By Gary R. Rasberry
The regular season finale for both the Celina boys and girls soccer team were home finales as well on Saturday afternoon at the Celina Soccer Stadium.
While the girls struggled with a tough Xenia team in the nightcap to the day in soccer, the Bulldogs boys gave the fans that braved the cold, wind and rain a victory.
Trailing 0-2 with 25 minutes left in the game, the Bulldog boys scored three times in a span of 14 minutes to beat Toledo Central Catholic 3-2 to improve their record to 5-9-2.
"The guys worked hard and never quit," said boys coach Bruce Strine. "It's good to come back with tournament starting Monday. It's a big win."
The Lady Bulldogs dipped below .500 to 6-7-3 as the Buccaneers won a 4-0 game. Both the boys and girls teams start sectional tournaments this week, with the boys facing Kenton tonight at 7 p.m. at Elida Middle School.
Celina boys 3, TCC 2
The Bulldogs trailed 1-0 at the break, handling the heavy pressure well the Irish threw at them. TCC tried 10 shots in the first 40 minutes. Celina keeper Mark Hopf made six saves but did not play in the second half due to a nagging knee injury.
Dave Skoczyn came in to play the second half and gave up a goal to Ryan Lashway with 26:54 remaining in the game to put TCC up two.
The Bulldogs finally got a shot to score with less then 22 minutes to go when Eric Klosterman was taken down in the goal box, resulting in a penalty kick. Klosterman, the main kicker for the Bulldogs, took the kick and put it past Irish keeper Robert Courtney with 21:20 left in the game to halve the lead.
"It was a good call," said Strine. "I was watching Eric on the round and he got pushed in the back. He's our best PK (penalty kicker). He's a senior and he deserves it."
Celina buckled down on defense as TCC had just four clean shots to the goal in the second half. With the clock under 15 minutes remaining, Eric Loughridge fired a shot that Courtney tipped away. However, Nick Grieshop ran the rebound down and put it in the goal with 14:21 remaining to tie the match up.
The game-winner came with 7:26 remaining in the game as Celina turned up the heat on the Irish. Klosterman came through, firing a perfect past to Brian Dorsten in the box. Dorsten found the perfect boot to put the ball in the goal to give Celina the lead.
"It was a picture-perfect play," said Strine.
TCC tried to come back quick and tie the game, but Celina was able to keep the Irish from getting any looks at the Celina net.
"We're pretty young on defense," said Strine. "We have four sophomores back there. They're getting stronger and stronger. Our problem has not been defense, it's been scoring. Today, it feels good to break out of the slump we've been in."
TCC falls to 7-9 on the season.
Xenia 4, Celina girls 0
The Bulldogs had a tough chore ahead of them in facing a Buccs team that came in 11-3-1 on the season and beat state-ranked Beavercreek.
The Buccs tried 20 shots on goal to Celina's two and coach Dean Liggett knew Xenia was tough and chalked the game up to getting ready for tournament action.
"We know Xenia is good and has always had a good program," said Liggett. "It's always been a game where we look at it as one to get ready for tournament. You hope you can be competitive in the first half."
The Bulldogs stood tough in the first half save for a pair of defensive lapses. Both times, Heather Harrison took advantage and scored a pair of unassisted goals within a span of two minutes that made the score 2-0 at the half.
"We were competitive. I thought we could be up 1-0 at the half," said Liggett. "They got both their goals off two very bad defensive mistakes for us. We had an opportunity to finish a corner (kick) off in the first half and the keeper comes up and makes the save on it."
Xenia picked up two more goals in the second half. Candice Shelton scored on an unassisted shot with 19:48 remaining in the game and Harrison earned the hat trick with a goal with 16 minutes left.
"Momentum is a powerful thing," said Liggett. "Unfortunately for us, they got it early and never looked back."
Celina opens its tournament play on Wednesday when the Bulldogs play Fremont Ross in sectional action at 5 p.m. in Findlay.