Big Walnut Roundup: Girls soccer squad works through growing pains
A young Big Walnut girls soccer team has figured out that gaining experience takes time.
While the Golden Eagles reached a Division I district semifinal last season and made back-to-back Division II state semifinal appearances in 2017 and 2018, they have been focused on progress and cohesiveness this season.
“There was a learning process that we expected to undergo even before we started,” coach Chris Allen said. “But I don’t think our youthfulness directly correlates to our capability. We have a lot of great potential. But experience-wise and handling certain situations, some of our girls have never been in those spots before.”
Big Walnut was 6-9-1 overall and seeded 22nd as it opened play in the Division I district tournament’s second round Oct. 24 against 11th-seeded Westerville North or 28th-seeded Reynoldsburg.
The winner plays in a district semifinal against seventh-seeded Olentangy or 41st-seeded Franklin Heights on Wednesday, Oct. 28, at the better-seeded team’s home field.
The district final is Saturday, Oct. 31.
“We were a little shaky at the beginning of the season,” senior forward Avery Maxeiner said. “I don’t think everyone knew their roles and what we needed from them. I think coach Allen got us to understand that everyone is going to have to contribute to move forward. That’s what’s really showing right now.”
Big Walnut closed the regular season with a 1-0 victory over Canal Winchester on Oct. 13 and finished 3-4 in the OCC-Capital Division, behind champion Delaware (7-0).
Before the win against the Indians, the Golden Eagles had lost five of six contests and played Lexington to a 3-all tie Sept. 29.
“We haven’t been steamrolled in these games,” Allen said. “But there are risks that we take, and when you make mistakes, other teams will punish you for that. We make little mistakes and teams score off it.”
Entering postseason play, sophomore forward/midfielder Emma Barnett was leading the team with 10 goals, followed by Maxeiner (8) and junior forward Estella Truax (5).
Sophomore Carly Hershberger and senior goalie Olivia Ramsey have been the leaders on defense.
The 17th-seeded boys team opened district tournament play against 27th-seeded Licking Heights in a second-round game Oct. 22. The winner likely plays at top-seeded Dublin Jerome in a district semifinal Tuesday, Oct. 27, with the district final Saturday, Oct. 31.
Big Walnut closed the regular season at 9-3-4 overall and 3-2-2 in the OCC-Capital.
Girls runners take
third in OCC meet
Madi Yano led the girls cross country team to a third-place finish (97 points) behind Dublin Scioto (63) and Canal Winchester (79) in the OCC-Capital meet Oct. 17 at Westerville North.
Yano finished 11th (20 minutes, 36.4 seconds), followed by Grace Grunewald (16th, 20:55.3), Emma Kelly (19th, 21:02.1), Kaylyn Huber (23rd, 21:23.5) and Gianna Rose-Romosier (28th, 21:39.6).
Christopher Lee’s 12th-place finish (17:19.3) led the boys team (148), which finished sixth behind champion Scioto (32).
Eli Lengl (27th, 17:56.4), Gabe Ghering (29th, 17:58.4), Ryan Cummins (43rd, 18:23.9) and Gabe Bibawy (44th, 18:24) also scored for the Golden Eagles.
The boys and girls teams both competed in the Division I district meet Oct. 24 at Hilliard Darby, from which the top six teams and top 24 runners advanced to regional Saturday, Oct. 31, at Pickerington North.