The Big Walnut High School boys soccer team is off to a strong start despite the fact that the players continue to adjust to the changes implemented by first-year coach Tim Poitinger.
The Golden Eagles were 4-1 overall before playing Whetstone on Sept. 7.
"I'm satisfied with where we are," Poitinger said. "Anything can happen. It certainly beats being 0-5.
"It's been a little hard for the boys to grasp (the changes). We'll go in and out of the indirect style, but it's not consistent. It's a work in progress. For some of the older guys, it's hard to change your style in your junior or senior year, but they're all working hard at it. There are some things to fix, but it's coming along."
Big Walnut defeated Delaware Hayes 1-0 on Sept. 3 to improve to 1-1 in the OCC-Capital Division on a first-half goal by junior forward Adam Carifa.
Senior defender Dominic Zumpone assisted on the goal, booting a free kick from 35 yards out to the back post, where Carifa headed the ball into the net.
"I was very impressed with Delaware," Poitinger said. "They're a well-organized, well-coached team. We created a large number of chances, which is something we haven't been doing. We just couldn't finish any of them."
The defense has been living up to coaching expectations.
"I'm pleased we're defending our net," Poitinger said. "That's of paramount importance. We're defending with numbers and quality."
Senior goalkeeper Tyler Sholl had a total of 12 saves and four shutouts through five games. The only goal scored against him came in a 1-0 loss to Olentangy in a league game Aug. 27.
"He was a little too aggressive," Poitinger said. "If he could do it over again, I'm sure he wouldn't have come as far out."
Tennis team has heavy league schedule
The girls tennis team was busy last week with three consecutive OCC-Capital matches.
"It sounds cliche, but we had to take each match as they came," coach Ryan Balaz said. "The girls had only one match (the previous week) and we really used that to get several practices in and a little bit of rest."
Big Walnut was 5-4 overall and 3-2 in the OCC-Capital after beating Franklin Heights 5-0 on Sept. 5. It beat Worthington Kilbourne 4-1 on Sept. 3 but lost to Olentangy Orange 5-0 on Sept. 4.
"I'm really pleased how the girls have improved and shown growth over the course of the last month," Balaz said. "They're starting to fill in their roles. All the girls are really hard workers and they enjoy being out there. It makes a big difference."
Against Kilbourne, junior Erika Kessler won 6-3, 6-3 at second singles, senior Bailey Goodrich won 6-4, 6-4 at third singles, seniors Janie Serna and Cali Ford won 6-0, 6-2 at first doubles and senior Hannah Flynn and freshman Anna Faust won 6-4, 6-2 at second doubles.
Big Walnut has another busy schedule this week, as it plays host to Westerville Central on Monday, Sept. 9, before back-to-back league matches Tuesday, Sept. 10, at Mount Vernon and Thursday, Sept. 12, at home against New Albany.
New Albany is the defending OCC-Capital champion.
"The next couple weeks really makes or breaks our spot in the conference," Balaz said. "We have some matches coming up that could be pretty close. It's exciting."
Football team getting ready for St. Charles
The football team travels to St. Charles on Friday, Sept. 13, for the first regular-season meeting between the programs.
The Golden Eagles have scrimmaged against the Cardinals in recent years.
St. Charles lost to Pickerington North 20-0 in its opener Aug. 30 and played Eastmoor Academy on Sept. 6. Big Walnut played host to Chillicothe on Sept. 6 after losing to host Mansfield Senior 28-7 in its opener Aug. 30.
Big Walnut was held to 174 total yards and only nine first downs.
Junior running back Christian Johnson had 10 carries for 52 yards, including a 9-yard touchdown that gave the Golden Eagles a 7-6 lead at halftime.
Junior quarterback Jordan Wall was 8-for-19 passing for 69 yards and an interception. Junior wide receiver Joe Muench had two catches for 43 yards and senior wide receiver Chase LaVeer had two receptions for 26 yards.
On defense, senior linebackers Austin Crow and Alec Eisnnicher each had three tackles and Crow recovered a fumble.
Mansfield Senior, which outscored the Golden Eagles 22-0 in the second half, had 362 total yards.