Big Walnut High School boys soccer coach Tim Poitinger admits that he has been pleasantly surprised by his team this season.
"Coming in, we thought it would be a tough year," said Poitinger, who is in his first season leading the program after serving as an assistant coach at Gahanna the past eight seasons. "I didn't anticipate this kind of season. I thought before it started that going 7-7-2 would be a solid performance."
The Golden Eagles, who opened the season with only six players with varsity experience, have exceeded their coach's expectations by reaching a Division II district final for the third consecutive season and for the eighth time in the last nine years. They lost to Watterson 2-1 last year after losing to DeSales 2-1 in double overtime in 2011.
Seeded third in the district, the Golden Eagles played sixth-seeded Bexley in a final Oct. 26 at Westerville South looking for its first district championship since 2008. The district champion faces three-time defending state champion Dayton Carroll or Cincinnati Indian Hill in a regional semifinal Wednesday, Oct. 30, at a site to be determined.
The semifinal winner will play Bellbrook, Cincinnati McNicholas, Middletown Fenwick or Tipp City Tippecanoe in a regional final Saturday, Nov. 2, at a site to be determined. The regional champion advances to a state semifinal Nov. 6 at a site to be determined.
The Golden Eagles have not played any of their potential regional opponents this season. They lost to Carroll in a regional final in 2005 and 2008.
Big Walnut, which finished 12-7-1 last season, improved to 13-4-1 with a 3-0 win over seventh-seeded Bloom-Carroll in a district semifinal Oct. 22 at home. Freshman defender Nick Flury and junior midfielder Bobby Bogantz scored in the first half to give the Golden Eagles a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Senior midfielder Dominic Zumpone finished the scoring in the second half with a goal off of an assist from senior defender Max Denton.
"We played a solid game," Poitinger said. "I was pleased. We played a better game than I anticipated. We had a super scouting report from our assistant coach. With that, we were able to tailor a game plan that shut down Bloom-Carroll. We didn't give them much of a look at our net."
Bloom-Carroll entered the contest averaging 3.9 goals per game and had been shut out only twice in its previous 18 games. The shutout was the Golden Eagles' fifth in a row and their 12th on the season.
"We've really been preaching discipline on the field," said Poitinger, whose team had allowed just 11 goals through 18 games. "We're hitting all of our shifts accurately and precisely. It makes a difference."
Girls soccer team falls in district semi
The sixth-seeded girls soccer team lost to second-seeded and host Bloom-Carroll 3-2 in a Division II district semifinal Oct. 23 to finish 9-7-2.
"It was a tough game," coach Drew Pitzer said. "The elements were tough. It was cold. A rainstorm came through before the game started and made the field really slick."
The Bulldogs opened scoring in the first 15 seconds of the game.
"We came out flat," Pitzer said. "Not the best start possible. But we turned it around from there and outplayed them. We were by far the better team. We just couldn't finish."
Senior forward Skylar Fleak tied the game at 1 before halftime, but in the second half Big Walnut allowed an own goal and Bloom-Carroll made it 3-1 before junior defender/midfielder Jennie Wenger scored late during a scrum in the goal box to make it 3-2.
"It was a tough game," Pitzer said. "Honestly, I don't know if we could have played any better. The girls left everything they had on the field. I couldn't be more proud of the way they ended the season."
Pitzer won't use the poor weather as an excuse.
"It's always easy to blame the weather after a game," he said. "Did it make it a little more difficult? Yeah, but it's soccer weather. We're used to it. We live in Ohio. At the end of the day, both teams had to play in it."
Big Walnut, which had a first-round bye, defeated 10th-seeded Centennial 12-0 in the second round Oct. 19 at home.
Freshman midfielder Madison Aleshire led the Golden Eagles with three goals.
Bogantz advances to regional meet
Bobby Bogantz was the only member of the cross country program to compete in the Division I regional meet Oct. 26 at Pickerington North.
The junior led the boys team in the district 3 meet Oct. 19 at Watkins Memorial, placing 23rd of 115 runners in 17 minutes, 16.73 seconds as the top six teams and top 24 individuals in district 3 advanced to regional.
The top 16 individuals at regional qualified for the state meet Saturday, Nov. 2, at National Trail Raceway.
The boys team finished 11th (350 points) at district behind champion Lancaster (36) as 16 teams scored. Teays Valley (179) was the final regional qualifier.
Also scoring for the boys team were junior Jon Kahrmann (45th, 17:58.05), senior Logan Perry (87th, 19:20.58), senior Jacob Oppenheimer (91st, 19:26.85) and freshman Zach McDonald (107th, 21:02.6).
The girls team finished 15th (384) in district 3 behind champion Upper Arlington (64) as 17 teams scored. Dublin Coffman (148) was the final regional qualifier.
Junior Makenna Hemming led the Golden Eagles, finishing 67th (22:16.5) of 120 runners.
Also scoring for junior Addison Shawver (71st, 22:32.96), senior Olivia Daggett (74th, 22:47.36), junior Mikaela Smith (82nd, 23:10.41) and senior Catie Craig-Bowden (90th, 23:54.13).
Football team getting set for season finale
The football team will conclude its season Friday, Nov. 1, at home against Franklin Heights in an OCC-Capital contest.
Big Walnut, which lost to New Albany 13-10 in a league game Oct. 18, was 0-8 overall and 0-5 in the OCC-Capital before playing Olentangy Orange on Oct. 25. The Pioneers entered the matchup 1-7 and 1-4, having beaten Franklin Heights 33-10 on Oct. 18.
Franklin Heights was 1-7 and 0-5 before playing Delaware Hayes on Oct. 25. It defeated Columbus West 53-26 on Sept. 13.
Big Walnut held New Albany, which is ranked first in the Division II state poll and was 8-0 and 5-0 before playing Worthington Kilbourne on Oct. 25, to its lowest scoring output through eight games. New Albany entered the game against the Golden Eagles averaging 38.9 points.
Big Walnut tied the game at 7 before halftime on a 2-yard run by senior running back Alec Eisnnicher and took a 10-7 lead in the third quarter with a 23-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Tommy Fleser, but New Albany running back Leslie Anokye scored the decisive points on a 17-yard run with 3:28 left.
Junior quarterback Jordan Wall completed nine of 17 passes for 72 yards against New Albany. Junior running back Blake Marioth rushed for 60 yards on 14 carries and senior Chase LaVeer had seven catches for 52 yards.