Boys Soccer: Westerville South enjoying bounce-back season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
South goalie Isaac Smith clears the ball while teammate Milo McNabb (left) and Central's Abdi Mohamud look on during their game Sept. 28. The host Wildcats won 1-0 to snap a 13-game winless streak against the Warhawks. South's previous win in the series was 2-1 on Aug. 30, 2007.

Although his team slipped to 2-12-3 last season, just two years removed from winning a Division I district title, Westerville South boys soccer coach Wynleux Henderson believed it was a minor setback.

It appears he was correct, as the Wildcats again are one of the top teams in central Ohio and contending for an OCC-Capital Division title.

South was 9-1-2 overall and 2-1-1 in the league before playing Canal Winchester on Oct. 1.

“South soccer never really dipped,” Henderson said. “We played good soccer last year, we were just unfortunate with some of the results that we got. This year has definitely been the year where our main focus has mostly been on enjoying the time that we have together because, as we’ve seen with COVID, you don’t know how long we’re going to be out here. The guys are doing well, they’re reaping the benefits of it.”

The Wildcats were 13th in the district poll released Sept. 25.

South visits Pickerington North on Thursday, Oct. 8, in a non-league contest. The Panthers were first in the district and fourth in the state poll.

“This group has really bought into playing for each other and really enjoying every moment that they get,” Henderson said. “That’s been our big thing, enjoying the game this year because with the snap of a (finger), it could be taken away from us.”

Before playing Canal Winchester, the Wildcats’ lone loss came against Dublin Scioto, 2-0 on Sept. 1 in the OCC-Capital opener. Scioto was first in the league at 3-0-2 before playing Delaware on Oct. 1.

“Scioto is a great team,” Henderson said. “Obviously, we’d love to have that game back. We started slow (and) they capitalized on mistakes that we had in the second half. If we face them (in the Division I district tournament), we’ll definitely bring our 'A' game because we would expect them to.”

South will close league play Tuesday, Oct. 13, against visiting Worthington Kilbourne.

The district tournament drawing is Sunday, Oct. 11. The tournament begins Oct. 19.

“Our expectations as a program were to have 10 regular-season wins, but once the tournament season comes, all of the records are out the window,” Henderson said. “Any team can be beaten and we have to make sure we’re ready for whatever comes.”

A highlight this fall has been beating both Westerville Central and Westerville North in the same season for the first time in program history.

“That means a lot to us,” senior Nick Lovell said. “We were looking forward to it all year, especially since we weren’t able get it last year and two years ago we had a three-way tie, so being my senior season, we wanted to win this really bad.”

The Wildcats’ 1-0 win over Central on Sept. 28 snapped a 13-game winless streak (0-8-5) against the Warhawks. South, which is 2-9-5 in the series, last defeated Central 2-1 on Aug. 30, 2007.

“It was definitely a special night for that group of seniors,” Henderson said. “I couldn’t be happier for them. I couldn’t be happier for the entire program.”

Lovell scored the game’s lone goal in the second half off a Raul Diaz corner kick and Caden Carfagna assist.

Henderson said goalie Isaac Smith played well, including recording a key second-half save to keep the game scoreless. He finished with six saves.

South defeated North 2-1 on Sept. 15.

fdirenna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekFrank