Unnoticed by many, perhaps, is that Christian Community School’s boys team has rolled to an 11-1-1 record with victories over such public schools as always-competitive Southview.
Just as unnoticed is that one of the Warriors’ starting defenders is a girl, senior co-captain Becca Shaw.
“She’s the heart and soul of the defense,” said coach Ron Sandoval. “She’s the defensive spark. I forget if it was after the Brooklyn game or the Southview game, but one of our kids came up to me and said the guys on the other team were asking, ‘Who’s that girl that’s kicking our butts out there?’”
Over the past dozen seasons, we’ve seen female defenders on girls teams who could probably start for some boys teams. They’re few and far between. North Olmsted’s Kim Grabo comes to mind and so does Jennifer Loop of Elyria Catholic.
And there have been others who’ve actually played on boys varsity teams not nearly as successful as CCS is this season.
Which is all well and good, but remember this year’s Warriors are notable for more than the unusual presence of a girl starting on defense. The team has already bettered its 2006 record, when it hovered near .500.
It has two high-power scorers in freshman Josh Sandoval, the goal-scoring leader with 23, and senior Paul Liotta, who isn’t far behind. Third on the scoring list is junior Caleb Markovich, who missed five games with a broken bone in his leg, but who has returned to action full-time.
Junior Tyler Smith, the team’s attacking midfielder, is the assists leader. And the Warriors have a new goalkeeper in junior Troy Gerent, who has a goals-against average of less than 1.
“We’re a young team,” said coach Sandoval. “We have nine freshmen this year, which means we have the potential to be strong for several years to come.”
CCS is not an Ohio High School Athletic Association member and, therefore, not eligible to play in postseason tournaments. However, the Warriors have played in and won national titles in tournaments sponsored by one of several associations of Christian schools. Sandoval said he expects the team to play in one such tournament this season.
Whether they do and whether they win are not necessarily high on Sandoval’s list of coaching priorities.
“This is my first year,” he said, “and my thing is to make sure my players enjoy themselves.”
Sandoval’s assistants are Bob Markovich and Russ Wise.
Big match ahead
Don’t make non-soccer plans for Thursday afternoon.
That’s the day Lake Ridge Academy’s boys travel to Wellington for a 5 p.m. non-conference showdown with the Dukes. Some will argue convincingly that since Elyria Catholic’s surprise loss to Columbia on Tuesday, this is the most important match of the season in Lorain County.
There’s no objective way to find out, of course, but some fans are saying this game will determine which team is best in the area. Heading into this week’s action, both were 9-1. Lake Ridge fell to 9-2 after a 2-0 loss at Wickliffe on Wednesday.
Formerly top-ranked Wickliffe handed Wellington its first loss, 2-1, over the weekend. Wellington was to have hosted Kirtland on Wednesday, but the game was postponed because of thunderstorms.
Wellington is at Midview at 1 p.m. today in a non-conference match with great potential. Lake Ridge is playing in a weekend tournament in suburban Toledo.
Personally, I don’t do sports or any other kind of chat online, but from what I hear there’s a lot of it surrounding Columbia’s 2-0 stunner over Elyria Catholic on Tuesday.
“It all came down to team,” said Hank Proctor, the Raiders’ first year coach. “It was a great team effort. These kids want to win and they’re learning how to win. They’ve already learned that one of the ways to win is not playing kickball.
“We tell them to look at the Wellingtons and ECs. They play soccer the proper way. We need to play soccer the way they do. That’s the only way our program can get to the top and stay there. I really think we’re coming onto a new plateau and now we need to take the next step.”
In the EC game, Columbia got its goals from senior T.J. Welch, The Chronicle’s boys player of the week and the Raiders’ leading scorer. He got assists on both from the second-leading scorer, Jonathan Wheeler.
“T.J. is a phenomenal player,” Proctor said. “He’s been a complete team player from the start. In fact, all our kids are. They have great potential and a wonderful work ethic. I told them back in August our first practice was going to be two hours. When the time was up, they came to me and asked if they could practice longer.”
Rangers have guests
North Ridgeville’s boys are offering free admission to tonight’s match with Amherst for all North Ridgeville Amateur Soccer League in-house and travel-team players. Players wearing their current NRASL uniforms will also get free face painting and treat bags.
Those who arrive by 6:30 p.m. will be invited to form a double line of fans to welcome the Rangers onto the field for the varsity match. First touch is 7 p.m. A JV game is scheduled for 5.
A snip in time
There’s no known connection, but since Kyle Hyland returned from a leg injury and the rest of the team got free haircuts, Bay’s boys have won five straight games.
Hyland’s return makes sense.
“He’s a good player and we missed him,” said coach Bobby Dougherty, whose Rockets made West Geauga their fifth straight victim, 2-1, on Tuesday night.
“I don’t know what it is with the haircuts,” he said. “I do know that the Bay Barber Shop on Wolf Road offered to give the team free haircuts a couple weeks ago and stayed open late for them. And I know that since then, we’ve put together our first winning streak of the season.”
Bay improved to 7-3 with the win over West G.
Contact Bob Daniels at firstname.lastname@example.org.
T.J. Welch, Columbia
LAST WEEK: Even though he was slowed by a bad head cold, total-points leader Welch scored both goals in the Raiders’ surprise 2-0 victory over Elyria Catholic. Jonathan Wheeler, the team’s second-leading scorer, assisted on both. On the first, he sent a long pass ahead to Welch. The second came on a corner kick Welch headed into the Panthers net.
BIO: Welch has scored 14 goals and 33 total points this season, after tying for the team lead with just 17 points a year ago. He also handles field goals, extra points and kickoffs for the Columbia football team. Welch is a good student who likes his math courses. He plays club soccer for Cleveland Futbol Club, which last spring won the Ohio Youth Soccer Association North state championship in Copley.
LOOKING AHEAD: Wants to play college soccer but hasn’t decided where.