By Gary R. Rasberry
In soccer, there can be bad ties and good ties.
Celina boys soccer coach Bruce Strine felt that Monday's 1-1 tie with Kenton, stopped at halftime due to excessive lightning, was a bad tie.
Thursday night, Celina got a chance to experience a good tie, especially when it helps them in the Western Buckeye League chase.
Celina gave up a first-half goal to Elida, then got the equalizer at the midway point of the second half to secure yet another 1-1 tie at the Soccer Stadium. Celina improves to 6-2-2 with the win, and more importantly, goes to 3-0-2 in the WBL. Elida, which came into the match 7-1 with the only loss coming to Shawnee in WBL play, falls to 3-1-1.
Strine was happy with the one point the team got for the tie, which means Celina stays ahead of Elida in the standings. "The tie favors us in the WBL," said Strine. "It keeps Elida behind us in the standings. I'm okay in this situation. I wasn't okay with a tie against Kenton.
"I'm okay with a tie here. That's a good team."
Celina had chances to get scores early in the first half. Brian Dorsten got three good looks at the goal in the first 20 minutes of action. One went wide and the other two were smothered by Elida keeper Tyler Ladd. Matt Stetler added another good try that just went wide for Celina.
The best chance came from Adam Hoyng with just over 12 minutes remaining. The shot looked in, but just hit the top of the goal and bounced back into play.
Elida took the rebound and Adam Hofacker dribbled in as Celina keeper Matt Leugers moved out along with the other Celina defenders. Hofacker headed a shot that went over Leugers and into the goal with 11:42 remaining in the half for Elida's goal.
Leugers made up for the rare defensive gaff with extraordinary play in the second half. Elida made eight tries at goal, with Leugers making four saves and dashing out of the box numerous times -- with Elida strikers at full speed coming in -- to grab the ball and send it the other way.
"Leugers played a great game," said Strine. "He made couple of nice saves. I'm certainly not blaming the tie on Leugers. He kept us in the game. I'm pleased with his play."
Celina had difficulty getting any shots on goal in the first 18 minutes of the second half, taking only one shot on goal as Elida tried to keep the ball moving as much as possible.
The chance to score finally came with the time winding down to 21 minutes left in the game. Aaron Schmitt fired a perfect pass to Chris Post, who moved down and fired a crossing shot past Ladd with 21:03 remaining to knot the match up at 1-all.
"(Post) saw the keeper come out and chipped it to the far corner," said Strine. "That was a nice shot by Chris. A lot of people might think he was crossing the ball (passing a ball to a teammate on the other side of the net), but he saw the keeper out and took advantage of that. Chris has been a consistent player for us. Still not scoring, but when you have two good teams out there, it's hard to put any in the net."
Celina notched its defense up one place in the final 20 minutes, not giving Elida much open shots. The box was clogged with white jerseys anytime Elida came close. Celina got some looks at the goal in the last couple of minutes of play, but nothing close enough to shoot.
The game was physical and officials handed out two yellow cards to each team and warned the team about over-aggressiveness.
In the junior varsity match, Celina and Elida played to a scoreless tie.
Celina returns to action at Bath on Tuesday, but play their next two league games against two of the top teams in the league, Ottawa-Glandorf on Oct. 3 and Defiance on Oct. 6. Both games are at Celina.
"We stay a point ahead of (Elida), that's very important," said Strine. "We have Defiance and they have Defiance. I believe they still have OG and we have OG. It's going to be down to the wire."