By Gary R. Rasberry
FINDLAY -- The Celina boys soccer team saw its season end on Thursday, falling to the Findlay Trojans 5-3 in the Division I sectional final at Graham Memorial Soccer Stadium.
The top-seeded Trojans (14-2-1) now play Perrysburg on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the district semifinal at Findlay. Perrysburg won Thursday's first match 3-1 over Bowling Green.
"They're a great passing team," said Celina coach Bruce Strine. "Nothing against Findlay, they're a great program. If you would have told me we would score three goals against Findlay before the game, I'd say we won the game. Obviously, you can't win a game giving up five goals."
The Bulldogs (12-3-2), who lost earlier this season to the Trojans, had a tough start as Findlay worked the ball around on the pass from the start. Just 90 seconds into the match, Jon Bowman found Tyler Birchmeier in the box. Birchmeier put the ball just to the left of Matt Leugers at the 38:19 mark to put Findlay up early.
Celina finally worked through the (Continued from page 1B)
pressure and evened the score with under 30 minutes left. Brian Dorsten took a pass and dribbled in from 30 yards out to put it past Findlay keeper Josh Kern at the 29:23 mark to tie the score.
Findlay, or more to the point, Birchmeier, was not finished in the first half. With the clock going under 19 minutes to play, Steffen Shannon crossed a pass to Birchmeier, who put it past Leugers for his second goal of the half.
Nine minutes later, Birchmeier added an exclamation point to the first half, taking a pass from Justin Bohnlein and putting it past Leugers from 30 yards out to get the hat trick to make it 3-1 going into the half.
Celina got a bit of a revival 10 minutes into the second half. Dorsten set up from over 40 yards out and put it past Kern with 30:03 to go in the match to cut the Trojan lead to 3-2.
The Bulldogs tried its hardest to square the match, but Findlay's ball-handling kept Celina from getting any real decent looks at the net.
Findlay got some insurance with 20 1/2 minutes left in the match. This time Birchmeier played contributor to one of his assist givers, firing a corner kick inside to Bohnlein, who headed it past Leugers with 20:24 remaining to make it 4-2.
Shannon got a goal of his own three minutes later, taking a crossing pass from Bohnlein.
Celina tried to get some late-match heroics in the final four minutes. Dorsten, playing in his final match, completed the hat trick off the crossing pass from Kaleb Menchhofer with 3:27 left in the match to make it 5-3. The Bulldogs turned up the pressure to try and get closer, but Findlay held on until the final whistle.
"I can't fault the effort at all," said Strine. "I always say teams win games and coaches lose games. I told the guys I'll take responsibility for this loss. I saw some breakdowns defensively toward the end of the year where we started ball-watching instead of man-marking and it started costing us some games. I should have spent more time in practice emphasizing the importance of man-marking. That's how they got us.
I told the team 'No regrets.'. It's been a great season. I've enjoyed coaching the seniors for four years. It's been a great run. I'm happy. I'm disappointed in my coaching, but I'm happy with the guys."