By Michael Rich
Coach Drew Pitzer has never been more proud of his Big Walnut girls soccer team.
And why not?
Forward Kelly Kreager provided both goals and goalie Colleen White made two key saves down the stretch to preserve a 2-0 upset win at second-seeded Bloom Carroll in a Division II district semifinal at Carl Fell Stadium Wednesday night.
Kreager scored the first goal from about 10 yards out to break a scoreless tie just under 15 minutes into the game.
“Kelly is a monster,” Pitzer said. “Kelly is disliked by every visiting team. You play against Kelly, you hate her … you play with Kelly, you love her. She’s got more heart than most girls I’ve ever coached.”
She found the net again on a loose ball that bounced around before she cleaned it up from in front with 19:38 remaining in the first half.
“It’s was a great feeling … it’s a major adrenaline rush,” Kreager said. “You don’t have to think about it, you just shoot. It was a header by Bailey Bodker and it was kind of there, I just helped it go in.”
White took over in the second half. She made just two saves in the game, but both were diving stops one-on-one.
Forward Miranda Frear got by the Golden Eagle defense and White was there as the last line of defense. White made a diving stop to stone Frear and preserve the two-goal lead about seven and a half minutes into the second half.
She made a similar save almost 15 minutes later as another Bulldog got by the defense.
“She had two saves, but they were the two biggest saves of her career,” Pitzer said. “That’s just a senior saying, ‘I’m not done.’ She made me look like a really good coach.”
The Golden Eagles have now handed the Bulldogs their only two losses of the season. The Eagles won a 2-0 decision at Bloom-Carroll (14-2-2) Aug. 27.
“It helped to bring up our energy and confidence and (it’s) just a great feeling to come back and do the same thing,” Kreager said.
The Bulldogs ran off an eight-game winning streak afterward, while Big Walnut won just one of its next six games.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” Pitzer said. “It just culminated (Wednesday) with some amazing stuff. This group of girls — they love each other — they love playing for each other. That’s what’s pushing them right now (and) I get to stand back and watch.”
Big Walnut faces top-seeded Granville in the district final at Canal Winchester Saturday at 4 p.m.
Also: Hartley 5, Buckeye Valley 0.
Junior Oliver Person scored in the first 10 minutes and sophomore Wes Collins hammered home the equalizer with two minutes left in regulation, but visiting Westerville South scored a golden goal in the second overtime period to earn a 3-2 Division I district semifinal win over Liberty Wednesday in Powell.
After the Patriots saw the better of the teams’ chances come and go in the first OT, the Wildcats cashed in when Jason Himes scored off a corner kick with 4:53 left in the second.
Also: Gahanna 2, Olentangy 1, OT.
The Braves lost the first set, but rolled from that point on to earn a Division I district final birth Wednesday at Whitehall-Yearling High School.
After falling 16-25 in the first set of its semifinal showdown against Capital Division rival New Albany, Olentangy rebounded with a 25-17 win in the second before sealing the deal with wins of 25-15 and 25-18.
Megan Cochran led the Braves with eight kills while four others added seven kills apiece. Zoe Miller was also solid, finishing with a team-best 23 digs and five aces.
With the win, Olentangy advances to Saturday’s district final against DeSales back in Whitehall.
Watterson 3, Big Walnut 0
Elena DeJaco and Caroline Leitch did exactly what their teammates and coaches expected them to during Wednesday’s Division I district semifinal against Big Walnut: lead.
The senior captains combined for 25 kills to send Watterson to a 25-23, 25-14, 25-21 victory at Bloom-Carroll High School.
DeJaco had been battling pneumonia over the past couple of weeks had only been able to attend one and a half practices leading up to the matchup, according to coach Max Miller. She had 12 kills, while Leitch finished with 13.
Big Walnut (15-10) had a 21-16 lead in the first set thanks in part to six kills by senior Jessica Ruffing.
“If we would have hung on and won the first set, who knows, it might have been different,” Big Walnut coach Ron Lehman said. “We got caught in a bad rotation at the end of set one and then it probably took something out of our girls.”
Ruffing finished with a game-high 16 kills.
Josie Vondran had 33 assists for Watterson (16-8).
“She played great,” Lehman said. “She hit it really, really well.
The meeting was the second between the two teams this fall. Watterson won 3-1 at Big Walnut Sept. 21.
Sports Editor Ben Stroup contributed to this report.