It’s well documented that the Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and Beachwood football teams had strong seasons that fell just short of the state tournament, but plenty of other sports had highs, too. From stunning upsets to state tournament runs, here is a look at some of the highlights from the fall sports seasons.
Tigers soccer team falls just short of regional tournament
The Cleveland Heights boys soccer team came very close to a bid in the regional tournament, falling to Mayfield 1-0 in the district championship. However, the Tigers scored one of their biggest wins in program history in the semis: A 1-0 victory over former LEL rival Mentor.
In Sean Sullivan’s 11-year career as head coach for the Tigers, he’s never beaten the Cardinals.
“To beat Mentor at Mentor in a tournament championship when they were No. 1 has never been done by Heights,” Sullivan said. “I’ve got a great foundation of kids coming back. I think making it to the district championship this year was a good experience and the kids have an idea of what it’s like to play in the higher levels of the tournament. I would not make any predictions, but we’ll have a very strong team returning next year.”
Cleveland Heights won the LEL championship with a 6-0 record and beat Eastlake North 3-0 to earn a sectional championship.
— The boys cross country team won the Lake Erie League championship.
— The girls soccer team won the Lake Erie League championship and fell to Chardon 3-0 in the sectional final.
— Volleyball beat Brush 19-25, 27-25, 25-22, 25-19 in the sectional semifinals. The Tigers fell to Willoughby South — the No. 1 seed — in three sets 5-25, 7-25, and 12-25 in the sectional final.
— Field hockey lost in the first round of the state tournament 8-0 to Ottawa Hills.
— Three of the five flights in girls tennis won their first match at the girls tennis sectional tournament. Miriam Bennett won two matches before falling in the third round to Maddie Gilley 6-1, 6-0.
With a 7-6 (6), 6-1 victory over Kacy Haggerty in the district quarterfinals, Beachwood’s Anna Pietsch qualified for the state tournament in girls tennis. The junior lost in the first round to Danielle Wolf 6-0, 6-0, but the experience of making it to the Sweet 16 was more than enough for the junior.
“I’ve never had so much fun playing tennis and enjoyed the time with this incredible team,” Pietsch said via email. “And even if there were some bad times, I always had fun and was happy to spend my time on the courts. It was an incredible experience, and the feeling to play among the top 16 of Ohio can not be described in words.”
Pietsch fell in the district semifinals at Harvard Park, but rebounded to take third with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Isabel Quinones. She dominated the Brush sectional until the semifinals where she dropped just one game in her opening three matches before winning 6-0, 7-5 to advance to the final. She took second after losing to Adrian Young 6-0, 6-2.
“The whole qualifying was just a constant high and exciting feeling,” Pietsch said via email. “The first minutes after I knew I qualified for the Ohio state championship, I thought thousand of different things at one time and my emotions went from happy, to excited, to speechless.”
Pietsch hopes to remain in America to enjoy another year with the team and train harder to return to Columbus and make a deeper run in the state tournament.
— Boys soccer triumphed over rival Orange 2-1 in overtime of the sectional semifinal. The fourth-seeded Bison lost to fifth-seeded West Geauga 2-1 in the sectional final.
— Kirtland beat Beachwood 2-1 in the girls soccer sectional final.
— Volleyball lost to Wellington in straight sets 19-25, 18-25, and 12-25 in the sectional semifinal.
Cullen reaches state meet
Erin Cullen saved her best time for when it mattered most: the state tournament meet at National Trail Raceway in Hebron. The Shaker Heights senior finished with a time of 19:16.88 and good enough for 71st. It was Cullen’s third trip to the state tournament.
“I always placed about the same all three years,” Cullen said. “It’s a lot different than the other meets. It’s a huge pack of people, very different from anything you’re used to.”
She qualified with a 12th place finish at the regional tournament at Boardman High School on Oct. 27 with a time of 19:37.37. Cullen took third at the Northeast District meet on Oct. 20 at Lakeland Community College with a time of 19:29.49.
Cullen is undecided on college and is interested in studying communications. Right now she is undecided on whether or not she’ll continue her running career in college. But either way her career continues in the spring when track season rolls along.
— Field Hockey had quite a run, coming a game shy of the State semifinals. First the Red Raiders beat Laurel 7-0, then defeated Hudson 3-1 in the district semifinals. Hathaway Brown ended Shaker Heights’ bid at a district title with a 3-2 victory in the championship.
— Brush upset the second-seeded Red Raiders 2-0 in the sectional final of boys soccer.
— Midpark girls soccer beat Shaker Heights 4-1 in the sectional semifinals.
— Volleyball lost to Maple Heights 13-25, 17-25, and 12-25 in the sectional semifinals.