By Gary R. Rasberry
ST. MARYS -- Celina set the tone early by attacking the goal, coming away from its annual rivalry battle with St. Marys with a 2-0 win over the Roughriders at West Elementary School in St. Marys in the first Western Buckeye League match of the season for both teams.
The Bulldogs stand at 2-1-0 on the season and 1-0-0 in the WBL while the Roughriders drop to 1-1-0 overall and 0-1-0 in league play.
Celina used its speed to control the game and kept St. Marys from getting any significant time on its side of the field. Celina peppered 10 shots at Roughrider keeper Dan Imwalle early, but most were off the mark and not much of a threat.
The breakthrough came with just over 12 minutes left to go in the first half. Kyle White broke through the St. Marys defense and put one past Imwalle for what proved to be the game-winner.
"We made some change-ups because we were disappointed with our scoring against Findlay," said Celina coach Bruce Strine. "I thought we had some opportunities we missed. We moved White from the outside to the top. He looked good today." St. Marys had just three shots on goal in the first half, but made the most of the chances. The best chance to score came with 24 minutes to go in the half as Geoff Hiskey was right in front of the goal, but the ball caromed off the crossbar. A rebound attempt was saved by Celina goalkeeper Matt Leugers.
"I'm pleased," said Strine. "Offensively, we had a lot of looks at the goal. We can certainly grow from here when it comes to finishing: crossbars and dribbling into the keeper. But we know this is a great rivalry and we knew it was going to be a tough game.
"St. Marys had a nice shot and it hit the crossbar. (Hiskey) did a fantastic job on that shot."
In the second half, Celina continued to keep up the pressure on the Roughrider defense. Finally with 18 minutes left, Jason Dammeyer found Chris Post with a pass, and Post slammed one to the back of the net to make it 2-0 in favor of the Bulldogs.
St. Marys wasn't about to give up and worked feverishly to try and score a consolation goal. In the final six minutes of the game, the Roughriders had six good chances on goal, only to see the shot be off the mark or have Leugers, who had seven saves on the night, make the stop.
"He made some nice stops," said Strine of his keeper. "It was nice to get him some action."
"We played well. I can't complain," said St. Marys coach Dave Ring. "Coming into the game, goaltending was a question mark. I don't think it's a question mark now (Imwalle had nine saves). We played really well. ... Once we got to where we knew we could play, we had our chances the last 15 minutes of the game. Couldn't ask for more."
The junior varsity match ended in a 2-2 tie.
Celina returns to action on Saturday, hosting Kalida at the Soccer Stadium. St. Marys travels to Greenville on Saturday.