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Woodridge boys soccer leaves no doubt, routs Ravenna

by Michael Leonard Sports Editor Published: October 16, 2016 12:00 AM
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Woodridge and Ravenna weren't originally scheduled to play for the Portage Trail Conference Metro Division boys soccer crown in the last week of the season.

Thanks to fate and Mother Nature, however, that's exactly what happened Oct. 11 at Portage Community Bank Stadium.

The two teams continued a game suspended by lightning Aug. 25. Play resumed with Woodridge leading 1-0 with 6:04 left in the first half.

When play resumed Oct. 11, it was pretty much all Woodridge -- or, more appropriately, all Caleb Whitaker.

The Bulldogs' All-Ohio senior captain scored twice in the second half, leading Woodridge to a 3-0 win and its third straight PTC divisional title.

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Woodridge set up the win with a 4-0 rout of Akron Springfield Oct. 6 at Lahoski Field.

Woodridge improved to 12-2-1 and finished 6-0-1 in the Metro Division. Ravenna dropped to 10-3-1, 5-1 in the Metro Division with one division game remaining.

Regarding Whitaker's performance, Ravenna coach Matt Wunderle could only tip his hat.

"The kid is in the running for one of the best players ever to come out of the PTC, if not the best," Wunderle said. "The kid is just an incredible talent. He's incredibly precise. The shots he had were just pinpoint accurate."

Whitaker actually scored the game's first goal back on Aug. 25, giving him a hat trick for the contest.

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"We wanted more than anything to win the PTC," Whitaker said. "All I thought about was just helping my teammates win."

"The boys were excited to have an end-of-the-year game for the PTC title," said Bulldogs coach Todd Hartong.

Woodridge came out firing when the game resumed and only some heroics by Ravenna goalie Brady Starkey kept the game at 1-0 before halftime.

Starkey first denied Woodridge's AJ Wojcik and then Chris Mally from point-blank range before the half.

"He's an elite keeper," Wunderle said of Starkey. "He's looking to be one of the best in Northeast Ohio."

Ravenna's scoring chances were scant, as the Ravens attempted to counterattack the Bulldogs most of the night.

"They were more of a counterattack side than we were," Hartong said. "Every ball they got, they tried to go long. We made an effort to get back and protect one another."

It was a Bulldog counterattack that made it 2-0.

Woodridge cleared a Ravenna free kick, allowing junior Devin O'Laughlin to run into Ravens' territory.

O'Laughlin slid a ball across the field to a charging Whitaker, who fired a laser beam into the lower right corner of the net, making it 2-0 in the 54th minute.

Woodridge came close to making it 3-0 several times, but Starkey made eight saves on the night, including a leaping stab to deny Whitaker in the 67th minute.

A corner kick in the 75th minute sealed the win for Woodridge.

Senior captain Carter Hartong took the kick and sent it into the six-yard box, allowing Whitaker to head it home right on the doorstep.

Woodridge finished with a 10-1 edge in shots on goal for the night, as Bulldogs keeper Brett Lemke needed to make only save to preserve the shutout.

The Bulldogs were set to face Hudson in their regular-season finale Oct. 13, but results were not available at press time.

Woodridge will enter the playoffs ranked No. 5 in the Division II by the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coach Association poll. The Bulldogs were tied with Celina with 58 points in the poll.

Despite that ranking, Woodridge was only given the No. 3 in the Division II Kent district tournament draw Oct. 9 behind Revere (No. 1) and Pepper Pike Orange (No. 2).

As a result, Woodridge will open its playoff run in a sectional final game Oct. 19 at Lahoski Field vs. ninth-seeded Crestwood. Kickoff is at 7 p.m.

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

Facebook: MLeonardRPC

Twitter:@MLeonard_RPC


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