BY GENE NARDI
On Thursday, Jan. 22, the Wellington High School girls varsity soccer team hosted Broward County rival Stoneman Douglas High School in a regional quarterfinal match, defeating the Eagles 2-1 in a penalty kick shootout.
With the win, the Wolverines advanced into the regional semifinal round and a rematch with Boca Raton High School. The Bobcats upset the District 12-5A champions, J.P. Taravella High School. The meeting between the Wolverines and Boca will be the third this year. Wellington (19-1-1) is two-for-two against the Bobcats, defeating them 5-2 in the regular season, and again 4-1 for the District 11-5A championship.
Wellington and Douglas battled early in a physical game. The fifth-ranked Wolverines appeared to have the edge in possession and shots on goal in the first half, but it was Douglas that found the back of the net first in the 52nd minute to take a 1-0 lead, and then fended off several Wellington attacks effectively to secure the one-goal lead at the half.
The Eagles built a solid attack in the second half but could not get past the stubborn Wellington goalkeeper, junior Jessica Hole, who later would prove to be instrumental in her team’s victory. Wolverine sophomore Megan Cebollero found space in the center of the Doulgas defense, and broke through to beat the Eagle keeper for the 1-1 equalizer in the 76th minute.
With both teams struggling desperately to push players forward in an effort to steal the winning goal, regulation time ended. Two 10-minute overtime periods were played without any scoring, with both Hole and the Eagle keeper coming up big on occasion to send the game into a penalty-kick shootout.
Freshman Samantha Jenkins scored the winning penalty kick, but the anchor to the success was Hole, who stopped three of four Eagle shots during the shootout.
“We have three goalies, and the competition has made her what she is,” Wellington coach Mike Kozlowski said about Hole. “They compete every day. There is no one better than the other. Tonight we just chose her.”
With a majority of the roster made up of mostly underclassmen, and only a handful of juniors and seniors, the future for the Wellington squad looks bright.
The Wolverines played Boca Raton in the regional semifinal match on Tuesday night in Wellington, but results were not available at press time.
ABOVE: Wolverine midfielder Samantha Sullivan splits the Douglas defenders to get the ball.