by Sheldon Ocker
It’s not an exaggeration to say that preparation for the Division II state soccer championship begins in kindergarten for kids in the Revere school district.
By the time they’re in fourth or fifth grade, athletes in the Revere youth soccer program are ready to give voice to their thoughts.
Nick DePompei, head coach at Revere High School, told this anecdote about a coach who tutors the U12 team.
“The other night, the team was going for training and one player says, ‘In six years, we’re going to be there, we’re going to be down in Columbus [playing for the state title],’” DePompei said. “We have a long history and a culture of high expectations.”
DePompei has contributed a lot to those expectations in nine years as head coach and two as an assistant. Revere (20-1-2) has made it to the state finals four times in the past 10 years, winning once and finishing second three times, including weeks ago, when the Minutemen lost 2-0 to Tippecanoe, which has reached the finals three times in the past five years.
In recounting the game, DePompei said, “It was kind of like 2018, unfortunately. I thought we had a good chance and then we got scored on within 10 minutes. … We had chances, we just couldn’t put any chances away.”
Considering Revere’s lack of experience at the outset of the season, finding themselves in the state title game was a revelation. The Minutemen lost 13 seniors, including eight starters, from the 2022-23 squad. Nineteen of 24 players on this year’s varsity played on the JV team a season ago.
“We always know we’re going to be good,” DePompei said. “We have the talent, but can we put it together with so many new faces? It was very surprising the amount of success we had and how quickly we were able to put this group in the right direction.”
The fast track to success had a lot to do with the play of senior Dylan Halm, who was named Ohio Player of the Year in Division II. Halm led the Minutemen in scoring with 33 goals; he also delivered 10 assists.
“He actually missed five games,” DePompei said. “So, he was averaging two goals a game.”
There are entire teams that don’t average two goals per game. Not surprisingly, Halm is being recruited by several colleges.
“Dylan is definitely looking to play in college,” DePompei said. “He hasn’t committed yet, but Ohio State is one school he’s been talking to.”
Junior AJ Catlett, who made first team all-state, could be the catalyst that propels the Minutemen to another banner year next season. Catlett scored 11 goals and handed out 27 assists to lead the team.
Senior Jeff Boyle scored 11 goals and had eight assists, and junior Gavin Boltz had eight goals and seven assists.
Seven seniors will graduate from the current Revere squad, including five starters, which puts the Minutemen in a better manpower position than at the end of last season.
Unlike most coaches, DePompei sets the team goal as high as it can go. A Suburban League title is all well and good, but Revere expects to compete for a state championship.
“A lot of our conversation has to do with making progress every game, win or lose,” he said. “During the regular season, you can go look at film, you can go train, and you can sort out what happened. When you get into the playoffs, you have to do all of that in five minutes, not a day.”
So, the regular season is largely to rehearse for the main event: the tournament.
“Typically, it’s been the seven-game playoff season that we look forward to,” DePompei said. “As long as we get something out of every game and get better and learn a little more about where the puzzle pieces are supposed to fit, that’s our goals for the regular season.”
DePompei knows Revere won’t bring home a state title every year, but it’s worth the effort to try.
“Obviously, you don’t get there every time,” he said, “but I think the character these guys build, having that goal every year is something that’s bigger than winning it.” ∞
Senior Jeff Boyle, number 10 on the right, scored 11 goals and had eight assists in the Hudson game. Photos by Dennis Nations.
Senior Dylan Halm drives the ball down the field and junior AJ Catlett is ready with an assist in the Kent Roosevelt game. Halm was named Ohio Division II Player of the Year and scored 33 goals during the season. Catlett was named to the first team all state. Photos by Dennis Nations.
Andrew Caranna (in blue) challenges a Bay Village player for the ball. Photos by Dennis Nations.
The Revere team is photographed after winning the district championship. Coach DePompei is in the back row, second from the end. Photo by Dennis Nations.