BY ETHAN LILLARD
FORT MADISON – One of the Bloodhounds’ goals at the beginning of the season was to at least reach the .500 mark on the year.
After coming away with a 4-2 win against Washington at Baxter’s Sports Complex Thursday, Fort Madison’s boys soccer team is now at the coveted .500 mark.
Despite the Hounds meeting the standard they set at the beginning of the season, there is still much more work to be done.
“They’ve been working at practice. We’re doing things better at practice than we were last year,” Fort Madison Head Coach Kevin Wellman said. “The guys are starting to own the team as players. They have more pride to carry when they feel its their team … Five hundred is a good place to be right now, but I think any of those games out there, if the guys work hard enough and execute properly, we should be able to be very competitive in just about every game we have left.”
Thursday’s match started slow for both squads. The first goal of the game wasn’t recorded until 25 minutes had trickled off the clock and even then it was scored on accident, as a Washington defender accidentally sent the ball past his own goalie for 1-0 Fort Madison lead.
It looked as if the accidental goal would be the only one scored in the first half with the score still at 1-0 with 5:20 remaining, but Washington responded with a goal of their own to tie the game during the fifth minute.
“In the first 20 minutes, we weren’t executing what we wanted to do very well,” Wellman said. “We were miss-hitting the ball, putting it out of bounds, hitting to a white player instead of a red player. We simply discussed we are doing OK things, we just have to execute … just simple technical things that we needed to tidy up.”
After the first-half struggles, the flood gates opened early for the Hounds in the second half.
Austin Sexton took advantage of a penalty kick under five minutes into the half, as Washington’s goalie didn’t even attempt to dive for the save knowing he was beat.
Not even a minute had ran off the scoreboard when Sexton again came through for Fort Madison, this time picking up an assist from Reuben Eid to make it a 3-1 contest.
Less than 10 minutes after Eid assisted Sexton on his goal, Eid took a hard shot to the ear, going to the ground in pain.
Whether it be motivation from the pain or working the offense to perfection, Eid was able to give the Hounds a comfortable 4-1 cushion in the fourth minute thanks to an AJ Nolting assist.
With the game in the bag for Fort Madison, Washington was able to salvage some pride, scoring one final goal with 35 seconds left before the Hounds came away with the 4-2 victory.
“These past two years we haven’t really been good,” Sexton said with a chuckle. “We’ve only graduated a couple and have been building and building. Before this game, we were 0-4 against Washington in the conference. If you were to go back and look at the scores of those games, it would be easy to tell that we came back … We work and we work and we work and we reap the rewards of winning games now.”
Justin Bowker collected 10 saves for the Hounds. Fort Madison is now 5-5 on the season and 3-1 in the conference. The Bloodhounds next match is tomorrow against Keokuk back at Baxter’s Sports Complex.