Bjornsson's spectacular season highlighted successful fall for Walsingham

Walsingham Academy finished the fall sports season with its boys soccer and volleyball teams each reaching the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association state quarterfinals.

The Trojans' cross country program also had another successful season with the girls' team winning state Catholic meet and Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools titles before finishing second overall at the VISAA Division 2 meet in Fork Union.

Boys soccer

It was one of the best seasons in the last several for Walsingham and one of the most unforgettable in program history thanks in part to an incredible season by senior Solvi Bjornsson.

Bjornsson, an Icelandic exchange-student, tallied an eye-popping 54 goals against a strong slate of independent teams. VISAA officials can't confirm where that single-season mark ranks in state history, but for perspective, the all-time single-season record for goals in the Virginia High School League ranks belongs to James Kasak. Kasak set it last year for Riverheads High with 57 and second place belongs to Patrick Burns of Alleghany with 52, set in 2013.

"He's a goal scorer and that is an usual thing to find," Walsingham coach Richard Plank said. "The other thing that was different this year is we had guys that got him the ball in good places and we had other guys that knew what to do to put him in good situations. When we were at full strength, we had multiple weapons and that made it very difficult for people to defend us…

"It was fun to watch when he got the ball around the 18-yard box. Something was going to happen. It wasn't a matter of whether he was going to score or not, it was when."

The Trojans (16-5-4) often were not at full strength because of injuries, but advanced to the state quarterfinals before dropping a heartbreaker at home on penalty kicks to Trinity at Meadow View. Bjornsson appeared to score the winner in extra time, but the goal was disallowed before the Trojans fell 7-6 in PKs.

Bjornsson, the D2 player of the year, was joined on the all-state team by teammate Connor Norris.

Bornsson, Norris, Bryce Behm, and Kelau Simith each earned first-team all-conference honors.

"We were pleased," Plank said. "We enjoyed the season. I think our parents and our kids had a good time and I think we played a level of soccer we had not. It wasn't just about the winning and losing. I think the level of soccer we played was really good and it was fun to watch our team play."

Volleyball

The word of the season for coach George Bottles was satisfaction.

The Trojans finished a game over .500, but reached the state tournament for the first time in three seasons before eliminating Broadwater Academy and bowing out at Amelia Academy in the quarters.

"The longer I do this, that's all I'm looking for," Bottles said of the sense of satisfaction. "I see that the girls are getting better and I think the program is headed in the right direction…

"We did some things that were kind of surprising. I thought we performed very well against tough competition."

That included winning both matches against Hampton Roads Academy and taking a game from Peninsula Catholic.

Lejla Topcic, a senior from Bosnia and Herzegovina, led Walsingham in kills (3.7 kills per set), aces and digs and landed on the all-conference team.

Seniors Chelsea Marcombe and Ginnie Lynch were also top performers.

"Chelsea is a natural athlete," Bottles said. "Ginnie is just a good stabilizer and played hard all the way around."

Cross country

For the second season in a row, Walsingham's girls claimed state Catholic meet and TCIS championships.

And the Trojans' boys exceeded expectations after losing their top-two runners from last season and finishing third in the state meet.

"Really, the whole team was consistent all year," coach Rich Higgins said.

The girls team, which qualified for the Nike Southeast Regional in North Carolina, was led by sisters Delaney and Frankie Riggs and Grace Vidlak at states. Delaney, a junior, was sixth (20:39) and shortly followed after by her freshman sister while Vidlak, a junior, took 20th.

Each of them was joined on the all-TCIS team by Julia Grimson, Hannah Pickering and Catherine Schumacher.

Only Pickering is a senior, meaning more happy days await for Higgins and Walsingham. There's more help on the way, too. Seventh-grader Emma Lobash won the TCIS and state Catholic junior varsity races.

"All in all, I think they had fabulous seasons," Higgins said. "I think they were consistent throughout the year and worked very hard. It was really an outstanding season."

Field hockey/tennis

The Trojans' field hockey and tennis teams each had players earn all-conference honors.

From field hockey, senior Shelby Julien made the first team and classmate Sydney Griffith was on the second team while freshman Martha Page Norsworthy made second team.

In girls tennis, senior Emily Bowerman was first-team all-conference.

Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.

Copyright © 2017, The Virginia Gazette
50°