Riders D' Holds Up In C-Town

St. Marys' Adam Tobin battles with a Celina defender during a Western Buckeye League boys soccer match on Thursday against the Bulldogs.
Sports Editor

Despite the early season struggles, the tie games and the time needed for this team to mesh, St. Marys still accomplished its biggest feat of the season — beating Celina on its home field.

All of a sudden, this team has rallied around each other, found their strengths and are on a roll.

A defense that Roughriders coach Josh Hertenstein said was the best he had seen all season earlier this week in a win against Bath, that defense took it to another level in Thursday’s 3-2 Western Buckeye League win against the archival Bulldogs on Thursday.

“When the beginning of the season started out, it didn’t look good,” Andy Vogel said. “But we have been picking it up lately and in the middle of the season, I knew we were going to win this game.”

Two first-half goals gave the Roughriders (7-2-4, 5-1-2 WBL) a halftime lead and an own goal by Celina in the second half kept St. Marys on top as the defense did its job while undermanned in the final 34:04 of the game.

“Last time playing Celina on this field to get a win and we kicked it off well,” Vogel added.

“To beat Celina, at their home stadium, it is a big thing,” Justin Grannan said.

St. Marys was a player down for the final 34:04 of the game when Max Mielke was hit with his second yellow card, which yields a red card. 

The Bulldogs capitalized with Josh Kuehne’s game-tying goal at the 27:28 mark, but that was it. 

Celina mustered seven shots on goal in the final 34 minutes, but only connected once as the defense stepped up and  goalkeeper Correy Nelson had his timely saves late in the contest, including two key saves in the final three minutes. The game ended as Celina kicked the ball from the top of the 18-yard box three times, but were stopped each time by a St. Marys defender.

“That was one of the most even games that I have seen all season,” Hertenstein said. “That game could have gone either way.”

With Mielke out, Grannan said the defense had to change its game plan from possessing the ball to clearing it to the other side of the field in every opportunity it had. 

“It kind of changed the style of play we usually used,” he said. “We had to bring Spencer [Trogdlon].”

The Roughriders got on the board first when Joey Vanderhorst headed the ball to Adam Tobin on the front, right side of the goal as the junior turned around, squared up and shot the ball past Celina goalkeeper Dalton Leiss at the 25:13 mark of the first half. 

Celina responded at the 19:21 mark, but the Roughriders ended the half when Vanderhorst’s direct kick found Andrew Ibrahim as a junior headed the ball in with 30 seconds left in the half.

The Bulldogs responded again with Kuehne’s connection from just above the 18, but St. Marys regained the lead — and this time for good — one a corner kick that landed directly in front of the net with Andy Vogel heading the ball, which was then headed by a Celina defender for an own goal at the 25:12 mark of the second half.

To read the full story, see Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.