Big Walnut Roundup: Seniors 'set the bar' for boys soccer team

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Jayden McConnell was part of a senior class that helped lead the Big Walnut boys soccer team to a 10-4-4 season. "It was extremely difficult for me to say goodbye to our seniors," coach Adam Gatton said.

Led by a strong senior class, the Big Walnut boys soccer team reached a district semifinal for the first time in six years and produced its best record in five years.

Under fourth-year coach Adam Gatton, the 17th-seeded Golden Eagles finished 10-4-4, falling at top-seeded Dublin Jerome 2-0 in a Division I district semifinal Oct. 27.

Big Walnut last won 10 games in 2015, when it finished 10-7-1.

The Golden Eagles last reached a district semifinal in 2014, when they fell to Watterson 2-1 in Division II.

“It was extremely difficult for me to say goodbye to our seniors,” Gatton said. “They meant so much to me, and they’re kind of the foundation I’ve built here over the last four years. Things finally came together this year, and they kind of set the bar.”

Three senior starters accounted for 25 of Big Walnut’s 38 goals.

Forward Jack Wood led the way with 13 goals and four assists, followed by forward Darwin Marcia (6 goals, 8 assists) and midfielder Cody Lumby (6 goals, 7 assists).

Wood and Lumby were first-team all-league selections. Marcia was honorable mention all-league.

Big Walnut, which averaged 2.1 goals per game, played Jerome to a scoreless first half before the Celtics found the net.

“We gave up a very early goal in the second half … and they scored again about 10 minutes later off a corner kick,” Gatton said. “At that point, we started pressing a little more. We had two to three good opportunities, but we just couldn’t capitalize.”

Jerome’s defense allowed just eight goals all season, with five coming in a 5-0 loss to Cleveland St. Ignatius on Oct. 17.

Big Walnut expects to return a strong back line in juniors Micah Tillar (second-team all-league) and Andrew Borcila (special mention all-league) and sophomore goalie Owen Couser.

Gatton said he expects sophomore forward Caleb Curran to be his “workhorse” next season.

Katie Cook, a defender, was one of four seniors on the Golden Eagles girls soccer team, which went 7-10-1.

Girls soccer team 

gained experience

While the girls soccer team finished with a losing record for the first time since 2015, coach Chris Allen said he watched his players progress throughout the season.

Seeded 22nd in the Division I district tournament, Big Walnut finished 7-10-1 with a 4-0 loss to fourth-seeded Olentangy in a district semifinal Oct. 28.

“We definitely built into the team we wanted to be by the end of the season,” Allen said. “We showed spurts throughout the season, but as we got into the tournament, things continued to get better.”

The Golden Eagles upset 11th-seeded Westerville North 2-1 in a second-round game Oct. 24, avenging a 5-2 loss to the Warriors in OCC-Capital Division play Oct. 1.

“That game really was an opportunity to show what we’re capable of,” Allen said.

Big Walnut loses just four seniors in defender Katie Cook, forward Avery Maxeiner, goalie Olivia Ramsey and midfielder Annie Thomas.

Maxeiner, who finished with eight goals and four assists, was first-team all-league.

Sophomore forward Emma Barnett (second-team all-league) led the Golden Eagles with 10 goals. Junior forward Estella Truax had seven goals, and sophomore forward/midfielder Ella Froehlich (special mention all-league) had four goals and a team-best five assists.

Sophomore Carly Hershberger, one of the team’s defensive leaders, was honorable mention all-league.

“Different people showed up at different times during the season, which is always good,” Allen said. “It looks to be very promising for next season. I think where we left off this season will be a good place to pick up next season.”

Borland named 

boys track coach

Ryan Borland has been named coach of the boys track and field team, pending school board approval, athletics director Brian Shelton announced on the school’s athletics website Nov. 2.

Borland just completed his 13th season as Westerville Central cross country coach. He spent 12 years as the Warhawks’ girls track coach.

He replaces Eric Myers, who led the Golden Eagles’ boys program for 13 seasons.

“I have been fortunate during my career at Westerville Central that I have been able to coach multiple all-Ohioans as well as numerous school record-holders,” Borland said on the school’s athletics website.

Before coaching at Central, Borland was the head cross country coach and an assistant track coach at Otterbein for 10 seasons.

His daughter, 2020 Big Walnut graduate Colbi Borland, was a standout in cross country and track for the Golden Eagles.

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BOYS SOCCER

Record: 10-4-4 overall

OCC-Capital standings: Dublin Scioto (5-0-2), Worthington Kilbourne (5-2), Westerville South (4-2-1), Big Walnut (3-2-2), Westerville North (3-2-2), Canal Winchester (1-4-2), Franklin Heights (1-5), Delaware (0-5-1)

Seniors lost: Brayden Buchs, Hayden Casto, John Ledyard, Cody Lumby, Jakob Lundberg, Darwin Marcia, Jayden McConnell, Derek Schwinne, Owen Wilhelm and Jack Wood

Key returnees: Andrew Borcila, Owen Couser, Caleb Curran and Micah Tillar

Postseason: Defeated Licking Heights 4-3; lost to Dublin Jerome 2-0 in Division I district semifinal

GIRLS SOCCER

Record: 7-10-1 overall

OCC-Capital standings: Delaware (7-0), Westerville North (5-2), Kilbourne (5-2), Dublin Scioto (4-2-1), Big Walnut (3-4), Canal Winchester (2-4-1), Westerville South (1-6), Franklin Heights (0-7)

Seniors lost: Katie Cook, Avery Maxeiner, Olivia Ramsey and Annie Thomas

Key returnees: Emma Barnett, Ella Froehlich, Carly Hershberger and Estella Truax

Postseason: Def. Westerville North 2-1; lost to Olentangy 4-0 in Division I district semifinal