BW boys soccer rolls past Rams in District debut, 5-1
By ERIC CLINE
For The Sunbury News
Tournament time is enough to make any team tense, but the Big Walnut boys soccer team rebounded after some first half jitters.
The Golden Eagles scored four goals in a span of just over six minutes in the second half to break a 1–1 halftime deadlock and defeat the visiting Whitehall Rams 5–1 in a Division II Central District sectional semifinal match Tuesday night at Big Walnut Soccer Stadium.
“We were flat, and I wasn’t happy,” Big Walnut coach Brett Weiss said. “Sometimes you get going and try to hit the perfect pass or the perfect shot right away and you forget about the little things, but we came out in the second half and got it going. The tournament is all about surviving that one bad game, and that was my message to the boys — ‘Make sure this is your one bad game’.”
Big Walnut (10–6-1) scored first when senior midfielder Shane Facemyer sent a long ball from near the midfield stripe to senior forward Austin Foor, who broke away from the Whitehall (4–9-1) defense and sent the ball past goalkeeper Jon Lunsford just 3:45 into the match.
But Whitehall didn’t back off, despite giving up several shots on goal. The Rams would pull even with 7:13 left in the first half, when Samson Edessa sent a shot toward the upper left corner of the goal mouth just over the outstretched arms of Big Walnut senior keeper Alex Bravender.
The Golden Eagles controlled the first half, getting 14 shots to Whitehall’s three, eight shots on goal to Whitehall’s two and all eight first-half corner kicks, but the teams were still tied at the break.
Weiss could have bawled his team out, but saw instead only minor adjustments were necessary.
“We’re so young, and you can’t give them a rollicking every time, but by the same token you can’t be a cheerleader,” Weiss said. “You have to pick and choose those moments. We could see them tense up, so we just had to do a couple simple things, and if we did that, we could get our game back and get some confidence.”
What the Golden Eagles needed most was to get more shots on goal and keep the ball out of their own end, which they did to perfection in the second half. Big Walnut had 21 shots in the final 40 minutes, including 14 on net, while allowing Whitehall no shots at all. The Eagles also had 11 corner kicks in the second half and 18 for the game.
“We tried to keep the ball down in their area, keep basic pressure on them and put more balls on goal,” Weiss said. “The simplest thing we told them is don’t let (the ball) bounce. On their kicks and on those long balls out of their end, don’t let them bounce and put them right back in there, then we pick it up and start going.”
The reward came with 28:18 left in the match, when sophomore forward Bobby Bogantz sent a long pass from the left side into the 18-yard box, where Foor put it on his foot and past Lunsford for the tie-breaking goal.
But the Golden Eagles were far from finished. Bogantz sent a corner kick in from the left side to Facemyer in the six-yard box, and the senior headed the ball past Lunsford with 24:29 left, putting Big Walnut up 3–1.
Less than two minutes later, the Whitehall keeper batted a ball away only to have Foor sprint in, intercept the ball and put it past him again with 22:52 left in the match. Just 38 seconds later, sophomore midfielder Adam Carifa dropped a ball in front of Foor on the left side of the box, slipped past Whitehall’s Lunsford and tapped the ball into the net for his fourth goal of the game.
“We wanted them to get their tails up,” Weiss said. “You want them to get back in the game and be successful, and we just weren’t doing that. When you get them going full out, that’s when you know things are working and you’re successful. That’s a good feeling when that happens.”
Foor’s four tallies led all scorers, while Facemyer added the other Golden Eagle goal. Bogantz had two assists, Facemyer one and Carifa another. Juniors Bradyn Dronsfield, Max Denton and Dominic Zumpone played well on defense, keeping the ball out of the Big Walnut half, giving junior keeper Tyler Sholl an easy second half in net.
“Austin needed the game he had tonight,” Weiss said. “Shane did a nice job settling things down in the middle and Bradyn did a nice job in the center and being patient when he had the ball.”
The Golden Eagles don’t have long to prepare for their next match. Big Walnut travels to the south side of Columbus to face another Mid-State League team, the Hamilton Twp. Rangers, at 7 p.m. Thursday.