By Gary R. Rasberry
WAPAKONETA -- To keep its hopes for a Western Buckeye League boys soccer title, Celina had to do its part and beat Wapakoneta and then hope for a Defiance loss.
The Bulldogs made sure their part of the bargain was fulfilled, scoring three times in the first half to get a 5-0 win over the Redskins at Ryan Field on Thursday to finish the WBL season 7-0-2.
In the closing minutes of the match, word filtered out that Ottawa-Glandorf was beating Defiance 2-1 in Ottawa, sending the large Celina contingent into a frenzy.
Just as the match ended in Wapak, the final score of 2-1 in favor of O-G was confirmed, sending Celina players into celebration as a few fans stormed the field in joyful exuberance as the Bulldogs captured their first WBL title in the sport since 1997.
"It feels good," said senior co-captain David Skoczyn, whose dad Dave coached the 1997 team to the title. "It showed the guys here that we worked during the summer. We set goals at the beginning of the year and we were looking to get a WBL championship. We got what we wanted." "We worked hard all year," said Celina coach Bruce Strine. "Tonight is just great for the guys, great for the program. I'm just so happy for the Celina High School soccer program. It's a great gift we're giving the seniors this year."
Things looked like they would go Wapak's (4-12-0, 2-7-0) way in the opening minutes when Celina (11-2-2) was called for taking down Yoshi Kogure in the penalty box. Brian Faller went in to take the penalty kick at 33:53 and kicked to the right. Celina keeper Matt Leugers made the big (Continued from page 1B)
stop and sent the ball down field.
"That PK save by Leugers at the beginning of the game was big," said Strine. "They could have gained them momentum. He made a great save to preserve a fifth straight shutout and 10th all season."
It didn't take long for Celina to score after the kick. Aaron Schmitt caught the ball with a header and put it past Redskin keeper Dominic Imondi at the 32:46 mark to put Celina up for good. Three minutes later, Chris Post charged inside after a Celina shot bounced back. Post got the bounce and kicked in to make it 2-0.
With eight minutes left, Kyle White got a breakaway, putting the ball into the net to make it 3-0 as Celina peppered the Wapak goal with 10 shots and five corner kicks in the half.
"We talked about that," said Strine. "This would be a game to play below the level we needed to play. They came out and put pressure right away."
The second half remained intense. Post got his second goal of the night at the 23:51 mark with another rebound shot. Nearly a minute later, Adam Hoyng got into the act with a rebound shot that went in to complete the score.
The intensity resulted in some hard hits as well. Celina was hit with three yellow cards in the second half.
The win wrapped up a solid finish to a great season. After Celina went one week with ties to Kenton -- a match that was halted at the half due to lightning and called an official match -- and to Elida, the Bulldogs responded, beating O-G on a Monday night, then shocking Defiance 1-0 at home to from from third to second with the chance to take the league the next week.
"They just looked inside, and knew that this is what they wanted," said Strine. "That's why I am happy for them. They haven't experienced this since 1997. What a better group of guys to give it to -- and to earn it."
Celina's junior varsity also went unbeaten in WBL action after winning the prelim 3-0.
After playing the regular season finale on Saturday at Toledo Central Catholic, the Bulldogs open Division I sectional play at Findlay against Bowling Green.
And Thursday's win will be a big boost to the team going into the second season.
"We're confident going in, not overconfident," said Strine. "We think we could be a sleeper in the tournament this year. We're looking to come out Monday against Bowling Green."