REGIONAL CHAMPIONS

Throughout what has become the most successful postseason run in the history of the Wellington boys soccer team, coach J.J. Bain sensed that his players didn't dwell too long on any of the accomplishments.

That's the exact approach he was hoping they'd take heading into their Division III state semifinal against Botkins on Nov. 6 at Springfield.

Wellington beat Berlin Hiland 3-0 in a regional semifinal Oct. 29 at Lakewood and South Webster 5-0 in a regional final Nov. 2 at Chillicothe to take a 10-game winning streak into its first state tournament.

"It was more satisfying that I can tell they're not satisfied," Bain said. "This is the first time this program has ever (won a regional tournament game), but it's good to see that their expectations are really high. That'll carry over into future years."

Wellington was 16-2-3 before facing Botkins, which beat Cincinnati Seven Hills 1-0 in a regional final Nov. 2 to improve to 19-0-2.

The winner plays Canfield South Range or Bluffton in the state final Sunday, Nov. 10, at Mapfre Stadium.

"We made history, I guess, so it feels good," senior forward Ahmet Ozer said.

Against Hiland, senior midfielder Eli Dulle, Ozer and senior midfielder/forward Freddie Lin each scored and sophomore goalkeeper Arius Calloway made three saves.

Against South Webster, Wellington took a 1-0 lead on a goal by senior forward Freddie Lin off a pass from junior forward/midfielder Jordan Livits and got a goal by Dulle off a pass from Ozer to make it 2-0.

Livits scored two goals and senior forward Zak Ahmed added one in the second half against South Webster, which finished 16-4-1.

"We intended to come out (in every game) with a shutout like the other teams we've played in this tournament," Livits said. "We've played to the sides and crossed the ball in. That's how most of our goals have happened."

South Range was 19-2 and Bluffton was 17-2-2 entering their matchup Nov. 6 at Doylestown Chippewa.

None of the four teams that reached state competed at that level last season.

According to Bain, Dulle and midfielder Henry Lin have been key in setting the tone with their ball-control skills for the type of offense the Jaguars have tried to run this season.

"Possession is our key," Bain said. "Our purpose is to move the defense and create high-penetration opportunities.

"We haven't given up a goal in the (postseason entering play Nov. 6) and haven't given up many shots. Extending back to the regular season, I think this was a big point of emphasis from last year to this year."

julrey@thisweeknews.com

@UlreyThisWeek