Girls Lacrosse: Westerville Central Warhawks ready to deliver strong season

Frank DiRenna
ThisWeek group
Westerville City Schools

Westerville Central girls lacrosse coach Brady Walston couldn’t wait for her first game as the leader of the program at her alma mater, and the 2014 graduate has high hopes for her team. 

Walston replaced Abby Schmitz before the 2020 season, which was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. 

“A lot of the girls have been working year-round and it obviously shows,” Walston said. “I’m very excited to work with those girls again.” 

The new era in Warhawks lacrosse began with an 18-8 win over Buckeye Valley on March 22, and Central beat Marysville 14-7 the following night. 

“The girls are very eager to play,” Walston said. “They’re very prepared. A lot of the parents are excited for them.” 

A key returnee is senior Nina Domanik, who will play attacker, midfielder and defender. 

Other key returnees are seniors Emma Fantine (attacker/midfielder), Lauren Manton (defender/midfielder) and Kaitlyn Williams (defender) and juniors Bailee Shepherd (attacker) and Kira Shepherd (midfielder). 

Bailee and Kira Shepherd are twins. 

Sophomore Gracie Misiuk (midfielder/faceoff specialist) should be another key contributor. 

“Gracie is probably our strongest midfield player,” Walston said. 

Sophomore Emily Carson and freshmen Tori Eing and Avery Foster should see time in goal, and Carson also will play attacker at times. 

“The bulk of the varsity players have been playing since third or fourth grade,” Walston said. “We’ll probably have one of the best seasons Westerville Central has ever seen in a very long time.” 

Central is competing in the OCC-Ohio Division with Gahanna, New Albany, Newark, Pickerington Central and Pickerington North. It will open league play April 6 at Gahanna. 

INSIDE THE WARHAWKS 

Coach: Brady Walston, first season 

Next game: April 3 at Chillicothe 

Key athletes: Nina Domanik, Emma Fantine, Lauren Manton, Gracie Misiuk, Bailee Shepherd, Kira Shepherd and Kaitlyn Williams 

Wildcats have  

high expectations 

South entered the season with high expectations under third-year coach Wynleux Henderson, and the Wildcats opened with wins over Buckeye Valley (18-7 on March 19) and Chillicothe (17-2 on March 23). 

“Just having the opportunity this year to get back on the field and do what we love to do is a blessing,” Henderson said. “It’s also something that we talk about all the time, to just enjoy it, because you never know. We could be right back to where we started this time last year. It’s important that all the girls enjoy it while they can.” 

Senior midfielder/attacker Kaitlyn McBride was named second-team all-region in Division I and honorable mention all-OCC-Buckeye in 2019. 

Other key returnees are senior Gracie Kisker (attacker/midfielder/defender) and juniors Kayla Arens (midfielder/attacker), Isabelle Balla (defender), Yaretzi Centeno (defender/attacker), Erin Coonfare (attacker), Hewan Esayas (attacker) and Corinne Femia (defender). 

Sophomore Mia Dailey should start in goal. 

“We have a good core group of girls who have been around now for two and some three years,” Henderson said. “We’re trying to keep the game plan as simple as possible and focus on the little things. The girls really appreciate the routine and, in that way, it carries over year to year when we get new players to come in. 

“It’s just about trying to build a positive tradition in the lacrosse program at Westerville South, which is something that we haven’t had in a while.” 

South will play in the OCC-Capital with Big Walnut, Delaware, Dublin Scioto, Westerville North and Worthington Kilbourne. 

The Wildcats open league play April 6 at North. 

INSIDE THE WILDCATS 

Coach: Wynleux Henderson, third season 

Next game: April 6 at Westerville North 

Key athletes: Kayla Arens, Isabelle Balla, Yaretzi Centeno, Erin Coonfare, Hewan Esayas, Corrine Femia, Gracie Kisker and Kaitlyn McBride 

—Frank DiRenna

Warriors feature

‘Sweet 16’

North has a roster of only 16 players, but first-year coach Norm Deena believes that can be an asset by building a tight-knit program.

Deena, who led the Watterson boys program from 2009-11 and the Pickerington North girls in 2012-13 and again in 2015, is happy to be back on the sidelines. 

“It’s great to have the opportunity to come back and teach the sport I love,” Deena said. “We have a small group of 16 and because of that we won’t have a j.v. team. With our ‘Sweet 16,’ one of the things we want to focus on is outplaying and outworking our opponents.

“With having just 16 players, we’ll have to work together and be versatile. The players will be playing at all positions, so it will be a true team effort.”

The Warriors have only four seniors in Olivia Evans (midfielder/defender), Kellie Koch (midfielder), Aubrey McMahon (attacker/midfielder) and Rachel Snider (goalie).

Deena said McMahon and junior Alison Gruber will be switching from the attack to the midfield throughout games. 

Evans, juniors Ellie Bernard, Jessie Collinsworth and Olivia Snyder and sophomore Sarah Rubadue anchor the defensive end of the field along with Snider.

“The key this year with being a small team is we have to control the ball and control the tempo of the game,” said Deena, whose team opens April 6 at South in an OCC-Capital contest. “I think they really have shown that they’ve bought into what we want to do.

“As a team of 16, they’re counting on each other and they know they can’t be a weak link. Each one is pushing the other to be better.”

INSIDE THE WARRIORS

Coach: Norm Deena, first season 

Opener: April 6 vs. Westerville South

Key athletes: Ellie Bernard, Jessie Collinsworth, Olivia Evans, Alison Gruber, Kellie Koch, Aubrey McMahon, Olivia Snyder and Rachel Snider

—Scott Hennen

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