Big Walnut Roundup: Golden Eagles boys lacrosse team gets early boost from offense

Scott Gerfen
ThisWeek
Senior Gordon Rond leads a young group of midfielders for the Big Walnut boys lacrosse team. The Golden Eagles lost to Westerville Central 13-11 on March 19 and defeated Buckeye Valley 16-0 on March 23.

Season openers might not mean much in measuring success, but first-year Big Walnut boys lacrosse coach Zeid Rawahneh hopes the offensive production was a telling sign.

While the Golden Eagles lost to Westerville Central 13-11 on March 19, their experience on the attack was apparent.

“We’ve always been a very defensive-centric team, and it’s nice to know that they were able to come out in that first game and put up some goals,” said Rawahneh, whose team defeated Buckeye Valley 16-0 on March 23. “That was a good team that we played (in Central), and it’s a team we haven’t done well against historically.”

Junior attackers Ashton Baker (4 goals) and Braden Andreini (2 goals) and senior attacker Luke Chiles (2 goals) accounted for much of the scoring against the Warhawks.

All were members of the 2019 team that, with a strong senior class, finished 12-8 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye Division and won a Division II postseason game.

Big Walnut competes in the OCC-Capital this season against Delaware, Worthington Kilbourne, Westerville South, Westerville North and Dublin Scioto. It begins the league schedule April 6 against visiting Scioto.

Defensively, Big Walnut returns four seniors, including a past starter in Sam Smith. The others are Braden Keck, Cole Wecker and Gage Sutton.

“We have 14 seniors on our roster, but a lot of them haven’t had varsity experience, which a lot of them would’ve had last year if we would’ve played,” Rawahneh said of last season’s cancellation because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Those experienced seniors on defense will be supporting freshman goalie Carson Withrow.

“He’s been a pleasant surprise for us,” Rawahneh said. “We weren’t really sure what we were going to get from him coming in, but he’s really showed us a lot. He stood toe to toe with the Westerville Central goalie, who’s one of the best in the region in my opinion.”

Senior Gordon Rond leads a young group of midfielders, which includes sophomores Caleb Sanford, Zac Griffith and Logan Telesz.

BOYS LACROSSE

•Coach: Zeid Rawahneh, first season

•Next game: April 6, home vs. Scioto

•Key athletes: Braden Andreini, Ashton Baker, Luke Chiles, Braden Keck, Gordon Rond, Sam Smith, Gage Sutton and Cole Wecker

‘Smaller’ girls lacrosse 

squad still has depth

Even with smaller numbers, the girls lacrosse team expects to have many contributors this season.

Big Walnut’s program has 39 athletes, down from more than 50 in 2019.

“Everybody is going to play, and everyone is going to be on the field a lot,” 10th-year coach Steve Palmer said before his team opened with a 19-7 win over Hilliard Bradley on March 23.

A strong junior class leads the way for the Golden Eagles, who expect to improve on their 2019 finish of 8-8 overall and 2-5 in the OCC-Buckeye. They begin the OCC-Capital schedule April 6 at Scioto.

“We’re (two years) older and, hopefully, a little wiser,” Palmer said. “We need to settle down on offense. We were very quick in 2019. We need to see what the defense gives us, and we have the skill level to match that patience.”

Expected to lead the offense are junior attackers Evi Myers, Katherine Ryan and Addyson Smith and senior attacker Kat Brehm.

Junior midfielders Peyton Deverso and Ashley Fisher were key contributors two years ago when 2019 graduate Cassady Becker had a team-best 49 goals.

As freshmen, Deverso (honorable mention all-league) had 40 goals and Fisher scored 29.

“We want to be a little bit more poised, or relaxed, to give our defense some time to breathe,” Palmer said.

Three of the team’s six seniors will help lead the defense in Audrey Hofer, Gigi Roberto and Ashley Walker. Juniors Savannah Smith and Skylar Huff also will see playing time.

Freshman Caroline Weber will start at goalie.

“She played two years in middle school, takes lessons and works on her game in the summer, so she’s dedicated,” Palmer said. “We’re excited for her and the opportunity she’s going to have on varsity.”

GIRLS LACROSSE

Coach: Steve Palmer, 10th season

Next game: April 6, at Scioto

Key athletes: Peyton Deverso, Ashely Fisher, Audrey Hofer, Evi Myers, Gigi Roberto, Katherine Ryan, Addyson Smith and Ashley Walker

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