, top to bottom, it's probably a tougher division (than what we faced in the OCC-Central)," Dato said.

Westland defeated Franklin Heights 3-0 on Aug. 27 as Jose Aguirre, Allen Andrade and Noah Fryman scored.

The Cougars tied Newark at 1 on Sept. 8 as Ethan Masanja scored.

"I feel like we should have a couple more wins," senior midfielder Ulises Martinez said. "We want to win some games and get ready for the (Division I district tournament)."

Dato has been pleased with the improvement of senior goalie Omar Campo, who is in his first season playing the position. Campo made five saves against Gahanna.

"I told him you make the saves you're supposed to make and I'll be happy," Dato said. "He's doing that. He's making the saves he needs to make. I don't know if he's had any formal training. Positioning is always a big deal and that's something he's still learning."

Westland was outscored 20-5 through seven games.

The Cougars were competitive in losses to Lancaster (2-0 on Aug. 25), Reynoldsburg (3-0 on Sept. 1) and Westerville South (2-1 on Sept. 10).

"We just have to start the games a little stronger and stay in the game and don't let it get away," Martinez said.

Curtiss leading boys golf team

The boys golf team has been led by first-year player Drew Curtiss, a senior who shot a season-best 98 in the fourth and final round of the OCC-Ohio tournament Sept. 9 at Denison Golf Club.

He finished with a 105.25 league average.

"Drew is doing fantastic," coach Brad Kramer said. "For a kid that just picked up (the sport) this year, he's greatly improving. He's just a great kid."

Sam Stutz and Tre Shepherd also competed in league play.

Brandon Fernandez and Reilly Pyles-Sorrell round out the team.

The Cougars will compete in a Division I sectional Oct. 6 at Darby Creek, Denison Golf Club or Turnberry.

Girls tennis team seeks improvement

The girls tennis team was 1-14 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio through 15 matches.

The Cougars defeated Hamilton Township 3-2 on Aug. 19. Roxana Santiago Martinez won 6-1, 6-0 at third singles, Jackie Lopez Reyes and Lisa Nguyen won 6-2, 6-1 at first doubles and Westland won by forfeit at second doubles.

Vanesa Benitez Hernandez remains at first singles, Nancy Angeles Santos is playing second singles and Avery Ryan and Rebecca Bicer are playing second doubles.

"We are making progress and trying our best with a young team," coach Shaela Hinckley said.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

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Ethan Masanja and the Cougars will play at league favorite Pickerington North on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The Panthers were ranked fourth in the Division I state poll released Sept. 14.