BW boys succer looks to build on successful 2011 campaign
By GARY HENERY
News Managing Editor
The 2011 Golden Eagles set the bar high for the Big Walnut boys soccer program.
Brett Weiss, who took over the program after long-time coach Charlie Brodhead stepped down after last season’s opener, led the Golden Eagles to their first-ever undefeated regular season (12–0-4) in school history while capturing the Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division crown with a 6–0-1 mark, one game better than runnerup rival New Albany (5–1-1).
The only Central District team to be ranked in the top ten, Big Walnut was ranked third in the final Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association Division II poll with its 14–1-4 record behind Dayton Carroll (16–0-0) and Richfield Revere (12–0-4) and was seeded No. 1 in the Division II Central District Tournament, but only to see its season end in a controversial 2–1 double-overtime loss to St. Francis DeSales in the title game played at Westerville Central High School.
Big Walnut returns seven lettermen from last season, led by three-year veterans in senior forward Austin Foor and senior midfielder Shane Facemyer who will serve as team captains this season. Joining Foor and Facemyer are junior two-year letter winners in junior defenseman Bradyn Dronsfield and junior forward Nathan Mickley. Also back are junior defensemen Dominic Zumpone and Max Denton along with junior midfielder Adam Carifa who earned their first varsity letter last season.
Foor, a Second Team All-OCC selection, returns after sharing last season’s Offensive Player of the Year Award. Dronsfield was the recipient of the Coaches Award. Weiss was tapped the OCC Capital Division Coach of the Year as well as the All-District Division II Coach of the Year.
The Golden Eagles graduated eight letterwinners off last season’s squad. Lost were four-year veterans Zach Mason and Ryan Schmidt and three-year lettermen Josh Annis and Dixon Duckwall along with two-year lettermen Patrick Sewalk, Jared Watkins, Corey Gibson and Lukas Swysgood.
Swysgood (Golden Eagle Award), Gibson (Offensive Player of the Year), Mason (Defensive Player of the Year), Duckwall (Most Improved Player) and Annis (Most Improved Player) concluded their Big Walnut careers by receiving postseason awards at the annual awards banquet.
Postseason recognition saw Mason named to the Division II First Team Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association and All-Central District, Schmidt to the All-District First Team and Facemyer to the All-District Second Team.
Mason, Schmidt and Facemyer were First Team All-OCC selections while Gibson and Swysgood were named to the Second Team, Duckwall to the Special Mention unit and Annis to the Honorable Mention squad.
Weiss will look to 11 newcomers to fill the holes left by graduation, including two seniors in Ethan Greene (midfielder) and Alex Bravender (goalkeeper); three juniors in Nick Herbert (midfielder), Cameron Evans (defenseman) and Luke Hartings (midfielder); and six sophomores in Noah Gibson (defenseman), Bobby Bogantz (midfielder), Tyler Sholl (goalkeeper), Ian Kirsch (midfielder), Kyle Wurm (defenseman) and Tyler Ledbetter (midfielder).
Weiss expects a competitive season from his Golden Eagles.
“We expect to be fit and competitive,” he said in a preseason interview. “We have a group of guys who are committed to becoming a team and functioning highly as a team. The biggest key to our success will be staying healthy throughout the entire season.”
Big Walnut opened its 2012 season Tuesday at Jonathan Alder. The Golden Eagles will make their home debut on Saturday at 11:45 a.m. with visiting Tri Valley before opening their OCC slate next Tuesday (Aug. 28) with rival Olentangy at 7:15 p.m.
Weiss will be assisted on the sidelines this season by Archie Foor and Milan Orr. Joining Foor and Orr are goalie coach Robbie Williamson and junior varsity coach Jason McLead.