Big Walnut High School girls soccer coach Drew Pitzer knows his team will have experience on its side as it prepares to defend its Division II district championship from a year ago.
Many of the Golden Eagles players have been on varsity for at least two years.
"This team has been there, done it and won it," said Pitzer, whose team is 10-2-4 overall and finished 3-1-1 in the OCC-Capital Division. "They understand what it takes, and they understand what it means. ... It's that 'been there, done it before' attitude that's driving them. Nothing surprises them at this point."
A year ago, the Golden Eagles broke out of a midseason slump and went on to win the program's first district title, losing to eventual state champion Kettering Alter 2-0 in a regional semifinal to finish 10-7-3.
Alter was ranked second in last week's state poll behind Cincinnati Indian Hill.
Seeded second of 16 teams, Big Walnut opens the district tournament at home against 16th-seeded Whitehall in a first-round game Monday, Oct. 16. The winner plays fifth-seeded Buckeye Valley or 12th-seeded Lakewood in a second-round game Thursday, Oct. 19.
The second-round winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 24.
Granville, which the Golden Eagles defeated 1-0 on Aug. 26, is the district's top seed.
Along with experience, Big Walnut enters the postseason with a strong defense that produced 11 shutouts during the regular season. The Golden Eagles have won their last five games and are 7-0-2 in their last nine. Their last loss came against OCC-Capital champion Canal Winchester, 1-0 on Sept. 12.
Sophomore goalkeeper Payton Carter and defenders Erin Boehm, Riley Bussen and Mya Raser have been the leaders around the net.
"This is Riley's third year controlling the back, so she's got it down to a science and she knows what we want," Pitzer said. "I don't have to say anything to her. Mya is a senior who's been on varsity for four years, and Erin Boehm is a junior. The continuity is there."
Senior forward Emma Padgett is the team's leading scorer with 14 goals, followed by sophomore forward Alexis Schone with seven.
Boys soccer team preps for postseason
The boys soccer team had won six consecutive games and was 8-7 overall before playing Olentangy on Oct. 12 in its regular-season finale.
First-year coach Adam Gatton is hoping the Golden Eagles can carry that momentum into the Division I district tournament. Big Walnut, seeded 24th of 47 teams, has a first-round bye and will play 10th-seeded Hilliard Darby or 37th-seeded Columbus West in a second-round game Saturday, Oct. 21.
The winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 25.
"I think it took a little bit of time to get my system in place and getting guys comfortable with what we're wanting to do," said Gatton, whose team finished third (3-2) in the OCC-Capital behind New Albany (5-0) and Canal Winchester (3-1-1). "Everything has just fallen into place the last couple of weeks and we've just taken it and run with it."
Big Walnut averaged 4.3 goals during its six-game winning streak. The Golden Eagles' offensive attack features a number of different scorers, led by center back Jon Mickley with seven goals through 15 games.
Football team getting ready for Cruisers
The football team rode a two-game winning streak into its OCC-Capital contest against New Albany on Oct. 13.
Eli Myers scored on runs of 43 and 3 yards and Nathan Lawyer rushed for 107 yards to help the Golden Eagles defeat visiting Franklin Heights 21-14 on Oct. 6.
Big Walnut, which is 3-5 overall and 3-0 in the league after defeating New Albany 14-0 on Oct. 13, beat host Newark 47-14 on Sept. 29 after losing its first five games.
The Golden Eagles travel to Groveport on Friday, Oct. 20. The Cruisers are 0-8 overall and 0-3 in the OCC-Capital after losing to Newark 14-0 on Oct. 13 and were averaging just 9.7 points through seven games.
Kercsmar reaches district tournament
Macie Kercsmar of the girls tennis team reached the Division I district tournament for the second consecutive season.
The senior finished third in singles in a sectional Oct. 6 and 7 at Pickerington Central to advance to district, which was held Oct. 12 at Hilliard Bradley and Oct. 14 at Upper Arlington.
At district, the top four finishers in singles and doubles advanced to state Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21, at Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason.
Kercsmar went 4-1 at sectional, defeating Marion Harding's Maggie Pitts 6-0, 6-0 in a district-qualifying match. She then lost to the eventual sectional champion, Marietta's Meredith Coil, 6-0, 6-1 in a semifinal before beating Granville's Eleanor Male 6-1, 6-2 in the third-place match.
Junior Lindsay Hill went 2-1 at sectional, losing to Coil 6-0, 6-0 in a district-qualifying match.
Losing in first-round matches at sectional were Lexi Kirkpatrick in singles, the doubles teams of Kayleigh Cummins and Katie German and the doubles team of Maria Boyer and Allyson Stevens.
Volleyball team to open postseason
The girls volleyball team is seeded second of 21 teams in the Division II district tournament and will open the postseason Wednesday, Oct. 18, at home against 20th-seeded Beechcroft in a second-round match.
The winner advances to a district semifinal Oct. 26.
Big Walnut was 18-3 overall before playing Upper Arlington on Oct. 12 in its regular-season finale. The Golden Eagles finished 10-0 in the OCC-Capital, earning their 14th league title in the last 18 seasons.
Runners preparing for district meet
The cross country teams are preparing for the Division I district meet Saturday, Oct. 21, at Watkins Memorial.
The girls will compete in district 3, where the top six teams and top 24 runners advance to the regional meet Oct. 28 at Pickerington North. The boys will compete in district 2, where the top five teams and top 20 runners advance to regional.
Both teams competed in the OCC-Capital meet Oct. 14 at Lancaster.
Boys golfers' season ends at district
Senior Michael Ford and sophomore Kenny Schneider of the boys golf team ended the season at the Division I district tournament Oct. 10 at Apple Valley.
Ford shot 79 to tie for 24th of 72 golfers and Schneider carded a 94 to tie for 68th, as the top two teams and top two individuals not on a qualifying team advanced to state Friday, Oct. 20, and Saturday, Oct. 21, at Ohio State's Scarlet Course.
Thomas Worthington's David LaLonde (73) won a playoff to earn the second individual state berth.
"Michael had two holes where he (took a triple bogey), so that's 6-over par," said coach Chuck Workman, who had two golfers compete at district in the same year for the first time in his seven seasons at Big Walnut. "He had two or three birdies, so he played pretty well. He just wasn't quite on his game, and I think a lot of it was nerves."
The Golden Eagles opened the postseason Oct. 3 by placing seventh (339) of 12 teams in a sectional at Clover Valley, behind district-qualifiers St. Charles (300), UA (311), New Albany (319) and Dublin Coffman (328) as well as Dublin Scioto (329) and Watterson (337).
Ford and Schneider shot 75 and 80, respectively, to qualify for district.
Big Walnut finished second (16-4) in the four-round OCC-Capital tournament, behind New Albany (20-0) and ahead of Canal Winchester (12-8), Newark (8-12), Groveport (4-16) and Franklin Heights (0-20).
Ford led the Golden Eagles with a 74.75 league average, followed by junior Zack Herbert (81.0), senior Michael Ruark (82.0) and Schneider (88.75).
Big Walnut is losing two seniors in Ford and Ruark. Expected to return are Herbert, Schneider, junior Nate Dimitroff, sophomores Tyler Garner and Reno Overbaugh and freshman Austen Bennett.