A promise fulfilled in the second half gave the Wapakoneta Redskins an important 2-1 win Monday over the Celina Bulldogs in Western Buckeye League varsity boys soccer action at Ryan Field.
The loss was Celina’s first of the season in WBL play.
Wapak varsity coach Keith Rambin explained his halftime promise.
“I made the promise at halftime: I told the players that if they start possessing the ball, they’ll get more shots,” Rambin said.
The Redskins did just so.
Trailing 1-0 since 6:13 into the second half, Wapak made more of an effort to be patient and have more players be in position to shoot.
Wapak’s first goal came at 24:20 left in the game, when a hustle play by Alex Lause along the sideline eventually resulted in a goal by Luke Williams from in front of the net.
Lause sprinted toward the sideline to keep the ball in play. A couple kicks later, Williams found the ball at his feet and converted.
“Lause never gave up on it,” Rambin said. “Luckily, Luke was there to clean it up. He was where he was supposed to be.”
With the stadium still abuzz from Wapak’s tying goal, less than a minute later, Sam Hinegardner booted what proved to be a long go-ahead goal toward the net, one that ricocheted off a defender past the goalkeeper, setting off a furious celebration among the Redskins’ team and home crowd.
“Sam has got to shoot the ball,” Rambin said. “It’s like basketball, if you don’t shoot, it can’t go in.
“He put that ball on frame and it caromed off a Celina defender into the net,” Rambin said. “He was a good distance out. I told Sam that if he didn’t shoot that, we would have tied.
Rambin’s promise resulted from a recent scoring drought, as the Redskins had scored just one goal in their past three games after scoring 29 in their first five games.
Rambin explained the cause of his team’s recent drought.
“Our midfielders have been trying to clear the ball in front of midfield and launch it forward.” Rambin said.
To set up Williams’ goal, the Redskins needed patience to wait on the midfielders to run into the 18 and assist the two forwards in Wapak’s 4-4-2 formation.
“A couple times in the first half we were able to possess it forward to Luke, but he’s on the sideline and there’s only one other person up there with all of our midfielders still at midfield,” Rambin said.
Rambin, despite the win Monday, still wishes to see a change in his team’s offensive approach moving forward.
“I’m happy with the win, but it is still not the brand of soccer we played the first five games,” Rambin said. “We did get more shots and looks in the second half than in the last seven halves.
"We’ve been sending the ball forward too far,” he said. “It’s like sending a basketball player down the court on a fast break one against four. We’ve got to be patient and let our midfielders get down the field."
Monday’s win put Wapak at 2-0-2 in the WBL, with league leader St. Marys at 4-0-0.
Wapak and St. Marys are the only unbeaten teams in the WBL.
They will play each other at Ryan Field on Sept. 30.
“We’re still a little behind the 8-ball with the two ties,” Rambin said. “We’ll need a little help down the road, but for the most part, fate is still in our own hands.”
Wapak will resume its schedule Thursday with a WBL road match against the Defiance Bulldogs.
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