Regional reboot: Warren boys face Watterson in Sweet 16 tonight

If there’s any truth to “third time’s a charm,” then the Warren boys’ soccer team could be in good shape when it plays Columbus Bishop Watterson in a regional semifinal at Bloom-Carroll Wednesday at 7 p.m.

The Andrew Johnson-coached Warriors (16-2-2) have claimed three consecutive Ohio Division II boys’ soccer district championships but in the ensuing Sweet 16 round opener have have been eliminated two straight years.

Maybe this year will be different.

“The team from Columbus will be excellent,” Johnson said. “Columbus is a power in D2 soccer, but I see no reason why we cannot compete.”

Warren is coming off a dramatic 1-0 overtime triumph over arch-rival Marietta High in a district final at Lucasville Valley last Saturday. Senior Alex Miller scored the match-winner on a header early in the opening extra session.

Nathan Robinson was credited with an assist.

Warrior keeper Tyler Schwendeman was credited with a clean sheet.

“Saturday’s match was a good, even game,” Johnson said. “Anytime that Marietta and Warren play, it will be a one-goal game.

“They are well-coached and a strong team. I am happy that both teams made it that far.”

During regular-season play, Warren edged Marietta 2-1 at the Devola Soccer Complex, and then tied the Tigers 1-1 in Vincent. Last year, the Warriors eliminated the orange and black booters 2-1 in overtime in a sectional championship match in Vincent. Later, after repeating as a district champ, the royal blue and white squad was shut out by Bexley 3-0 in a regional semi at Logan.

Miller’s goal Saturday was his 39th of the season. He also had one against MHS in the first meeting.

Warren is also expected to start Seth Hall (striker), Michael O’Callaghan (midfielder), Nathan Robinson (mid), Ben Koch (mid), Aaron Mazurkiewicz, Wyatt Lynch (defender), Kendrick Hendrix (defender), Hayden Smith (defender), Cole Miller, and Schwendeman.

“I will be starting the same way I have been all year,” Johnson said.

Completing the Warrior roster are Andrew Spencer, Carter Magers, Andrew Mazurkiewicz, Chase Hardman, Eli Mallahan, Wade Lynch, and Ethan Estes.

Last year, Warren won with a senior-oriented team. This fall, Alex Miller and Wyatt Lynch are the only seniors on the squad.

Johnson’s assistants are Billy Koch and Tom Arnold.

Chad Smith-coached Watterson, the largest Catholic high school in Columbus, is a member of the CCL (Central Catholic League), which also includes Bishop Hartley, Bishop Ready, St. Charles, and St. Francis DeSales.

Warren is very familiar with DeSales, which blanked the Warriors 3-0 in a regional semi two years ago.

Last Saturday, Watterson (15-4-0) faced the Stallions in a district tilt at Westerville North and won 1-0 in overtime on junior midfielder Paul Mokrzan’s goal. Senior Zach Storc got the assist.

Keeper Trevor Funk, a senior tri-captain and three-year starter, had five saves, and was credited with a clean sheet.

The Watterson senior booters have now won three district titles in four years. Last year, the Eagles (12-5-3) were ousted by Cincinnati Indian Hill, 1-0, in a regional semi.

Striker Tommy Geraghty and midfielder Michael Gilbert are Watterson’s other senior captains. Geraghty and senior mid Mitch Werner are both three-year starters.

Watterson will also be featuring letterwinners’ Michael Guza (senior mid), Michael Harper (junior defender), Frankie Isabelle (junior defender), Brad Kanney (junior mid), Sam Magee (junior striker), Storc, and Mokrzan.

Some of the other players on the Eagle roster are seniors’ Sam DeCocker (defender) and Griffin Maxwell (mid), juniors’ Anthony Gulla (defender), Jack Heidenthal (keeper), Teddy Hoying (mid), Colin Kalealo (mid) and Jared Nation (defender), and sophomores’ Mitch Nation (striker) and Matt Pardi (mid).

Smith’s assistants are Alex Brust and Kevin Anderson.

Watterson is reportedly solid on defense and between the pipes.