The Westerville North boys lacrosse team did not rest on its laurels as it closed in on its first winning season in five years and only its third in the past decade.
If anything, the Warriors increasingly applied internal pressure during a 3-1 stretch leading into the postseason.
“We’ve been hard on ourselves as a team,” junior attacker Collin Howard said. “We held ourselves accountable and bought in.”
The emphasis for North now becomes sustaining the turnaround, especially with 10 of its 11 starters eligible to return. The Warriors went 10-9 overall and 3-3 in the OCC-Capital Division, splitting two postseason games after being seeded 13th of 19 teams. North lost 14-4 at second-seeded Hilliard Davidson on May 17 in the second round of the Division I, Region 3 tournament.
“(It was) the backs-against-the-wall mentality. We (didn’t go) down without a fight,” said assistant coach Ed Rooney, who oversaw the team for two games in mid-May as head coach Dan Bichsel took time off for the birth of his son. “We had some dogfights. Finding it deep within themselves, we’re very proud.
“We put a lot on (the underclassmen), but they wouldn’t be on the field if we didn’t trust them. They’ve picked up the game well and they’re performing.”
Howard led North with 57 goals and four assists, while junior midfielder Anthony Snoddy-Cunningham had the most balanced stat line with 45 goals and 43 assists.
Junior forward Mason Hornyak had 28 goals and 11 assists, and senior midfielder Noah Sherrard finished with 18 goals and 10 assists.
The Warriors had their first winning season since going 10-9 in 2017, two years before the sport was sanctioned at the school level. A 12-11 home win over 17th-seeded Hilliard Bradley in a first-round tournament game May 13 was the program’s second postseason victory in as many seasons after a seven-year drought in the playoffs.
“My eighth-grade year, they were 3-15,” Howard said. “Building this back to a winning record is something for us to be proud of.”
Other starters eligible to return are juniors Aidan Bee (defender), Jackson Furman (long-stick midfielder) and Ben Longwell (defender), sophomore Dominick Cofane (attacker) and freshmen Jonathan Stevens (midfielder/face-off specialist), Aiden Kight (defender) and Alex Troyer (midfielder).
North’s only senior starter was goalie Jack Bichsel, who made a program-record 292 saves. Furman set records for ground balls in a game (22) and season (195).
“We all looked at each other late in the season and we knew we weren’t done,” Bichsel said. “I hope that attitude carries on.”
•South boys lacrosse coach Michael Spatafore continues to like the direction in which his program is heading.
The Wildcats finished 10-9 overall and 4-2 in the OCC-Capital.
“We have some good, strong juniors coming up and a couple of sophomores who played really well,” Spatafore said. “We have some young kids coming up. We have some big holes to fill, but with the young group we have, if we put in some work in the offseason, we should keep rolling.”
Sophomore faceoff specialist Connor Staheli was named Player of the Year at his position in Division I, Region 3. He won 260 of 337 faceoffs for a 77.2 percentage.
Seniors Miles Wilke (goalie) and Andy Badu (midfielder) were second-team all-region. Wilke finished with 196 saves and Badu had 14 goals and 13 assists.
Junior Jack Chaney (attacker) led the team in scoring with 34 goals and 28 assists. Junior Devray Kirtland (attacker) had 18 goals and 18 assists, senior Bronson Wren (attacker) had 32 goals and three assists, senior Thomas Zerman (attacker) had 25 goals and seven assists, senior Karson Lane (midfielder) had 25 goals and five assists and senior Braden Lewis (midfielder) had 13 goals and seven assists.
Chaney and Lewis were honorable mention all-region.
Seeded 10th in the Region 3 tournament, the Wildcats lost 17-8 at fourth-seeded New Albany in the second round May 17.
“It was tough saying goodbye to the (14) seniors,” Spatafore said. “We let them know how proud we were of them. This program is where it is because of the work that the seniors put in these last four years.”
•Shrey Shyamalan helped continue the North boys tennis team’s recent resurgence, becoming its first Division I district qualifier in five years.
Shyamalan lost his only match May 19 at Olentangy, falling 6-2, 6-4 to Olentangy Orange’s Eric Tang. He was the Warriors’ first qualifier since Daniel Mayotte advanced in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“I lost but I’m still glad I was able to make it this far,” said Shyamalan, a sophomore who played first singles. “This is awesome. It was competitive. There are always lots of good people ... and it’s motivation for next year for sure. I can truly understand how good people are and how much I need to improve.”
North, which went 9-6 overall and 3-4 in the OCC-Capital, has won 21 matches the last two seasons after going 1-21 in 2019.
