BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School girls soccer team defeated Boca Raton High School 4-1 on Friday, Jan. 16 to claim the District 11-5A crown.
WHS students and alumni gathered to watch the championship match. The second-seeded Wolverines had eliminated Park Vista High School 2-0 in the semifinals, while the third-seeded Bobcats upset the top seed, district favorite Palm Beach Central High School, 4-3. Wellington and Boca had met earlier in the regular season, with the Wolverines taking that contest by a score of 5-2.
Wellington last won the district title in 2009 under coach Mike Kozlowski. His return to the Wellington pitch as the Wolverines coach has returned the soccer buzz to the area.
“We preached to them all season that it’s not the little me, it’s the big we,” he said. “I know it’s corny, but the fact that four girls scored is testament to our team attitude. They have the attitude that they put themselves second and the team first.”
Wellington (19-2) scored first in the 28th minute. Megan Cebollero capitalized on Boca being unable to clear a deep ball, which gave the Wolverines the 1-0 lead. Thirty-four seconds before the end of the first half, midfielder Kassidy Hannum added to the Wellington lead by launching a shot from 25 yards out that sailed over the hands of the Boca keeper and found the back of the net for the 2-0 advantage.
In the 49th minute, Boca cut into the Wellington lead by scoring on a breakaway. The Wolverine goalkeeper Lynn Sobczyk came off her line to block the shot, managing to get a hand on the ball, but the deflected shot still found the back of the net to make it a one-goal game at 2-1.
Less than two minutes later, freshman midfielder Samantha Sullivan took a shot from 22 yards away that went past the fingertips of the Boca goalkeeper to extend the Wellington lead to 3-1.
In the 59th minute, freshman Samantha Jenkins sent a rocket in the shape of a soccer ball to the net from 30 yards out that soared over the Boca goalkeeper for the 4-1 advantage and the district title. Wellington tallied 17 shots on goal, to Boca’s eight.
“We knew their goalkeeper was short, but it wasn’t something we talked about, it just happened,” Kozlowski said.
“This is amazing,” Wellington defender Kayla McCauley said. “All of the hard work this season has paid off for the girls.”
The two teams could meet again, in the regional semifinal match, but the Wolverines must first host Stoneman Douglas High School, Kozlowski’s alma mater, and Boca must travel to Taravella High School, the District 12-5A champion, on Thursday in regional quarterfinal play. The winners will face each other in the regional semifinal.
ABOVE: The Wellington Wolverines soccer team members grin as one with their district championship trophy after their 4-1 victory over the Boca Raton Bobcats.