Andrews Osborne-Worthington Christian boys soccer football ultimate capsule
Nov. 9 — Andrew Osborne vs. Worthington Christian
What: Division III state final
When: 7pm, November 11
Where: Historic Crew Stadium, Black and Gold Boulevard, Columbus (Note: Due to the MLS playoffs, this year’s state finals are not taking place at Lower.com Field in the downtown area of Columbus Arena as they used to be as usual.)
Records: Andrews Osborne 17-0-1, Worthington Christian 18-2-3
What to look for: There is one final game left in the 2023 News-Herald coverage area high school football season, as Andrews Osborne will play for the boys D-III state crown. The Phoenix recorded a 1-0 state semifinal victory over previously unbeaten Ottoville on Nov. 8 in Clyde, getting the game-winner from Lucas Alonso Garcia in the first 40 on an Ishmael Mensah free kick. Both prospects have been essential in the attack on this positive postseason run, with Garcia, a junior, tallying 22 goals along with 16 assists, and Mensah, a senior, recording 17 goals and 30 assists. Javier de Osma (5-18), Manu Nieto (18-20), Diego Rivas (19 goals) and Giancarlo Toirac (4-5) are all capable players in the offensive third for the Phoenix as well. Rivas widens the attack. Mensah is a strong and tireless ball winner and helper. Nieto brings more power and confidence to the midfield. At the back, a group led by central defender Enrique Benito Sierra and goalkeeper Hugo Ricondo has made a big impact on the pitch. Ricondo had a pair of top-drawer saves late to keep the clean sheet against the Big Green, AOA’s ninth of the fall and fifth straight. An uphill climb awaits in one of the Buckeye State’s best perennial D-III sides in Worthington Christian. The Warriors are 17-1-1 since Aug. 28, their lone losses in 2023 coming to Dayton Christian, a D-III region finalist with 14, and Columbus Bexley, a D-II region finalist with 13 wins. In a 4-0 win over Waynesville in the state semifinals, Caleb Van Dop, Sammy Owusu-Sarfo, Ben Jende and Sam Blank found the back of the net. Owusu-Sarfo, a senior, leads the team with 28 goals and was named the D-III Central District player of the year. He receives reliable support from Jende (13-7), Eli Funderburke (12 goals), Max Glick (10-4) and Van Dop (8-9). This marks Worthington Christian’s first state final berth since 2011, when it blanked another News-Herald coverage area in Hawken, 2-0. The Warriors were led on the touchline to their 2009 and 2011 title runs, as well as this last state run, by longtime coach Dan Roads. What will be most important for AOA as he navigates his biggest stage is managing nerves in the midst of a tight game. The Phoenix are a side that have creative talent in reserve, especially 1v1, but they need to show that they are able to connect and hold shape when the going gets tougher. Mensah and Nieto must lead the case here as tone setters in ball winning, match dictation, drawing contact for restarts and service that expands the width and against desire. AOA has no secrets tactically. The challenge is to contain him, and the Warriors, with their experience and depth, are capable of it.