Evan Wypasek

North Royalton senior forward Evan Wypasek, shown playing in the sectional opener with Cleveland Rhodes, led his team in scoring this fall with 10 goals.

With only three players on this season’s roster having any varsity experience prior to this fall and a first-year head coach, North Royalton’s boys soccer team knew it would have its work cut out for it.

The Bears held their own against all odds. It took time for the players to get adjusted to with playing together and the trial-and-error approach to moving individuals to various positions on the field. Eventually, though, North Royalton showed its potential at just the right time.

In the playoffs.

After mutilating Cleveland Rhodes 9-0 in the sectional opener, the Bears advanced to the University Heights Division I Sectional final against St. Edward. They pushed the top-seeded team into overtime before falling 1-0 to the eventual regional runner-up.

“We played with great heart and left everything on the field,” North Royalton head coach Dan Collins said.

North Royalton showed glimmers of hope along the way this season as well. This should bode well for the Bears, who will return 9 of their 19 letter winners next fall.

While they were unable to defend their Northeast Ohio Conference River Division title they tied Brunswick for third with a 2-2-1 record behind Mayfield and Shaker Heights.

Collins pointed out that he was impressed with his players’ performance in the 3-1 season opening loss at home against Hudson, the Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division champ, and the 2-2 tie with Westlake, a regional finalist.

“We had an up and down season, and the results did not come our way (but) the boys saw that every day they were getting better,” Collins said.

The coach added that he is excited to see what the future holds for the program. Although North Royalton is graduating 10 players, including second-team All-Ohio goalkeeper Danny Nagy (178 saves, 1.3 goals/game) and leading scorer Evan Wypasek (10 goals), they and the rest of the seniors provided a solid leadership for the rest of the athletes in the program.

Nagy and Wypasek were captains with James Palko. The three were recognized by the conference this season. Nagy and Wypasek were first-team selections with another senior, Casey Mayell, while Palko was named honorable mention.

Also departing the program will be forwards Jacob Zimmerman and Mike Lancaster, defenders Tim Anderson, Tony Costa and Mike Kasala, plus Austin Peterjohn, an athlete the coach called “a technically gifted player who played defense.”

Looking ahead to next fall, North Royalton has quite a foundation expected back.

One key player is sophomore Dominic Grida, a two-year letter winner and first-team All-NOC selection who was “the nucleus to our midfield,” Collins said. Another is junior Josh Klaehn, All-NOC honorable mention defender who the coach said is “looking to have a great year next year.”

Other names to watch for include juniors Caden DeMattie, Joao Lopes and sophomore Nick Costa.

“There is a solid young group coming up,” Collins said. “You can see it in their eyes that they are eager for next year.”

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