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Woodridge boys soccer maintains undefeated start

by Michael Leonard Sports Editor Published: September 11, 2016 12:00 AM

There have been some fits and starts so far this season, but the Woodridge boys soccer team continues to win.

Woodridge opened the week by dismantling Streetsboro 8-0 Sept. 1 on the road, but then scored wins in two tougher tests.

The Bulldogs won a battle of undefeated teams Sept. 3 at Lahoski Field when it beat North Canton Hoover 2-1.

Woodridge then made the trip to Medina Highland Sept. 6 and pulled out a 2-1 win.

Woodridge's record stood at 5-0, 1-0 in the Portage Trail Conference Metro Conference as of press time.

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Against Streetsboro, Woodridge jumped on the Rockets early and often, finishing with a 25-0 advantage in shots on goal. Woodridge also had a 3-0 edge in corner kicks.

The Bulldogs got a pair of goals from senior Carter Hartong, senior Caleb Whittaker and sophomore Abdur Karimov, while senior Chris Malley and sophomore Nolan Spencer each scored once.

Bulldogs coach Todd Hartong started emptying his bench in after 16th minute of play, as the Bulldogs completely overwhelmed the Rockets.

"Streetsboro is an improved team, but as a conference game, we were looking to score early and often in order to give the starters a rest," coach Hartong said. "We led 6-0 17 minutes into the game and I was able to pull all the starters at that point and play the reserves for the rest of the game. This was great, because it gave the starters a much-needed rest and the non-starters about three quarters of a game to play."

A physical Hoover squad proved a bigger challenge for the Bulldogs.

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Woodridge gave up the first goal of the game in the ninth minute and trailed 1-0 at halftime despite creating several quality scoring chances.

Two minutes into the second half, however, Woodridge got the equalizer off a corner kick.

Carter Hartong provide the service, finding defender Sam Reaman open on the back post and Reaman put it home to make it 1-1.

In the 55th minute, Reaman turned provider as he took a free kick and pumped it into the penalty box. Whittaker got his head to the ball and put it off the near post to make it 2-1.

"It was a match much like the Stow game that saw end to end action," coach Hartong said. "Hoover likes to press the ball and plays with an extraordinarily high defensive line. For much of the match, we were able to break the high line and play possession out of the back through their press. However, we were unable to actually score during the run of play. Our goals came from two set pieces."

Coach Hartong credited goalkeeper Brett Lemke for some great saves down the stretch to preserve the win. Lemke finished with five saves, as Woodridge finished with a 9-7 edge in shots on goal.

"Brett came up big in goal as he had a number of key saves during a 15-minute run Hoover had in the second half, as they really pushed numbers forward to try for the equalizer," Hartong said.

Against Highland, Woodridge was able to find the net twice in the first 10 minutes.

Carter Hartong opened the scoring with an unassisted goal.

That was followed by junior AJ Wojcik with a backheel goal, thanks to a nice pass from Whittaker.

Highland cut the lead to 2-1 shortly thereafter, but neither team could find the net again, despite numerous chances.

Woodridge finished with a 13-10 edge in shots on goal and a 4-1 edge in corner kicks. Lemke was credited with six saves.

"Highland plays a very direct fast and physical game," Hartong said. "They virtually bypass the midfield, which doesn't always play into our favor with our medium block. That said, we scored two goals in the first 10 minutes of play and held on to the win. Brett came up with a number of big saves again.

"Other than the Stow game when we had a field player in the goal, we haven't given up more than one goal in any match. If we keep doing that, we should be competitive in every contest. At this point Brett has a .75 goals against average."

Woodridge was set to travel to Cloverleaf Sept. 8, but results were not available at press time.

Woodridge faces a big test Sept. 13 when it hosts St. Vincent-St. Mary. The Bulldogs also will host Field Sept. 15. Kickoff both nights is at 7 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC

Twitter:@MLeonard_RPC


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