VAN WERT — Celina’s defense proved to be nearly impenetrable Thursday during the Bulldogs’ 4-0 shutout of Van Wert in boys soccer. In fact, the Cougars got off only one shot in the entire match, and that one sailed to the left of the goal.

The win put Celina at 6-6-2 overall and 2-5-1 in the Western Buckeye League. Van Wert is 2-11-0 and 0-8-0.

The ball actually spent the first three or four minutes of the game mostly in the Cougars’ end of the pitch, but it seldom got close to that goal again. While the Celina defenders were doing a fine job of clearing ball out of the Van Wert offensive end, the Cougs had a bit of trouble doing likewise at the other end – and it cost them.

With 33:05 showing on the first-half clock, Celina’s shifty and speedy junior, Jim Aquino, picked up a loose ball 12 yards out on the right side and rifled it into the upper right corner of the net to make it 1-0. The Cougs’ junior goalkeeper, Ryan Hollingsworth, made a couple of spectacular diving early saves, and a point-blank Celina shot hit the upper right corner of the goal frame to prevent further damage.

The Dogs were blasting away, mostly on long range low-percentage shots, but late in the first half, they capitalized on some gaps in the defense to score three more times. At 9:09, Aquino took a cross from senior Conner Mills and knocked it in from five yards out. At 8:33, Aquino assisted on a point-blank goal by senior Kyle Flaute. With only six seconds left in the half, Flaute whacked a 15-yarder from the right side that Hollingsworth seemed to have stopped with a dive but the ball bounced off of the goalie’s chest and spun into the net to make it 4-0, Bulldogs, at the half.

Celina had 18 first-half shots, of which eight were on goal. Hollingsworth had four saves. Van Wert had only one shot, and it wasn’t on goal.

The second half was anticlimactic, with both defenses controlling the action and seldom letting the ball get close to either net. Van Wert had no shots at all, and Celina had only three, all on goal. Each Cougar goalkeeper, Hollingsworth and freshman Taylor Springer, made one head-long diving save. Aquino played only six minutes of the second half, which slowed the Bulldog offense a bit.

It was the last home game for Van Wert seniors Darius Eddins, Stephen Hamblett and Eli Rager.


6:52 – Jim Aquino (Celina).

30:51 – Aquino, assist by Conner Mills.

31:27 – Kyle Flaute (Celina), assist by Aquino.

39:54 — Flaute.

Shots – Celina 21, Van Wert 1.

Shots on Goal – Celina 11, Van Wert 0.

Saves – Truesdale (C) 0, Puschel (C) 0, Hollingsworth (VW) 8, Springer (VW) 1.

Corner Kicks – Celina 9, Van Wert 1.