Watterson senior midfielder Gabriela Rotolo goes up for a header during a 3-1 loss to Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal Nov. 2. After missing time at the beginning of the season, Rotolo scored four goals in eight games.
On the same day the eventual state-champion Watterson field hockey team earned its second consecutive regional title, three of the school’s other fall programs celebrated championships.
The boys soccer, girls soccer and girls volleyball teams each won district titles that day before having their seasons end at the regional semifinal level.
It marked the longest postseason run for the boys soccer team since it won a Division II district title in 2014, the final year of Chad Smith’s first tenure as coach before returning in 2019.
The Eagles were district runners-up a year ago when they went just 4-10-4 and improved to 12-4-2 overall this season, also earing a runner-up finish (3-1) in the CCL behind St. Charles (4-0).
“This is kind of a new feeling for this group, playing in these big moments and knowing how to react,” Smith said. “These are big moments for all the boys.”
Trent Maisano, a forward who scored 24 goals and was the district’s Player of the Year, led a nine-player senior class.
Owen Ferguson (midfielder), Johnny Haemmerle (midfielder), Sean Nyhus (defender), Isaac Ohlin (defender), Alex Spiers (midfielder) and Joey White (forward) were other key seniors.
Sophomores Dillon Brown (midfielder), Alex Ferguson (forward) and Jordan Vais (defender) should be among the top returnees.
“We’ve got nine seniors, with five or six that played quite a bit, so we’ve got some things to figure out, but we’ve got boys coming,” Smith said.
The volleyball team, despite having just one senior in defensive specialist Layla Bergman, followed its first appearance at the Division I state tournament last season by going 21-6 overall, winning the CCL at 6-0 and competing in a pair of heart-stoppers during their last two postseason matches.
After edging Watkins Memorial 25-22, 18-25, 25-27, 25-21, 15-13 on Oct. 30 in a district final at Whitehall, the Eagles lost to Olentangy Orange 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 13-25, 15-11 on Nov. 4 in a regional semifinal at Hilliard Darby.
Watterson has won four consecutive district titles.
Junior Clara Vondran (outside hitter) finished with 267 kills and juniors Mercedes Motton (middle hitter) and Ava Hoying (outside hitter) had 239 and 236 kills, respectively. Hoying surpassed the 500-kill mark for her career during the district final.
Junior Riley McGee (middle hitter) also was a key member of the offense.
Sophomore Maija Egletis and junior Sydney Spears split time at setter, with Egletis having 489 assists and Spears having 381.
Junior Callie Kasun (defensive specialist) led in digs with 280, and junior Maren Jenkins (right-side hitter/outside hitter) also was a key contributor.
“I’m really fortunate at Watterson,” coach Stephanie Grieshop said. “We have a lot of great feeder schools and great coaches, so when I get them, I have great girls to choose from. As a group, we train together and we don’t train separately and what that brings is we just push those incoming freshmen and make them stronger and stronger.”
The girls soccer team went 4-4-1 over its first nine games without senior midfielder Gabriela Rotolo but went 4-2-1 during the remainder of the regular season after her return.
As the eighth seed for the postseason, the Eagles went on to win their third district title in four seasons, upsetting top-seeded Olentangy 2-1 in overtime in a Division I district final Oct. 30 at Worthington Christian before falling 3-1 to Olentangy Liberty in a regional semifinal Nov. 2 at the same site.
While Rotolo finished with four goals in eight games, senior forward Brooklyn Scythes had 20 goals and five assists, junior forward Rachel Spencer had 10 goals and five assists and junior midfielder Sydney Workman added five goals and nine assists.
“It’s all about growing and developing through the course of time and obviously we were a little bit undermanned at the beginning of the season,” coach Scott Dempsey said. “As we got healthier, we grew into the team we wanted to be. Things really turned around for the better as we made a run down the stretch and in the second half of the season, we had really strong performances by our girls.
“I don’t know how many teams in the Central District have been to four straight district championship games, but this senior class accomplished that for the first time in Watterson history. I’m pretty proud of the way things turned out in the long run. We’re losing a great senior class, but we’ve got a lot of players coming back.”
•Record: 12-4-2 overall
•CCL standings: St. Charles (4-0), Watterson (3-1), Hartley (2-2), DeSales (1-3), Ready (0-4)
•Seniors lost: Liam Besser, Owen Ferguson, Johnny Haemmerle, Trent Maisano, Jake Myers, Sean Nyhus, Isaac Ohlin, Alex Spiers and Joey White
•Key returnees: Dillon Brown, Alex Ferguson and Jordan Vais
•Postseason: Def. Heath 11-0; def. Johnstown 4-0; def. Granville 4-3; lost to Lexington 1-0 in regional semifinal
•Recap: Watterson won just four games last season and lost 5-2 to Whetstone on Sept. 4 to drop to 1-2-1, but lost only one more regular-season game.
The Eagles earned the No. 2 seed for the Division II district tournament and beat fifth-seeded Granville 4-3 in a district final with Maisano, a senior midfielder who was the district’s Player of the Year, leading the way.
•Record: 12-7-2 overall
•CCL standings: Watterson (3-0), Hartley (2-1), DeSales (1-2), Ready (0-3)
•Seniors lost: Maddy Bellisari, Sarah Cobb, Ellie Copeland, Lexie Francis, Bella Matre, Ryan McGinn, Jordan Morales, Evie Owens, Gabriela Rotolo, Brooklyn Scythes, Erin Tracy and Lauren Tracy
•Key returnees: Gabby Capozello, Rachel Spencer, Sydney Workman
•Postseason: Def. Logan 9-0; def. DeSales 5-0; def. Olentangy Berlin 2-1 (OT); def. Olentangy 2-1 (OT); lost to Olentangy Liberty 3-1 in regional semifinal
•Recap: The Eagles won their third Division I district title in four seasons despite playing the first nine games without Rotolo, a senior midfielder and Ohio State commit.
Watterson took off after Rotolo’s return and beat top-seeded Olentangy in a district final despite being the No. 8 seed.
•Record: 21-6 overall
•CCL standings: Watterson (6-0), DeSales and Hartley (both 3-3), Ready (0-6)
•Senior lost: Layla Bergman
•Key returnees: Maija Egletis, Ava Hoying, Callie Kasun, Riley McGee, Mercedes Motton, Sydney Spears and Clara Vondran
•Postseason: Def. Groveport 25-14, 25-14, 25-16; def. Briggs 25-6, 25-5, 25-7; def. Lancaster 25-17, 25-22, 25-17; def. Watkins Memorial 25-22, 18-25, 25-27, 25-21, 15-13; lost to Olentangy Orange 18-25, 25-17, 25-19, 13-25, 15-11 in regional semifinal
•Recap: After third-seeded Watterson had to go the distance before beating second-seeded Watkins Memorial to win its fourth consecutive Division I district title, it came up just short against Orange in a regional semifinal in another five-set match.
The Eagles accomplished that feat, as well as winning the CCL championship, despite having just one senior in Bergman, a defensive specialist.
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Watterson Eagles: Soccer, volleyball teams deliver standout seasons