Tim Poitinger has been stressing defense in his first season as coach of the Big Walnut High School boys soccer team, and the players have responded the way he was hoping they would.
Seeded third in the Division II district tournament, the Golden Eagles defeated 12th-seeded Johnstown 3-0 in the second round Oct. 17, marking their 11th shutout in 17 games this season.
Big Walnut, which had a first-round bye, improved to 12-4-1 and advanced to play host to seventh-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 22.
"The boys have certainly bought into the defense-first concept," Poitinger said.
The Golden Eagles, who have allowed 11 goals this season, limited Johnstown's scoring opportunities.
"I was pleased the way we defended our net," he said. "We only allowed two shots. We showed good poise and discipline in the second half. We only committed one foul and the game was getting pretty chippy."
Big Walnut led Johnstown 2-0 at halftime behind goals from senior midfielder Nathan Mickley and senior defender/midfielder Dominic Zumpone. Junior midfielder Bobby Bogantz added the third goal in the second half.
"We're set up to defend our net," Poitinger said. "We think defense first. We do a lot of counter-attacking. We always love getting goals spread out over different players. It's what you need. If you only have one or two kids scoring, other teams can stop that. But it's a lot harder to stop multiple players."
Big Walnut, which concluded the regular season with a 3-0 win over Hamilton Township on Oct. 12, did not play Bloom-Carroll during the regular season. The Bulldogs improved to 13-5 with a 3-2 win over 13th-seeded Beechcroft in the second round Oct. 17.
"We scouted them. We have an idea what to expect," Poitinger said of Bloom-Carroll.
The semifinal winner will face sixth-seeded Bexley or 11th-seeded Mifflin in a district final Saturday, Oct. 26, at Westerville South. The Golden Eagles did not play either team during the regular season.
The district champion advances to a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at a site to be determined. The potential opponents include three-time defending state champion Dayton Carroll.
Volleyball team falls in tourney opener
The girls volleyball team's first appearance in the Division I district tournament was short-lived.
Seeded 13th of 46 teams, the Golden Eagles lost to 10th-seeded New Albany 25-15, 26-24, 25-12 in the second round Oct. 16 to finish 14-9.
"It wasn't one of our better nights," coach Ron Lehman said. "New Albany played well. They played a good match and we didn't respond well to it.
"(New Albany) served tough, they hit the ball well (and) they played good defense. We struggled passing the ball, we missed serves and had a ton of hitting errors."
The Golden Eagles had split their two OCC-Capital matches against New Albany during the regular season, with New Albany winning 25-11 25-18, 25-18 on Sept. 10 and Big Walnut winning 26-24, 25-21, 27-25 on Oct. 3.
Big Walnut went 1-2 in the Tourney for the Cure on Oct. 12 at Pickerington North, defeating Licking Heights (25-20, 25-20) and losing to Cleveland St. Joseph Academy (25-20, 25-20) and Gahanna (25-23, 25-15).
"We didn't play well at all," Lehman said, referring to the Volley for the Cure event. "The three or four matches before that we played really well. I thought it would be good for us. We just had an off day. We came back from that and had a really good practice (Oct. 14) and (Oct. 15) and I thought we were ready for (the district tournament), but obviously not."
Cross country teams begin postseason
The cross country teams competed in the Division I, district 3 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial.
The top six teams and top 24 individuals for both the boys and girls meets advanced to regional Oct. 26 at Pickerington North. The top four teams and top 16 individuals at regional qualify for the state meet Nov. 2 at National Trail Raceway.
Big Walnut competed in the OCC-Capital meet Oct. 12 at Pickerington Central.
The girls team scored 173 points to finish sixth, behind New Albany (29), Worthington Kilbourne (38), Olentangy (62), Delaware Hayes (113) and Olentangy Orange (144) and ahead of Mount Vernon (189). Franklin Heights did not have enough runners for a team score.
Junior Makenna Hemming paced the Golden Eagles, finishing 34th in 22 minutes, 54.29 seconds. Also scoring were senior Olivia Daggett (37th, 23:09.66), junior Addison Shawver (41st, 23:24.28), sophomore Rachael Brown (44th, 23:57.48) and junior Mikaela Smith (47th, 24:13.65).
The boys team finished seventh (197), behind New Albany (27), Olentangy (48), Orange (68), Kilbourne (123), Mount Vernon (141) and Delaware (150) and ahead of Franklin Heights (227).
The Golden Eagles were led by junior Jon Kahrmann, who finished 29th (18:19.91). Also scoring were senior Logan Perry (39th, 19:02.41), junior Bobby Bogantz (40th, 19:03.63), freshman Zach MacDonald (58th, 20:26.93) and sophomore Michael McGowan (59th, 20:28.14).
Girls soccer team opens postseason
Seeded sixth, the girls soccer team opened the postseason against 10th-seeded Centennial in the second round of the Division II district tournament Oct. 19 after having a first-round bye.
The winner plays second-seeded Bloom Carroll or 18th-seeded Caledonia River Valley in a district semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the home of the higher seed. The semifinal winner likely will play top-seeded Granville or ninth-seeded Buckeye Valley in the final on Saturday, Oct. 26, at Gahanna.
The Golden Eagles, led by senior forward Skylar Fleak and senior midfielder Bailey Armstrong, were 8-6-2 before playing Centennial.
Football team getting ready for Pioneers
The football team travels to Orange on Friday, Oct. 25, for OCC-Capital contest.
Depending on the outcomes Oct. 18, it could be a matchup of winless teams, as Big Walnut was 0-7 overall and 0-4 in the OCC-Capital before playing New Albany and Orange was 0-7 and 0-4 before facing Franklin Heights.
Big Walnut lost to Mount Vernon 58-35 in a league game Oct. 11. The contest marked the most points scored by the Golden Eagles this season and the most points allowed by them.
The Golden Eagles had scored a total of 40 points through six games, with its previous high coming in a 25-19 loss to Olentangy on Sept. 20. Their previous high for points allowed this year came in a 34-0 loss to St. Charles on Sept. 13.
Against Mount Vernon, running backs Alec Eisnnicher (1 and 23 yards) and Blake Marioth (1 and 4 yards) each scored two touchdowns.
The Golden Eagles' other touchdown came on a 62-yard pass from quarterback Jordan Wall to wide receiver Joe Muench.