BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School boys varsity soccer team fell to Palm Beach Gardens 3-1 in the District 9-5A finals Friday, Jan. 25 at Palm Beach Central High School.
The third seed Wolverines edged a tough Palm Beach Central team 2-1 in the semifinals match to earn their spot in the championship showdown. The Gators stunned top seed Jupiter in their semifinal match. Wellington defeated the Gators earlier in the season 4-1, but went into the final match without its two starting center midfielders, Jesus Castellon and Allen Martinez. Both starters suffered injuries in the Palm Beach Central semifinal game.
By earning the district runner-up spot, the Wolverines advance into the regional tournament but will have to travel to Boca Raton and play the top-ranked Bobcats. Palm Beach Gardens will host John I. Leonard.
In the 40th minute, the Gators pressured the Wellington defense and drew a foul from about 40 yards from the Wellington net. Palm Beach Gardens launched a free kick from the left side that sailed just over the stretched-out hands of Wellington keeper Nicolas Gomez and under the cross bar to make it 1-0. Just one minute prior, Gomez saved a penalty kick shot from a handball in the box. Wellington would play the remainder of the match a man down due to the foul.
In the second half, Wellington pressured Palm Beach Gardens. In the 60th minute, Dominic Rodrigues broke through the right side and sent a ball across the front of the net for the equalizer. Palm Beach Gardens would regain the lead with two more late goals, both from set plays off free kicks, to close out their avenging victory 3-1 over the Wolverines.
Regional competitions began this week, but the schedule was not available by press time.
Above: The Wellington boys varsity soccer team with their trophy.