Priority one every season for the Woodridge boys soccer team iswin the Portage Trail Conference division title.

Heading into the final week of the season, the Bulldogs are poised to do just that.

Following a 2-0 loss at Green Oct. 1, the Bulldogs rolled past Metro Division foe Norton Oct. 4 with a 6-0 win at Lahoski Field.

As of press time, Woodridge's record stood at 10-2-1, 4-0-1 in the Metro Division.

Woodridge coach Todd Hartong said Green was the best team his squad faced all season.

"We played well against Green. We played so they couldn't get in behind our defense and had great success," Hatong said. "Our only problem was that we were unable to string together passes in our attacking efforts."

Despite Green finishing with a 7-2 edge in shots on goal and a 7-3 edge in corner kicks, Woodridge held Green to a 0-0 score at halftime.

The breakthrough for Green came in the 53rd minute, when a Green throw-in bounced off the head of a Woodridge defender and into the net for an own goal.

Seven minutes later, a Green free kick turned into a second goal, which came from a header on the back post.

"To give up an own goal off of a throw-in and then a set piece for the second goal was all too familiar," Hartong said. "This is the exact recipe we had in our only other loss to Nordonia. That said, I was proud of our defensive effort that day."

Goaltender Brett Lemke finished with three saves for Woodridge.

On Oct. 4, Woodridge's offense flowed early and often, as the Bulldogs created 12 scoring chances in the first half alone, taking a 4-0 lead into half.

"Devin O'Laughlin scored almost 7 minutes into the game to give us the early lead and we kept pressure on Norton the entire half," Hartong said. "We nearly connected on 4-5 other chances in the next 20 minutes, missing opportunities that should not have been missed."

However, in the 27th minute, senior Caleb Whitaker put home a free kick to make it 2-0.

It was a significant goal, as Whitaker scored the 64th goal of his high school career, breaking Woodridge's school record of 63 goals in a career by Dave Cogdiell Jr.

"Sixty-four goals is quite an accomplishment in a four-year span at any level," Hartong said. "I have been coaching Caleb since he was 8 years old and he has always been a natural goal scorer. It isn't always something you can teach. Some kids have it and some don'tthat ability to finish around the net. That said, as much as he scores, he loves to serve the ball just as much. He is always looking for a great pass to spring one of his teammates toward goal and that makes him a real dangerous player. It is also the quality that will allow him to succeed in college."

Hartong said Whitaker's goal "blew the door wide open," as Woodridge got goals from Zach Kumar and Carter Hartong in the last six minutes of the half to take a 4-0 lead.

Aiden Hartong and Abdur Karimov each scored after the half for Woodridge to help ice the game.

Woodridge dominated possession and finished with a 16-1 edge in shots on goal and a 4-1 edge in corner kicks.

Hartong expressed pride in his team, as Woodridge was ranked No. 4 in Division II in the Oct. 3 poll from the Ohio Scholastic Soccer Coaches Association.

"It is an amazing accomplishment for this group," Hartong said. "Six of the seniors have played virtually every game since they were freshmen and it has shown this year as they have tackled what is perhaps the most difficult schedule in school history."

Woodridge was set to host Akron Springfield Oct. 6 in its home finale, but results were not available at press time.

Woodridge will resume a suspended game with Ravenna Oct. 11 at 7 p.m. at Portage Community Bank Stadium. The game will resume with six minutes left in the first half and Woodridge leading 1-0. Hartong notes the game will likely determine the Metro Division champion.

Woodridge will close out the regular season Oct. 13 at 7 p.m. at Hudson.


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