By Gary R. Rasberry
Celina completed its league boys soccer schedule in style with a 3-0 win over Wapakoneta on senior night at the Soccer Stadium.
The Bulldogs (10-2-2) close out Western Buckeye League play at 7-1-1, taking second place after Shawnee beat Kenton to capture sole possession of the WBL title. The Redskins drop to 3-12-1 and finish 2-7 in the WBL.
"There were only two teams in the league that scored on us," said Celina coach Bruce Strine, referring to Defiance (one) and Shawnee (three). "Second place, one loss and one tie. It's not where we wanted to be. We didn't meet our goal of winning back-to-back WBL titles, but we're starting to ramp up for the tournament. It was a good showing for us."
After having a bit of a shutdown against Shawnee on Tuesday, Celina was back into form attacking the goal. Celina had 23 shots on goal -- 12 in the first half.
"We got a lot of looks at the goal," said Strine. "Their keeper made some nice saves. He did a nice job for them." With Celina's 12 seniors getting honored, it was appropriate that the first two goals were by seniors.
With the clock under 30 minutes to go in the first half, Chris Post booted a corner kick inside the box, where Eric Loughridge planted and booted the ball into the net for the first Bulldog goal of the night.
Nearly 12 minutes later, Andy Sell set up nearly 30 yards from the goal, finding just enough opening past the Redskin keeper to score with 17:55 to go to make the score 2-0, which it would remain until the half.
The chilled air may have played a part in keeping the score down in the second half, as well as making for a strange finish to Celina's third goal. Kaleb Menchhofer appeared to have put the ball just to the left of the net as the ball rolled back to the blocking net behind the goal, but officials stopped play and signaled for the ball to go back to the center, indicating a goal. Apparently the ball went in and slipped through an opening inside the net, giving Menchhofer the goal.
Again, the Bulldog defense shined in getting the seventh shutout in nine league matches this season. Wapak did not record a shot on goal until late in the second half, allowing keeper Matt Leugers to record a save.
"That's always my emphasis. I know more about defensive sets than offensive sets," said Strine. "Defense wins tournament games. That's what we're hoping for starting Monday. We're hoping our defense steps up, but our offense also needs to step up."
Celina also captured the junior varsity match with a 1-0 win over Wapak. Keith Grieshop scored off a Derek Pryer assist.
Celina has one more regular season match before Monday's tournament match against Fremont Ross in Findlay. Toledo Central Catholic comes to Celina on Saturday for a 10 a.m. junior varsity start.