ELYRIA – The Wellington Dukes remained on their early season roll, but just barely, as they edged Elyria Catholic 1-0 Saturday afternoon.
Winners of their first two games by a combined 15-0 score, the senior-laden Dukes seemed to be in control most of the game but couldn’t finish their opportunities until a sophomore stepped up. Forward Nick Dowdell scored the game’s lone goal with 11:31 remaining in the second half off an assist from senior Kyle Bartolovich.
Dowdell, who now has five goals on the season, described his game winner: “I just saw it coming across from Kyle. I had thought he was going to put it in, but I chested it and saw the keeper come out so I laid it to the bottom of the post on the ground.
“EC has a really good team,” Dowdell said. “Coming here I thought it would be about 1-0, very close. I expected a really good game.”
And that’s what the 3-0 Dukes got. Their experience may have been the difference as they started nine seniors. The Panthers, on the other hand, started four sophomores.
While Elyria Catholic took the game into Wellington territory at the beginning of each half, the Dukes seemed to turn it around after that.
“I knew our advantage was conditioning,” Wellington coach Bill Bogan said. “The first few minutes of each half were pretty even, but in the latter part of each half we saw our conditioning and senior experience take over. They’re (EC) a young team and their time is coming.”
“I thought we had a strong offense that could string a series of passes together to put one goal in,” Bogan said. “We had some great opportunities but lost our composure on the shot. We kept putting shots wide or over. But I thought one of them was bound to go in.”
Elyria Catholic certainly had its chances. David Elwer, who scored three times against Elyria earlier in the week, sent a wide-open shot off the post barely six minutes into the game and Taylor Millar missed another great opportunity 12 minutes later. Finally Ryan Lutke had a shot from 20 feet blocked by Duke keeper Mike Hicks with 6:25 left to play in the first half.
Hicks recorded his third shutout Saturday despite taking a blow to the head early in the game.
“I was hit in the side of the head and it knocked me out cold for a minute,” he said. “But I got back in it since my team needed me.”
But Hicks seemed more eager to talk about his defenders.
“Brendan Rinehart pretty much saves our lives half the time and Willie Pabst and Alex Koenig on the right and left outside are really solid.”
Despite the close game against an experienced team, EC coach Mike Wisnor was down after seeing his team fall to 2-2.
“It was a disappointing effort on our part,” he said. “We missed a breakaway early (Elwer’s shot) and that set the tone for the rest of the match. Both teams had their chances and we simply didn’t convert on ours.
“We played a bit flat today. Coming off a big game on Wednesday (the Elyria Cup match), it’s always a risk to have a letdown. Obviously from a coaching standpoint I wasn’t successful in preventing that.”
Contact Jim Jablonski at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Wellington 1, Elyria Catholic 0
GOALS: (W) Nick Dowdell, 68:29
ASSISTS: (W) Kyle Bartolovich
SHOTS: Wellington 19, Elyria Catholic 13
SAVES: (W) Mike Hicks 9, (EC) Frank Sanabria 8