By Gary R. Rasberry
Not to be outdone by their male counterparts, the Celina girls soccer team looked to keep their winning ways going on Monday in the first Western Buckeye League match of the season against Shawnee.
Just like the boys did over the weekend, the Bulldogs got the scoring started early and played solid defense the rest of the way.
Celina improved to 5-0 on the season with a 1-0 shutout of the Indians at the Celina Soccer Stadium. Shawnee is now 3-3 on the season and 1-1 in the WBL.
The win continues a hot start for the team that now has four shutouts in the five matches thus far. The only team to score on Celina was Piqua, which Celina beat 3-2 on Sept. 3. The Bulldogs have outscored their opponents 19-2 this season.
"Tonight matched two teams who like to go at it," said Celina coach Cal Freeman. "I thought we matched up pretty well with them, as far as speed, physical ability and ball skills." It didn't take long for the Bulldogs to go on the attack. The first Celina shot went off the cross bar, but Rachel Schollmeier was right on the rebound and kicked it past Indians keeper Bethani Corbett for the 1-0 lead with just 1:43 gone in the game.
"We were very fortunate to punch one in with under a couple of minutes gone in the game," said Freeman.
"The last four games, we've had slow starts. One of the things we've worked on is to pick it up at the beginning of the game. A good follow-through by Rachel Schollmeier, put it back in the right side of the net. That was the whole difference in the game."
That goal stood up as both teams' defense stiffened for the final 78 minutes of play. Shawnee showed their aggression in going to the Celina goal, but Allison Braun made four big saves in the first half as Shawnee tried 10 shots.
In the second half, Freeman went to his strong goalie rotation and brought Laura Kuhn into goal while Braun switched from a keeper's jersey to a white number 22.
Kuhn saw six shots near the goal, saving four to preserve the shutout.
"That's what we've been doing all year," said Freeman of the keeper platoon. "Both girls have stepped up this year and played some defense. They know that's what they do and they take a turn. Both have played well stopping the ball and stopping some shots."
Shawnee had one clear chance of scoring when Valerie Courter had a direct kick just outside the box after getting fouled but the boot went wide of the goal and Celina recovered.
"We held. Our defense played very, very well," said Freeman. "(Shawnee) likes the give-and-go a lot. They're a very good team. Our girls played really hard. I'm proud of them."
The Bulldogs did suffer a loss when Lindsey Schmitmeyer suffered a knee injury after colliding with a Shawnee player. Schmitmeyer was carried off the field and went immediately to a medical facility for examination. The extent of the injury was not known as of press time.
"I hope that it's not as bad as it appeared to be on the field," said Freeman.
In the junior varsity match, Celina won 3-1. Jenna Reineke, Laura Axe and Shelbi Nation each had goals for the jayvee Bulldogs.
Celina is at Kenton on Thursday for a WBL match. The Bulldogs return home on Saturday as soccer will be an all-day event at the Soccer Stadium. The girls will play Bluffton starting with the junior varsity at 11 a.m. and varsity at around 1 p.m. The Celina boys will play Bluffton starting with the jayvees at 5 p.m. and varsity at 7 p.m.