By MARC TOBIAS
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Celina boy’s soccer
squad, as it saw a 1-0 lead with five minutes to play result
in a 2-1 loss to Bluffton.
Both Bluffton goals came off corner kicks, the second with just
over a minute to play.
“Whether it’s conditioning I don’t know, I’m
kind of still reeling from what just happened out here,”
said Celina coach Bruce Strine. “I told them this is a
very disappointing loss, we work hard all game only to have
it in the last few minutes taken away from us like that. I told
them I hope it sits deep in their belly for Elida on Monday,
because maybe it will be a motivator for us to come out here
and play the full 40 (minutes) in the second half.”
Bluffton tied the score when Ethan Reichenbach was able to head
in a deflection off a corner kick for the Pirates first goal.
Moments later, Bluffton looked as if it was going to go up 2-1
when Celina was whistled for a foul in the penalty box, giving
the Pirates Matt Diller a penalty kick with 1:42 left to play.
When Diller’s penalty shot went off the crossbar though
it looked as if Celina had dodged a major bullet.
The ensuing scramble for the ball went over the Bulldogs’
end line though for a corner kick.
Bluffton’s Colin Dyck hit a terrific header that looked
certain to score, but the Bulldogs Nick Uhlenhake made a terrific
diving stab to keep the ball out of the net.
The rebound went directly to Diller though, and he atoned for
his earlier miss by sticking the rebound into the back of the
net for the game-winning goal. Celina’s Eric Braun nearly
kept the ball out of the goal as he headed a piece of the ball
deflecting its path, but he wasn’t able to get quite enough
of the ball.
“I’m really proud that we came back like that, ordinarily
that’s a game breaker right there,” said Bluffton
coach Dave Fett over his squads missed penalty shot.
“We’re going to change some things on our corners,
we learned some things, and I hope we learned from what just
happened the last 20 minutes of the game when we let down,”
The first half both squads played to a 0-0 tie, and Celina took
the 1-0 lead when the Pirates Tyler Gleason fouled Alex McKirnan
inside the penalty box.
Kyle Grunden then stepped up and drilled the penalty kick past
Bluffton keeper Aaron Yoakum.
Celina may have hurt themselves the most by not scoring in the
first 20 minutes when it had some nice opportunities.
Brady Heyne having a shot that went off the post and McKirnan
getting whistled for an offside foul were two of the Bulldogs
better scoring chances.
Celina falls to 4-4 on the season and will get ready for its
Western Buckeye League match with Elida later today. The Bulldogs
will most likely need to win if they want to keep their league
title hopes alive. Bluffton moves to 3-3-1 on the season.