|Title:||Head Women's Soccer Coach|
Benji Walton was named Head Women’s Soccer Coach at Birmingham-Southern College on December 15, 2006. He was brought in to continue the legacy of excellence that has found the women’s soccer program at BSC since its inception in 1995. He brings ample experience and unyielding passion, which will remain important, as BSC has concluded its transitional period from NCAA Division I to Division III. During the transition, his aim was to keep the program stable and also maintain a level of excellence and build a program that can compete for NCAA Division III championships immediately.
In Walton’s first four years at Birmingham-Southern, the Panthers have gone 47-27-2, a .632 winning percentage. In his first season, the Panthers went 12-6, including an impressive 7-3 record against Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) opponents. The team recorded some big wins over several NCAA Division I foes, including Nichols State (3-0) and former Big South Conference rival UNC Ashville (3-1). In fact, with the wins over Nichols and UNCA, BSC won the Gardner-Webb Classic as the only non Division I team participating.
In 2008, the Panthers had another outstanding season as they went 11-6-2 with a 6-3-1 record against SCAC opponents. The team recorded notable wins over Auburn University Montgomery (4-0), perennial Great South Conference champion Maryville College (3-2), NCAA Division I opponent Alabama State (9-0), and SCAC champion and 17th-ranked Rhodes College (1-0). The Panthers finished the second half of the 2008 campaign on a tear, going 7-2 in their last nine games, scoring 22 goals and only allowing six during that span. They also finished the season leading the conference with a four-game winning streak.
In 2009, the Panthers tallied their most wins under Walton, completing a 13-7 season. It was their best season in the SCAC, with the team finishing 8-2 against conference opponents, which would have placed them second in the conference in points had the Panthers qualified. BSC had several big come-from-behind wins against some key opponents, including defeating both Sewanee (1-0) and Southwestern (3-2) in overtime. They had two season-changing wins against Hawai’i Pacific University (2-1) and Maryville College (4-2) that helped the Panthers finish the second half of the season 7-3, finishing the year on a three-game win streak.
In 2010, the Panthers had yet another winning season, accruing an 11-8 record. The year was highlighted by a 2-1 win over Auburn University Montgomery, who was ranked 21st the NAIA at that time. Furthermore, three of Walton’s players were named to All-SCAC teams at the end of the season. Alicia Plotky and Linda Amaya were named to the First Team, while Brittany Soto was named to the Second Team.
Prior to coming to Birmingham-Southern, Walton spent four seasons at the helm of the Limestone College women’s soccer squad, a NCAA Division II program located in Gaffney, S.C. At LC, Walton accumulated a 28-41-5 career record, including an 8-6-5 showing in 2006. His tenure at Limestone was a time of rebuilding a program that had been hit with a loss of players during a coaching transition. In 2003, he inherited only 13 players in his first season at the helm. Each year the program began to build respectability in the CVAC conference as well as in the region. Walton was able to take the Lady Saints from survival mode in 2003 and 2004, when they went a combined 11-25 to regular conference contenders and a consistent above .500 squad in 2006, where they went a combined 17-16-5. In fact, since his first two rebuilding years at Limestone, Walton’s teams were a combined 53-35-7 with a .595 winning percentage.
Prior to coaching at Limestone, Walton was a volunteer assistant at the University of Georgia from the spring of 2002 to the summer of 2003 while earning a Master’s Degree in Sports Administration. With the Bulldogs, Walton was involved with day to day training, scouting, and administrative duties that were necessary to help the coaching staff prepare the team to compete in the very tough Southeastern Conference.
As a head coach Walton has achieved a 75-68-7 winning percentage. In his four years at Limestone, he coached 13 All-Conference Players (Carolina-Virginias Athletic Conference), two NSCAA All-Region Southeast Players, two CVAC Players of the Week, and brought the Lady Saints to three straight Top 6 finishes in the conference. At BSC, Walton’s teams have finished second in the conference twice. He has coached two NSCAA South Atlantic All-Region players (Caitlin Gordon (2007) and Lydia Rice (2009)), three CoSIDA Academic All District players (Serena Murphy (2008), Murphy and Rice (2009)), five NSCAA Scholar All-Region players (Gordon (2007), Rice (2009), and Brittany Soto, Lauren Metzger and Linda Amaya (2010)). He also has coached two NSCAA Academic All-Americans (Gordon (2007) and Rice (2009)). His teams have earned four NSCAA Team Academic Awards, including a 2007 squad which achieved a team GPA of 3.57 which ranked as the fifth-highest GPA for any women’s soccer program in the nation at any level.
Walton, a native of Lawrenceville, Ga., was a four-year starter on the men’s soccer team at Reinhardt College in Waleska, Ga., where he served as team captain for three consecutives seasons, including 1998, when the Eagles finished second in the nation with a 21-1-1 record. In his senior season at Reinhardt, Walton was awarded Georgia-Alabama-Carolina Second-Team All-Conference, NCCAA South First-Team All-Conference, and NCCAA All-American Honorable Mention honors. He graduated with a degree in business administration in 2001.