Westland Roundup: Boys soccer squad made progress throughout season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Gerardo Guzman (center) was one of 10 seniors on the Westland boys soccer team. The Cougars finished 3-12-2 with a 4-1 loss at Olentangy on Oct. 20 in the first round of the Division I district tournament.

During his five seasons as Westland boys soccer coach, Jamie Dato stressed the fundamentals of the game, having a strong work ethic and displaying good sportsmanship.

Dato, whose team lost at 18th-seeded Olentangy 4-1 on Oct. 20 in the first round of the Division I district tournament, has announced he is stepping down because of family commitments.

Westland, which was seeded 39th for the postseason, finished 3-12-2 overall.

“I’ve enjoyed it — it’s been fun — but it’s time to do a little more with my two boys,” Dato said. “It’s a family thing. It was something I knew in my mind as the season was going on. The biggest thing was family, give myself more opportunities to do stuff in the summer and fall with my boys and my wife than I currently have.”

The Cougars went 0-5 in the OCC-Ohio Division to finish sixth behind champion New Albany (5-0).

“The last five, six games of the year we were playing well,” Dato said. “We were competitive. Overall they got a lot better as we went on. I was kind of happy with the way things ended up.”

A highlight this season was beating Central Crossing 4-0 on Oct. 15. Westland is unbeaten in its last 11 meetings (9-0-2) against the Comets, with the seniors going 4-0.

The Cougars will lose 10 players to graduation.

“I really enjoyed the seniors,” Dato said. “I was there five years, so it was the second group that I had all the way through from their freshman year. They were good kids. They worked hard and they had fun. They were a good group to coach and I enjoyed being around them.”

Junior midfielder Noah Fryman said he developed a strong relationship with Dato.

“The underclassmen were surprised by (his decision to step down) since he’s always coached us,” Fryman said. “It will be hard to replace Dato. He’s a good coach. He was there for us personally. That’s what made him a really good coach.”

Senior midfielder Khalil Suleiman led the Cougars with 10 goals and senior goalie Omar Campa, who was in his first season at the position, finished with 108 saves.

“(Campa) was my surprise player,” Dato said. “He was my most improved player.”

Others eligible to return include juniors Abdalle Ali (midfielder), Eric Allison (defender), Jeremy Canchola (midfielder), Daniel De la Fuente (defender), Bryan Garcia (defender), Pato Rebollar (defender) and Jameson Zau (midfielder) and sophomores Jose Aguirre (midfielder), Allen Andrade (forward) and Matt Berry (goalie).

Westland also beat Franklin Heights on Aug. 27 and Delaware on Oct. 8, both by 3-0 scores. The Cougars tied Newark at 1 on Sept. 8 and Hamilton Township at 2 on Sept. 29.

“The scores don’t show it, but if you went to our games over time we were playing a lot better,” Fryman said. “We were building our chemistry a lot better throughout the season.”

Under Dato, the Cougars went 29-50-6 overall and 4-21 in the OCC. He guided Westland to an 8-8-1 record in his first season in 2016 and was named OCC-Central Coach of the Year.

Before coaching at Westland, Dato was the coach at Grove City before stepping down  in 2013 after six seasons.

Girls soccer team

closes season

The girls soccer team saw its season end Oct. 24 with an 11-0 loss at third-seeded Dublin Coffman in the second round of the Division I district tournament.

The 40th-seeded Cougars finished 2-14.

Taylor Gullion and the Westland girls cross country team finished their season Oct. 24 in the district meet at Hilliard Darby.

Cross country teams

compete at district

The boys and girls cross country teams competed in Division I district meets Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby.

The boys finished 12th (352) of 14 teams in the district 1 meet behind champion Hilliard Davidson (27).

Tyler Aiken finished 62nd of 95 runners in 19 minutes, 9.4 seconds to lead the Cougars. George Reyes was 65th (19:28.4), followed by Drew Hutchinson (67th, 19:34.1), Harrison Jones (81st, 22:58.3), Brandon Fernandez (86th, 23:58.3) and Henry Jones (95th, 31:24.6).

In the girls district 3 race, Taylor Gullion was 76th (23:18.6) and Allison Chapin was 88th (25:29.5) of 95 runners.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank

BOYS SOCCER

Record: 3-12-2 overall

OCC-Ohio standings: New Albany (5-0), Pickerington North (4-1), Westerville Central (3-2), Grove City (2-3), Gahanna (1-4), Westland (0-5)

Seniors lost: Anwar Abubakar, Jayden Bruna, Omar Campa, Van Ceu, Gerardo Guzman, Heber Hernandez, Ulises Martinez, Ethan Masanja, Flavio Santiago and Khalil Suleiman

Key returnees: Jeremy Canchola, Daniel De la Fuente, Noah Fryman, Bryan Garcia and Pato Rebollar

Postseason: Lost to Olentangy 4-1 in first round of Division I district tournament