by MICHAEL LEONARD | SPORTS EDITOR
Columbus -- The Division II state title game between Walsh Jesuit and Columbus St. Francis DeSales pitted two of the most successful girls soccer programs in Ohio history against each other.
DeSales was the defending Division II state champion and was looking to tie Walsh's five state titles as the most in state history.
However, this one left no doubt who the better squad was.
Walsh's offense hit on all cylinders, as the Warriors routed the Stallions 5-0 in the Division II state title game Nov. 9 at Columbus Crew Stadium.
Walsh set a couple records in the win as the Warriors finished unbeaten with a 21-0-2 record this season. DeSales finished at 15-8-1.
The five-goal margin was the widest in state title game history.
Also, Walsh's sixth state title gives them the most of any Ohio high school soccer program, male or female.
As has been the case after every title win, Walsh coach Dino McIntyre was moved to tears after the win.
"Six titles speaks for itself, but what makes it emotional for me is all the alumni that came out today," McIntyre said. "The alumni girls put together a great package for our girls last night. We're a family."
Walsh midfielder Sandra Yu echoes her coach's sentiments.
"This program's all about tradition," Yu said. "You always play for the girls who came before you. It's amazing to be a part of this and win the title with these girls."
Regarding the game, McIntyre said his team had its best offensive performance of the season.
"We put everything together today," McIntyre said. "Every little flick, every little fun, every pass was working. We've had good games this season where maybe one thing wasn't working. Today, it was perfect."
The statistics show how dominant Walsh was: The Warriors finished with a 21-2 edge in shots, including a 13-2 edge in shots on goal. Walsh also had a 10-1 advantage in corner kicks.
Walsh goaltender Libby Grace needed to make only two saves in the game, each of which was a long-range effort from the Stallions.
Beyond that, it was all Walsh, as Yu noted the Warriors' strategy worked perfectly.
"We came out and knew it was important to start fast," Yu said. "We wanted to get it up top and support our forwards. Our forwards did a great job holding the ball."
DeSales was able to keep things level early despite constant pressure from Walsh. Stallions goaltender Katerina Barrett made some nice saves early and finished with eight saves on the night.
However, Walsh opened the scoring in the 17th minute off a corner kick.
Midfielder Abbey Filicko sent a ball towards the back post from the corner, which forward Maddie John headed home.
"Basically, Abbey had the perfect cross in," John said. "It was amazing. I knew if I got my head to it, it was going in."
Walsh's second goal was a bit fortunate. After stealing the ball along the near sideline, midfielder Alex Kithcart sent a high cross into the box.
Kithcart missed her intended target, but the ball went over Barrett's head and bounced into the goal in the 27th minute.
If Kithcart's goal was lucky, Yu's final goal as a Warrior in the 29th minute was a thing of beauty.
Filicko provided the assist again, this time by lofting a ball from just outside the box, which allowed Yu to run onto it.
Yu got to the ball before Barrett could react and headed it in. Walsh took the 3-0 lead into halftime.
"She's one of the top three players we've ever had here at Walsh," McIntyre said of Yu, who has committed to play at the University of Notre Dame next year.
Walsh didn't take its foot off the gas early in the second half.
Yu turned provider in the 47th minute, as she worked a give-and-go with forward Kennedy Payne, which allowed Payne to go one-on-one with Barrett. Payne smashed the ball into the net to make it 4-0.
John closed out the scoring in the 56th minute, thanks to a sweet crossing ball by midfielder Julie Knapp.
Knapp hit a ball in from the wing which rolled right through the six-yard box. John had a easy goal, as she tapped it in at the back post.
After that, Walsh started to empty its bench, but still maintained a stranglehold on possession. DeSales had the ball so rarely in the second half that it didn't register a shot.
"They didn't give us much room to work with at all," said DeSales coach Bob McGhee of the Warriors. "They had a great team last year and didn't make it to the final. They probably felt they had something to prove."
"It's really weird," John said. "We had a lot of talented players last year that we lost [to graduation]. Everybody doubted us. The alumni came in and supported us a bunch."
McIntyre had nothing but praise for his seven seniors, as Yu, John, Filicko, Payne, forward Renee Mirka, midfielder Sarah Kornick and defender Amanda Thomas all went out as champions.
"The seniors did it themselves in terms of leadership," McIntyre said. "There's thing I didn't have to do as coach at all this year. This is the most coachable class I've ever had here. They've grown so much in the four years they've been at Walsh."
Good article. DeSales was the defending Division II state champion and was looking to tie Walsh's five state titles as the most in state history.......