It took less than 10 minutes for the tide to turn.
And turn it did.
The Celina Bulldogs scored three goals in a span of 9:19 to pull out a 3-2 win over the Wapakoneta Redskins in a Western Buckeye League varsity boys soccer match Tuesday at Ryan Field.
Trailing 1-0 late in the first half, Celina tied it at the 10:07 mark, took a 2-1 lead on an own-goal by Wapak, and stretched it to 3-1 with 48 seconds left in the half.
From there the Bulldogs held on, allowing just an Andy Faller penalty kick in the second half for the 3-2 win.
The Redskins’ strategy was to try to exploit what they saw as a vulnerability in Celina goalkeeper Adam Johnson to long shots.
It worked initially as junior Anthonie Phommachanh lifted a shot from beyond the 18-yard box over Johnson’s outstretched arms and into the upper right-hand corner of the net to give Wapak a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.
Freshman Eric Moeder scored the equalizer for Celina in the 31st minute.
Then on a Bulldogs corner kick with 3:01 left in the half, two Wapak defenders tried to head the ball out of the box. The ball glanced off one head, then ricocheted off the second and into the net before junior goalkeeper Zach Holtzapple could react.
“Those things happen,” Wapak coach Marc Dyrness said.
Celina made it 3-1 on another corner kick as Nate Post tapped it in with 48 seconds left in the half.
“They did their job,” Dyrness said. “And on two of those we didn’t do our job.”
Wapak continued to try to create long shot opportunities in the second half but struggled to find the net.
“In the second half we dropped back a center midfielder a little bit further to try to contest that shot a little bit,” Celina coach Ryan Jenkins said.
Faller got the Redskins within one at 3-2 on a penalty kick with 21:50 to play.
Faller was one-on-one with Celina’s Jeremy Walls just inside the box on the right side when Walls was called for the foul. Faller fired the penalty kick into the left side of the net just past Johnson’s fingertips.
Wapak only got off two more shots in the final 21 minutes. Both sailed high.
“We’re rushing. They get the ball at their feet and they want to put it in there right away instead of having a little bit of patience. Get the one touch, get the head up, take a look and strike it nice. We’re trying to one-time it. And you’re not going to one-time it from that distance.”
Wapak is starting five freshman after losing senior Colin Mankin to a knee injury in the LCC game. It is unclear when he will return.
The Redskins are now 4-4 overall and 1-2 in the WBL. Celina is 4-3 overall and 2-1 in league play.