Westland Roundup: Soccer teams tuning up for district tournament
A pair of recent performances has raised the optimism of the Westland boys soccer team heading into the Division I district tournament.
The Cougars defeated Delaware 3-0 on Oct. 8 and lost to Hilliard Bradley 3-1 on Oct. 10 in a game they led 1-0 in the second half.
Westland was 2-10-2 overall before closing the regular season against Grove City on Oct. 13 and Central Crossing on Oct. 15.
The Cougars were 0-4 in the OCC-Ohio Division with the game against the Greyhounds being the league finale. New Albany led the league at 4-0 before playing Westerville Central on Oct. 13.
Westland is seeded 39th of 41 teams for the postseason and will visit 18th-seeded Olentangy in the first round Tuesday, Oct. 20.
“We’re definitely playing better over the last few games,” coach Jamie Dato said. “We’re just hoping to get a win in the tournament.”
The Cougars lost to the Braves 5-0 on Sept. 3.
“It was our first road game of the year,” Dato said. “We were still trying to figure things out. I’m not saying we’re going to beat them, but we’re better than 5-0. It should be a closer game. It was a tale of two halves. We had a really bad first half and played a lot better the second half. It was our first game on turf.”
The winner plays at 10th-seeded Upper Arlington on Thursday, Oct. 22.
Senior midfielder Ethan Masanja is eager for the rematch with the Braves.
“We’ve already played that team,” he said. “The score was very unlucky. As long as we stay compact on (defense) and move left to right, we seemed to stop them every time. We can change some things up when we play them again in the playoffs.”
Khalil Suleiman scored two goals and an added an assist against Delaware. Ulises Martinez scored the other goal.
“We brought that intensity with us that game,” Masanja said. “We were going to goal. We have some creative players on our team, but sometimes we just don’t go for goal and that game we went to goal and we got it.”
Through 14 games, Suleiman led the team in scoring with six goals and an assist, and Allen Andrade had a goal and three assists.
Jeremy Canchola scored to give the Cougars a lead at Bradley.
“We actually hung with (Bradley) pretty good with having the lead for a while,” Dato said.
“I like the job coach Dato is doing,” Masanja said. “He’s very passionate. It shows that he actually wants to win.”
The girls team is seeded 40th of 41 teams in the district tournament and visits third-seeded Dublin Coffman in the second round Saturday, Oct. 24. Both teams have a first-round bye.
The winner plays 13th-seeded Marysville, 19th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 33rd-seeded Licking Heights in a semifinal Oct. 28.
Girls volleyball team
to visit DeSales
Girls volleyball coach Nicole Zumpano is hoping her underclassmen gain some valuable postseason experience when the team opens the Division I district tournament Monday, Oct. 19, at sixth-seeded DeSales.
Westland is seeded 40th of 41 teams.
“With us having six juniors this year, it will give them a lot of good experience in the tournament and hopefully improve upon for next year,” Zumpano said.
Zumpano expected her team to be at full strength when it closed the regular season Oct. 13 against Westerville Central and Oct. 15 against Grove City.
The Cougars entered last week on a 12-match losing streak and were 3-16 overall and 0-8 in the OCC-Ohio.
Setter Kenadee Winters has returned after missing time with a foot injury, and middle hitter Rylea Bott also has returned.
“This year has definitely been a difficult year,” Zumpano said. “One, with the pandemic going on, and two, with injuries that pop up because it’s something you never anticipate.”
The Westland-DeSales winner plays 35th-seeded Marion Harding in the second round Wednesday, Oct. 21, at the home of the better seed.
Through 17 matches, Alaina Russell led the team in kills with 58, followed by Bott (55), Kiera Bonds (49), Lyhea Correa (45) and Ashley DuMelle (41).
Winters (24) and Russell (22) led in aces, Kaci Roush (239) and Russell (134) led in digs, Delaney Moore (142) and Winters (141) led in assists and Bott (14) and Bonds (12) led in blocks.
Girls tennis team
The girls tennis team ended its season in a Division I sectional Oct. 8 at Upper Arlington.
Vanesa Benitez, the team’s only senior, went 1-1 in singles to lead the Cougars.
Sophomore Nancy Angeles and freshman Rebecca Bicer went 0-1 singles, as did the doubles teams of juniors Jackie Lopez Reyes and Lisa Nguyen and sophomore Roxana Santiago and freshman Avery Ryan.
The Cougars finished 3-15 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio.
“We were a young team, but they worked hard and were dedicated players,” coach Shaela Hinckley said. “They never let their losses get them down, which isn’t easy when you have to play difficult teams. I am very proud of them.”
•Record: 3-15 overall
•OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Westerville Central (4-1), Gahanna (3-2), Pickerington North (2-3), Grove City (1-4), Westland (0-5)
•Senior lost: Vanesa Benitez
•Key returnees: Nancy Angeles, Rebecca Bicer, Jackie Lopez Reyes, Lisa Nguyen, Avery Ryan and Roxana Santiago