Including Shyamalan, five of the team’s top seven players are eligible to return in juniors Cori Bohan and Eli Lynskey and sophomores Tyler Jones and Alex Hedrick.
“(Shyamalan) is a good player who needs to expand his game a little bit,” coach Jim Chellis said. “He has things to work on in the summer and he can come back strong.”
•Although his team lost its only Division II, Region 7 tournament game, DeSales girls lacrosse coach Joe Finotti defended a decision to take on second-seeded Columbus Academy right away instead of waiting for a potential regional semifinal or final meeting.
The third-seeded Stallions lost to the Vikings 9-8 in overtime in a regular-season game May 6 and fell 11-7 to host Academy on May 17, when the Vikings used a 4-0 run in the second half to pull away.
“We figured why play one or two games that might end up in blowouts and potentially risk injury. We might as well take on, head-to-head, the best seed in the bottom of the bracket,” Finotti said. “They just got the momentum. They made a couple really good plays and built on each play, one at a time. Credit to them. They were the better team. We made too many mistakes and you can’t beat a team that good when you make your own mistakes.”
Senior midfielder and Xavier recruit Gianna Cua scored two goals and finished with a team-leading 74, ahead of sophomore attacker Isabella Carfagna (38), sophomore midfielder Olivia Sanabria (32) and senior attacker Monica Sullivan (23).
DeSales also got 17 and 15 goals, respectively, from junior attacker Kirsten Kelley and freshman attacker Tiffany Kelley in finishing 10-8 overall, 4-2 in the CIL and 1-1 in the CCL.
A 10-9 loss to Watterson on April 21 was DeSales’ first in CCL play since the league was formed in 2015, and it also snapped a 40-game winning streak in the CIL dating to April 23, 2015.
The Stallions also graduate both of their primary goalies in Devon Kirwin and Mount Union recruit Abby Reagan.
Senior defender Molly Ballard is a Slippery Rock recruit, and senior midfielder Ava Vendetti will play at Capital.
DESALES GIRLS LACROSSE
•Record: 10-8 overall
•CCL standings: Watterson (2-0), DeSales (1-1), Hartley (0-2)
•CIL standings: Watterson (6-0), Columbus Academy (5-1), DeSales (4-2), Granville (3-3), Bexley (2-4), Columbus School for Girls (1-5), Hartley (0-6)
•Seniors lost: Molly Ballard, Gianna Cua, Devon Kirwin, Abby Reagan, Monica Sullivan, Ava Vendetti and Brynn Wakefield
•Key returnees: Isabella Carfagna, Kirsten Kelley, Tiffany Kelley and Olivia Sanabria
•Postseason: Lost to Columbus Academy 11-7 in first round of Division II, Region 7 tournament
NORTH BOYS LACROSSE
•Record: 10-9 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Worthington Kilbourne (6-0), Big Walnut (4-2), Westerville South (4-2), Westerville North (3-3), Delaware (3-3), Canal Winchester (1-5), Dublin Scioto (0-6)
•Seniors lost: Hayden Arrasmith, Jack Bichsel, Aiden Kirjak, Jack Lykins and Noah Sherrard
•Key returnees: Dominic Cofane, Jackson Furman, Mason Hornyak, Collin Howard and Anthony Snoddy-Cunningham
•Postseason: Def. Hilliard Bradley 12-11; lost to Hilliard Davidson 14-4 in second round of Division I, Region 3 tournament
SOUTH BOYS LACROSSE
•Record: 10-9 overall
•Seniors lost: Andy Badu, Tavion Giles, Karson Lane, Braden Lewis, Thaddeus McDuffie, Ben Predragovich, Dominic Steele, Alexander Samples, Aidan Silva, La’Trell White, Miles Wilke, Bronson Wren, Curtis Wyglendowski and Thomas Zerman
•Key returnees: Jack Chaney, Devray Kirtland and Connor Staheli
•Postseason: Lost to New Albany 17-8 in second round of Division I, Region 3 tournament
NORTH BOYS TENNIS
•Record: 9-6 overall
•OCC-Capital standings: Scioto (7-0), Big Walnut (6-1), Kilbourne (5-2), Delaware (4-3), South (3-4), North (2-5), Canal Winchester (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)
•Seniors lost: Kirby Campbell, Matthew Lake, Success Oguntuyi and Alex Workman
•Key returnees: Cori Bohan, Alex Hedrick, Tyler Jones, Eli Lynskey and Shrey Shyamalan
This article originally appeared on ThisWeek: Westerville North boys lacrosse team continues ascent