Big Walnut Roundup: Girls soccer team gaining experience

SCOTT GERFEN
editorial@thisweeknews.com
Sophomore forward Ella Froelich returns to the Big Walnut girls soccer team after leading the Golden Eagles with 10 goals last season.

With Division II state semifinal appearances in 2017 and 2018 and an OCC-Capital Division championship last season, the Big Walnut girls soccer team expects to compete at the highest level.

That's why a 9-1 loss to Watterson on Aug. 29 seemed out of character for the Golden Eagles.

Then again, third-year coach Chris Allen has had to replace five 2020 graduates who helped elevate the program.

"The girls are eager to learn, but then you also have the inexperience," he said. "We're just a younger group this year trying to figure things out."

Big Walnut was 1-3 after losing its OCC-Capital opener to Delaware 2-1 on Sept. 1.

The Golden Eagles also lost to Westerville Central 2-0 on Aug. 21 and defeated Olentangy Berlin 5-4 on Aug. 27.

Despite the early struggles, Allen has embraced the team's youth.

"I think for me the last two years was taking a group and running with it," he said. "Now is my real opportunity to cement the kind of program that I want it to be."

While 2020 graduates Avery Schone (9 goals, 2 assists), Alexis Schone (7 goals, 10 assists), Payton Carter (goalie), Hailey Krinn (defender) and Alyssa Tarney (defender) are gone after an 11-4-3 finish a year ago, Big Walnut returns its top scorer in sophomore forward Ella Froehlich, who had 10 goals and three assists last season.

Also back are senior forward Avery Maxeiner, who scored twice against Berlin, and sophomore forward/midfielder Emma Barnett. Maxeiner had six goals last season.

Junior Estella Truax also will be contributing at forward.

Big Walnut's midfield includes senior Annie Thomas, junior Jordan Walters and sophomores Mya Kaylor and Abbey Coleman.

Senior Olivia Ramsey, who earned starts last season, is in goal. She will be supported by defenders Katie Cook (junior), Carly Hershberger (sophomore), Tia Kaylor (sophomore) and Madi Yano (junior). Hershberger is a returning starter.

Senior defender Morgan Bodker, who had six goals last season, decided to play club soccer this fall.

Big Walnut's league schedule also looks different with the OCC's realignment.

The Golden Eagles, Canal Winchester and Franklin Heights remain in the OCC-Capital and now are joined by Delaware, Dublin Scioto, Westerville North, Westerville South and Worthington Kilbourne.

Allen was last season's OCC-Capital Coach of the Year, leading his team to a 4-0-1 record to share the title with Canal Winchester.

Boys soccer team feels 'comfortable'

The expectations have reached a new level in boys soccer coach Adam Gatton's fourth season.

The seniors have spent their prep careers under Gatton's leadership.

"It's amazing how they've grown over those four years," he said. "Sometimes, it takes time to get comfortable with the system and the formation, so I think giving these guys some kind of consistency ... has paid dividends for sure."

The hope is that comfort level translates into more victories after the Golden Eagles went 6-12 overall and 2-3 in the OCC-Capital last season.

Big Walnut was 2-0-2 after defeating Delaware 4-1 in its OCC-Capital opener Sept. 1.

The Golden Eagles tied Ashland at 1 on Aug. 21 before defeating Licking Heights 3-0 on Aug. 25 and playing Gahanna to a scoreless tie Aug. 27.

Senior midfielder Cody Lumby had two goals in the first three games, and senior forwards Darwin Marcia and Jack Wood each had one.

The three, along with sophomore midfielder Caleb Curran, whom Gatton describes as a "get-a-goal-when-we-need-one kind of scorer," are expected to lead the Golden Eagles' attack.

Also back are junior forwards Logan Pry and Micah Tillar and senior midfielder Owen Wilhelm.

New at goalie is sophomore Owen Couser, who replaces 2020 graduate Ryan Kline.

"I'm excited for (Couser), and he's got a lot of potential," Gatton said. "It's tough stepping in there, especially when you have a lot of older guys in front of you. But I think his confidence has been sky high, and the guys have supported him and pushed him."

Junior Andrew Borcila earned playing time last season at defender, where Big Walnut had to replace 2020 graduates Tyler Pearson, Landen Rutkowski and Jayden Thomas.

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At a glance

BOYS SOCCER

*Coach: Adam Gatton, fourth season

*Top players: Andrew Borcila, Cody Lumby, Darwin Marcia, Logan Pry, Micah Tillar, Owen Wilhelm and Jack Wood

*Key losses: Ryan Kline, Ian Crotinger, Chris Geddis and Landen Rutkowski

*Last season: 6-12 overall

*2019 OCC-Capital standings: Groveport (5-0), New Albany (4-1), Canal Winchester (3-2), Big Walnut (2-3), Newark (1-4), Franklin Heights (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Defeated Mifflin 2-1 (OT); lost to Dublin Jerome 4-0 in second round of Division I district tournament

GIRLS SOCCER

*Coach: Chris Allen, third season

*Top players: Emma Barnett, Ella Froehlich, Carly Hershberger, Avery Maxeiner, Olivia Ramsey and Annie Thomas

*Key losses: Morgan Bodker, Payton Carter, Hailey Krinn, Alexis Schone, Avery Schone and Alyssa Tarney

*Last season: 11-4-3 overall

*2019 OCC-Capital standings: Big Walnut (4-0-1), Canal Winchester (4-0-1), New Albany (3-2), Newark (2-3), Groveport (1-4), Franklin Heights (0-5)

*2019 postseason: Def. Mifflin 10-0 in second round; lost to Olentangy Orange 4-1 in Division I district semifinal