Despite entering the Division III district tournament with just four wins, the Wellington School boys soccer team defeated fourth-seeded Fairbanks 1-0 in the second round last Saturday.

Despite entering the Division III district tournament with just four wins, the Wellington School boys soccer team defeated fourth-seeded Fairbanks 1-0 in the second round last Saturday.

The Jaguars improved to 5-7-5 and played Horizon Science Academy in a district semifinal last Wednesday. The winner plays second-seeded Worthington Christian or Tree of Life in a district final at 2 p.m. Saturday at DeSales.

Wellington lost to Worthington Christian 3-0 on Sept. 30 and lost to Tree of Life on 3-1 on Oct. 9.

The district champion plays Bloom-Carroll, Columbus Academy, Grandview or West Jefferson in a regional semifinal on Tuesday. Grandview and Bloom-Carroll are seeded first and third, respectively, in the district and Academy is seventh.

The Jaguars lost to Grandview 1-0 on Sept. 11 but tied Bloom-Carroll at 1 on Oct. 16 and tied Academy at 1 on Aug. 31. They have not played West Jefferson this season.

"We have 13 seniors on this team, and they don't want to leave the field," coach Kyle Hamrick said. "I've seen a lot of teams where the seniors leave the field after their last game and they appear to be saying, 'Good riddance. That was a nightmare for us.' This team is not like that. They don't even want to leave the field after practices."

With nine seconds left in the first half against Fairbanks, sophomore Iakovos Anastasakis drilled a shot into the left side of the net to help the Jaguars avenge a 2-0 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 5.

"During the regular season, we didn't get the results we hoped for based on the potential for this team," Hamrick said. "Right now, we're playing with a ton of confidence."

The victory over Fairbanks was costly, however, as senior defender Nathan Klabunde sustained a concussion after a collision with another player while trying to head the ball. He was not expected to play against Horizon Science Academy. Klabunde is the fourth Jaguars player to sustain a concussion in the last month.

Wellington hasn't reached a district final since losing to Worthington Christian 5-0 in 2006. Hamrick said maintaining possession of the ball will determine just how far his team goes.

"We have to be able move the ball from the defense to the midfield to the final third of the field," he said.

"Sometimes we get extremely impatient and just serve the ball up and hope our forwards can get to it. It was starting to get on my nerves tonight because we were just giving away possessions."

•Girls soccer coach Billy Thompson came into this season discouraged after his team finished 6-9-2 last year, marking the worst record during his 10-year tenure.

Despite the Jaguars' 4-1 loss to Columbus Academy in the second round of the Division II district tournament last Saturday, Thompson felt like the team recommitted itself to being successful.

"I'm disappointed with the loss, but I'm pleased with our performance and commitment," said Thompson, whose team finished 8-9-1. "The seniors this year set a precedent of where (the work level) needs to be."

"Our coach would always say, 'It's business as usual with enthusiasm and pride.' That's a good way to approach life," senior defender Shana Griffin said.

"I learned a lot about teamwork and working with other people. If you work hard for someone else, they'll work hard for you."

The Jaguars struggled against second-seeded Academy, which improved to 15-1-2. In the first half, Wellington couldn't put away a couple of early scoring opportunities. The Vikings had only two scoring chances in the first half and capitalized on both to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.

Junior Paige Price scored early in the second half to make it 2-1, but the Vikings scored two more goals to move on to a district semifinal.

Wellington, which had beaten Amanda-Clearcreek 3-2 in the first round of the district tournament on Oct. 20, will have to totally rebuild an offense that averaged two goals a game this season.

The Jaguars lose senior Dara Love, who scored 23 goals and five assists this season after scoring 19 goals as a junior.

"Dara is a difference maker," Thompson said. "She was really focused this year and took things to another level. She was very committed to matches and worked to get good results this year."

In addition to Griffin and Love, Wellington loses seniors Casey Fleeter (forward), Abbe Kaplan (midfielder), Elaine Poon (forward) and Becky Shin (defender).

Expected to return are juniors Kayla Barton, Sophie Knowles and Paige Price and freshmen Emily Bichsel, Abby Fleeter, Natalie Morse and Mallory Tannous in the midfield, freshmen Sarah Wakeman and Livie Whapham at forward, junior Annie Postle, sophomores Helen Fite, Colleen Kletzly and Neale Snyder and freshmen Katie Brailer, Nia Kaudo and Gabby Smith on defense and junior goalkeeper Mckenzie Danis.

At a glance

GIRLS SOCCER

•Record: 8-9-1

•Seniors lost: Casey Fleeter, Shana Griffin, Abbe Kaplan, Dara Love, Elaine Poon and Becky Shin

•Key returnees: Kayla Barton, Annie Postle and Paige Price