The women’s soccer team at Kennesaw State University pulled out a 3-2 victory against Middle Tennessee State University in a scrimmage game Thursday, Aug. 11.
Even though it wasn’t a regular season game, it was the first game — and the first victory — for Benji Walton, the new head coach of soccer at KSU.
The Brookwood High School alum enters his 14th season as a coach in collegiate women’s soccer, after serving three years as an assistant at Indiana University, which followed six years as the head coach at Birmingham-Southern College, and four years at Limestone College in Gaffney, South Carolina.
“I’ve always been an admirer of this institution, and when I saw it open – being from Atlanta and growing up in this area – when Kennesaw State was available, I said ‘I got to go for it,’” Walton said.
After graduating from BHS in Snellville, Georgia, Walton went onto play locally at Reinhardt College. As senior member of the Eagles, he helped lead his team to an overall record of 21-1-1, for which Walton will be inducted into the Reinhardt Athletics’ Hall of Fame on Sept. 30.
“Very rarely are you a part of something where everyone is on the same page and truly puts the greater good of the team ahead of themselves and that is exactly what this team was about,” Walton said. “It was 21 guys who were more than teammates… We were like brothers and to this day, some 18 years later I am still extremely close to these guys.”
Now as the head coach of KSU, Walton leads a squad which features A-SUN all-conference midfielder Brittney Reed, who began in 2015 scoring six goals in the season opener against Alabama A&M. Reed would suffer a season-ending knee injury against University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, just three games into the season, yet she still finished second on the team with 15 points on seven goals and one assist.
Joining Reed leading the team is junior defender Ida Hepsoe who was named to the A-SUN all-conference 2nd team in 2015, and senior forward Maggie Gaughan who was named to the all-conference team preseason team the same year.
After the scrimmage game against MTSU, coach Walton expressed that, although the win doesn’t count in the standings, it does count toward building confidence.
“Kennesaw State women’s soccer has a tremendous tradition of success,” Walton said. “I look forward to leading this team into the next chapter of women’s soccer at KSU and continuing to build on that tradition.”
KSU will host its opener on Monday, Aug. 22 against Georgia State University at 7 p.m.