BEVERLY HILLS — Hold an opponent scoreless, and you can never lose.
That statement has been a very practical way of life for the Beverly Hills Country Day soccer team in 2013.
And coach Bob Bukari has a good reason why.
“He’s carrying us,” the Yellowjackets’ coach said last week. “He’s kept us in every single game we’ve played.”
Country Day was 7-2-2 at press time and ranked No. 8 in Division 2 by the soccer coaches association.
Can a goaltender really be the reason?
“He’s been that good,” Bukari stressed.
In their 11 games played so far, Bukari said the team has scored just 20 goals. But the seven wins and just two blemishes have come on the heels of eight shutouts by Walker, three by 1-0 counts.
All seven of the team’s wins were shutouts.
“And in a 0-0 tie against an unbeaten (University of Detroit Jesuit team), we probably should have lost 8-0,” Bukari said.
Experience, leadership, a will to succeed: all reasons Walker has thrived as a senior.
“I’m just doing what I think someone in my spot should do,” he said with a shrug. “I’ve got a great defense in front of me; that’s where it all starts. On top of that, I think the experience I have helps, as well.”
Walker is in his fourth season starting for Country Day.
The offseasons have included playing at high-level club and travel teams.
Yet he directs credit away from himself as smoothly as he does opponents scoring chances.
Why is he so successful?
Because of his defense, and his coach, he explained.
Does he feel any extra pressure in “carrying” the team?
“I’m having as much fun as I’ve ever had,” he said with a laugh. “This is the best time of year for me — the time I enjoy the most.”
But is he really carrying the team?
“It’s nice of coach to say that, but he’s probably harder on me than anyone else. He really pushes me,” Walker said with a laugh. “I just feel, as a senior, there are certain expectations and responsibilities you have. I feel like I’m just one of the guys doing his part.”
Bukari said Walker is the kind of kid who loves the role he’s taken on.
“He’s an all-around great student-athlete,” the coach added. “He’s the kind of guy that carries the water buckets off the field or volunteers to do whatever is needed on a daily basis.”
As for his skills between the pipes, “He always makes the big save,” Bukari said. “He’s always in position. He clears every free kick. He was even our third-leading scorer last year.”
Walker scored twice on free kicks from midfield in 2012 and also had a handful of assists.
He’s scored once this year on a free kick from midfield.
But his place is in goal, giving his team a chance every night out.
“If I can keep that score at zero, that’s all we need to win,” Walker, who is set to play at Oakland University next season, said of the approaching playoffs. “That’s all my job is. I have to give us a chance to win.”
“We’re in a very tough district, but you have to believe we have the best keeper,” Bukari said of the postseason. “If he can play his game, we’re going to advance. We’ll have a shot at making a long run.”