BY GENE NARDI
The Wellington High School girls soccer team went head-to-head with Park Vista High School at Palm Beach Central High School in the District 11-5A finals match on Monday, Jan. 18, and fell to the Cobras in a penalty-kick shootout 3-2 after two scoreless 10-minute overtime periods.
Second-seeded Wellington (13-8-1) rallied to tie the game 2-2 in regulation time but could not find the winning goal, after dominating most of the game. Goals from Katrina Calkins and Megan Cebollero sent the match into overtime.
Earlier, in the semifinals, Wellington defeated Palm Beach Central 3-2. The Broncos rallied late in that game but fell short to a stubborn Wolverine defense. Abigail Bryan logged two goals against the Broncos, and Samantha Sullivan recorded a goal for Wellington. Aubrey Megrath scored for Palm Beach Central. The win propelled Wellington into the finals match against the top seed, Park Vista.
Despite Wellington dominating most of the first 12 minutes of the action, it was the Cobras who struck first, from a corner kick that snuck by the Wolverine goalkeeper for the 1-0 lead. Minutes later, Calkins notched the equalizer. Calkins beat the Cobra defense off a through ball in the center and drove it by the Cobra keeper for a 1-1 tie.
Just before the end of the first half, Park Vista took a loose ball into the box and poked it in by the near post for the go-ahead goal 2-1.
Wellington had a slow start to the second half but slowly gained momentum, driving through a stingy Cobra defense. The Wolverines managed several shots on frame, forcing the Park Vista keeper to stay continuously alert. The Wolverines found the post and the crossbar often, but Cebollero found the back of the net just after the water break to tie the game 2-2. The ball was getting bounced around inside the box; Cebollero pushed through a wall of Park Vista defenders and drove the ball in.
Both teams pushed back, with momentum swinging like a pendulum, but Wellington had the lead in scoring opportunities. Finishing was the challenge for both teams.
Two 10-minute overtime periods were scoreless, but again, Wellington seemed to create more opportunities. With five minutes left in the final overtime period, forward Bryan had a breakaway and beat an aggressive Park Vista goalkeeper coming way off the line; an open net offered a certain winning goal, but the ball shot just inches wide of the post. Wellington eventually fell to the Cobras in a penalty kick shoot-out 8-7.
“We had our chances; this could have gone either way,” Wellington coach Mike Kozlowski said. “It has been that kind of year. We’ve been resilient. If you look at our record, it doesn’t indicate who we really are.”
With the narrow defeat, Wellington earned the district 11-5A runner-up.
Wellington traveled this week to Boca Raton High School for the first round of the regional tournament, but results were not available by press time.
ABOVE: Abigail Bryan splits the Park Vista defense to advance the ball toward the net for the Lady Wolverines.