BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School boys varsity soccer team traveled across town Friday, Dec. 18 to play rival Palm Beach Central High School, and rallied with two unanswered goals from Juan Aguirre to defeat the Broncos on their home turf.
With the win, the Wolverines snapped a three-year losing streak against their crosstown foe and handed the Broncos their first loss of the season. The two teams are ranked in the top 10, share the same district and most likely will face each other again in the playoffs.
Twelve minutes into the contest, the Broncos (11-1-1) drew first blood. Pressuring the Wellington defense, striker Vincent Knutsson took a ball and beat both the Wellington defender and the Wolverine keeper. Knutsson kicked the ball up and over the keeper into the net for an early 1-0 lead.
Wellington (9-3) did not get its first shot on goal until nearly 18 minutes in. Momentum swung in favor of the Wolverines, earning two corner kicks late in the first half. The Wellington surge forced the Broncos to use their defense, which did not see much action early on. However, the Broncos cleared away any Wellington threat that came their way.
The Broncos pushed back by putting together a couple of attacks, but the Wolverine defense was equally as stubborn and refused to surrender another goal. The Broncos held a 1-0 lead going into the half.
Seconds into the second half, Palm Beach Central earned a penalty kick from a Wolverine foul in the box and had the chance to go up 2-0, but the shot went wide. Eight minutes later, Aguirre beat the Bronco defense and shot a ball underneath the Bronco keeper for the equalizer.
In the 16th minute, Aguirre grabbed his second goal of the night to lift Wellington into the lead 2-1. Wolverine goalkeeper Nico Gomez punted a ball with the wind that took a bounce deep into the Bronco defense. Aguirre, on the bounce, popped a solid header over the Bronco keeper and into the net. “Lately, I haven’t been playing my best, and I needed to have a big night,” he said.
The Broncos put on the pressure, but Wellington showed little sign of fatigue and maintained its shape, moving the ball around well. With just minutes on the clock, the Broncos earned a corner kick and dropped the ball into the box perfectly. The ball was struck, and appeared to be dropping in over Gomez, the Wellington keeper. But Gomez leaped up and snagged the ball out of the air. “I was just thinking, I had to grab it,” Gomez said.
Seconds later, the final whistle blew, and Wolverines held on for the 2-1 win. “A little switch of the formation, and they did the rest,” Wellington coach Richard Woolcock said. “They went out and made some great plays.”
Both teams are on break, and will resume play after the holidays.
ABOVE: Wellington goalkeeper Nico Gomez leaps in the air to make a key save.