By Michael Rich
After a back-and-forth battle in the first half, freshman Julia Francis scored her first-career goal to break a scoreless tie almost seven minutes into the second half and give Olentangy a 1-0 OCC-Capital Division win over host Big Walnut Tuesday in Sunbury.
Senior Maddy Bull used her speed on a lead pass to collect the ball on the left side, then found Francis in front of net 6:43 into the final half.
“(Bull) has so much determination,” Olentangy coach Megan Kirsten said. “She didn’t start last week and then kicked butt in practice. That’s how she is on the field … she gets beat once and it’s not going to happen again.”
“When I saw that my angle wasn’t perfect, I looked up and saw runners in (front of goal) and I thought that was a perfect slot ball back to Julia,” Bull said. “The timing on her run was perfect and that was all up to her. I didn’t have the shot and she did.”
Olentangy kept possession through much of the second half.
“I think as the game went on we were smarter about the balls we were playing,” Bull said. “We made runs in instead of taking the ball wide, and we were way smarter about where we were going and our movement off the ball.”
Olentangy senior goalie Kelsey Hill turned a mistake into a game-saver when she turned the ball over to Bailey Bodker and then made a leaping save from almost point-blank distance to prevent the tying goal with about five minutes left in the game. It was her only save of the second half after five in the first.
“She gives a lot of our girls confidence just being back there,” Kirsten said. “She saves our butt a lot of the time.”
Big Walnut was forced to use both varsity goalies in the JV game because of an injury, and after starter Colleen White turned in a six-save performance at the half, Eagles coach Drew Pitzer had to replace her with junior Jordan Foxworthy.
“I give them credit, they (the Braves) played a great game,” Pitzer said. “But at the same time, I don’t think it was anything that they were doing that gave us problems … it was what we weren’t doing. The energy and effort wasn’t there tonight. If you watched our first two games, we just outhustled everybody. That just wasn’t the case tonight.”
Pitzer thought that Olentangy wanted the win more. It was an evenly matched back-and-forth game in the first half, but Olentangy outshot the Eagles 8-2 in the second.
“I’ve been here for four years and we’ve never beat them,” he said. “I think Olentangy scares them a little bit still. We’re never going to be who we want to be until we can get over who somebody’s name is.”
Sophomore Kelly Kreager led BW with three shots on goal.
Big Walnut hosts Westerville Central on Thursday while Olentangy travels to Marysville. Both games are scheduled for 7:15 p.m.
Orange 3, New Albany 0
Taylor Foreman, Avery Lichtenberg and Alaina Foy found the back of the net as Orange rolled to a 3-0 OCC-Capital Division win Tuesday against visiting New Albany.
Hannah Sargent anchored the defense with a pair of saves in the Pioneer (2-0-1) goal.
Also: Liberty 8, Central Crossing 0.
Liberty 6, Central Crossing 0
Ohio Wesleyan 7, Earlham 0
Ohio Wesleyan 3, Washington & Jefferson 3
Bluffton 3, Ohio Wesleyan 1
WOMEN’S FIELD HOCKEY
Kenyon 4, Ohio Wesleyan 0
Follow Michael Rich on Twitter @mrichdelgazette.