Second-half momentum carries Big Walnut girls soccer past Buckeye Valley, 5-1
By ERIC CLINE
For The Sunbury News
Last Thursday’s (September 27) match may just have rekindled the Big Walnut-Buckeye Valley rivalry in girls soccer.
Buckeye Valley was strong in the first half, despite falling behind by a goal, but Big Walnut took momentum in the second half and finished with a 5–1 non-league decision at Buckeye Valley High School.
“We overpowered them a little bit in the second half, but I wouldn’t say this was one of our better games,” Big Walnut coach Jim Reardon said. “I thought we were a little complacent and weren’t working hard at times. It was like we were running in sand, but it’s a win. Nobody asks you how you won, you just say we won. You win some and you lose some, but today was our day.”
Big Walnut (8–5) still had its hands full with the hosts as Buckeye Valley (5–3) outshot the Golden Eagles 13–8 in the first half and 32–25 for the game. The Barons also had 19 shots on goal to Big Walnut’s 17, and held a 3–1 edge in corner kicks.
“We had a very solid first half and I thought we were just as strong in the first seven minutes of the second half,” Buckeye Valley coach Bradd Smiley said. “We took a lot of shots in the early moments of the second half, and if we could have put one of those shots in the back of the net, it would have been a different game, but hats off the Big Walnut.”
“Buckeye Valley played really well in the first half, in fact, they outplayed us,” Reardon said. “We finally put one in near the end of the half, but (junior forward) Skylar Fleak had four or five good shots that their goalkeeper stopped. They’re a good team and they’re well-coached.”
The game was a defensive battle for the first 35 minutes or so, as both teams had chances that the other teams’ back lines were able to repel.
“We’re still pretty strong on defense,” Reardon said. “Every year I’ve done this, I’ve tried to pick the strongest people to play defense, and sometimes we get beat, but we still have the strongest players on our squad playing on the back line, and both our goalkeepers had good halves.”
“We were trying to make adjustments to go against their strong back line,” Smiley said. “They dropped four back on us and took us out of our comfort zones on the front line, but I thought we hit the seams very well, but maybe we just didn’t get enough on our shots here and there.”
Big Walnut finally broke the draw when sophomore defender Makenna Hammond fed a pass to sophomore forward Abby Tabor on the right side of the 18-yard box, and Tabor rifled a shot past Buckeye Valley junior keeper Marisa Sheppard with 4:48 left in the first half, the only goal of the opening 40 minutes.
Buckeye Valley again challenged the Big Walnut defense in the early moments of the second half, getting seven solid chances, three of them on the Golden Eagle net, but senior Jordan Lyle, who took over for junior Mackenzie Pike at the start of the second half, saved all three.
The Barons got another point blank chance shortly after, but senior Taylor Hyatt’s shot hit the left post. Big Walnut took the ball the other way, but a lead pass into the box got past both Sheppard and senior defender Marisa Koss, and Golden Eagle senior forward Ashley Meade picked up the loose ball and scored with 33:02 left in the match.
Big Walnut added its third goal less than a minute later. Fleak took a pass from senior midfielder Bethany Bogantz and fired, but Sheppard made the save. The rebound, however, came out to junior midfielder Bailey Armstrong, who deposited in the net with 32:29 left.
Buckeye Valley got that goal back less than five minutes later when junior Alyssa Spencer crossed a ball into middle of the six-yard box to sophomore Maddie Oberle, who put it past Lyle with 27:46 remaining.
But Big Walnut made it a three-goal advantage again when Meade scored off a Buckeye Valley deflection five minutes later, and ended the scoring with 15:13 to play when Fleak ripped a shot by senior keeper Shannon Steinke from 25 yards out.
Pike finished with seven saves in the first half and Lyle with 11 in the second for Big Walnut. Both Sheppard and Steinke each had six saves for the Barons.
NEW ALBANY 3, BIG WALNUT 0 — The visiting Eagles scored a pair of second half goals, adding to an opening-half goal, en route to last Tuesday’s (September 25) 3–0 Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division decision over the host Golden Eagles in Sunbury.
Counting goals for division-leading New Albany (5–2-2, 4–0-0 OCC) were Emily Makowski, Danielle Dixson and Sam Damante.
“We missed some opportunities,” Big Walnut head coach Jim Reardon said after watching his team drop to 7–5-0 overall and to 2–2-0 in the conference. “We missed a penalty kick, missed some shots, but New Albany is a strong team. You win some, you lose some, I guess.”
New Albany goalkeeper Meghan Jayes recorded 5 saves in the Eagle net for the shutout. The Golden Eagles’ Jordan Lyle and Mackenzie Pike combined for eight saves in the Big Walnut goal.