Mitchell Pothitakis, Xander Wellman each score four times in 10-0 win over 15th-ranked Grayhounds
BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Following Thursday’s 10-0 shutout of Keokuk, Fort Madison Head Coach Kevin Wellman said Monday’s game with 15th-ranked Burlington wasn’t going to be easy.
Whether it was the cold, windy climate, a home field advantage, or the Hounds just playing really good soccer right now, something made Monday’s 10-0 shutout of the Grayhounds seem easy.
“I just have to chalk it up to every one of my players played a great game today. Each player played well individually and the combination of all of them together – they just had really good chemistry. We’re just playing really well right now,” Wellman said following the shutout.
“Burlington’s a better team than they showed today and I’m going to tell my guys when we go to Bracewell, they’ll be a better team than today. So we’ll hopefully be ready for them the next time.”
The two squads played a fairly even match through the first 10 minutes with Fort Madison controlling the field position battle. With the defense pulled up, midfielder Austin Miller sent a ball over to junior forward Xander Wellman who raced down the center and faked out BHS keeper Adrian Salas to the left and buried one in the right side of the net to break open the scoring.
Mitchell Pothitakis, who had four goals on the night, scored just 2:40 later unassisted and then Wellman, who also had four goals in the win, swiped the reset pass and raced in for a 3-0 lead just 11 seconds later.
He would complete the hat-trick less than three minutes later with another goal to make it 4-0, and Fort Madison began to feel the pressure of the matchup between the two Southeast Conference front runners begin to ease.
Burlington came into the match at 4-0 and ranked 15th in Class 3A. Fort Madison just climbed into the rankings at 4-3 in Class 2A at No. 13. The Hounds lost to 10th-ranked Burlington Notre Dame to open the year without Wellman and starting goalie Rieburn Turnbull, who had to sit that game after getting a red card.
Fort Madison then lost to Class 3A No. 2 Iowa City Liberty 7-0 at the Hounds Invitational last Saturday. They also fell to Class 3A No. 10 Davenport North 2-1 in a sudden-death penalty kick session. They won 3-0 over Clear Creek-Amana in the tourney.
The biggest loss may have come when junior Jacob Pothitakis went down with season-ending injuries to his leg on a penalty kick.
Xander Wellman, who has seven goals in the last two games, said it’s a different feel without the second Pothitakis on the field.
“We have to give a lot more. When you take a really helpful player like Jacob out, you have to work to get that position back. Losing him really hurt,” Wellman said.
“We kept the same offense from last year so we have that chemistry. Mitchell and I still have that same connection. But it’s harder to find the paths because Jacob isn’t there.”
At the 20:28 mark Wellman would find freshman Leif Boeding near the goal for a 5-0 lead and then Boeding would pay it forward with an assist to freshman Henry Graham with 17 minutes remaining in the first half and the route was on.
Mitchell Pothitakis would score with 2:43 left on assists from Miller and Phillip Goldie who had pushed all the way up from his defender spot. Pothitakis would get his 3rd goal with 18 seconds left in the half off a free kick at the half circle that he blazed past a 3-man fence and into the right side of the net for an 8-0 halftime lead.
Pothitakis would score five minutes into the 2nd half off assists from Miller, his third of the night, and Phillip Goldie. Wellman would finish things off with a nice steal and forward from Oliver Santiago that was then pushed by Boeding over to Wellman racing up the left side and through the middle to set the 10-goal mercy rule.
Kevin Wellman said Xander, who sat out the Hounds’ first six games after getting his second red card of the year at Pella’s substate last year, gives Fort Madison a deep threat.
“Having that threat opens a lot of things up for us. It’s like having a speedy receiver that forces the secondary to play back a bit,” he said.
“I think if we play like we did today, we could roll through the conference, but I can’t bank on that. Washington was a tough game and when we go to Bracewell it’s going to be a tougher game. But if we keep playing like we did today…”
Reiburn Turnbull had one save in preserving the shutout.
The junior varsity squad won 3-0 on two goals by Jamarkus Kline. Conner Gehling had five saves in the win.
The Bloodhounds, 5-3 (4-0 in Southeast Conference play), now have a one-game lead over BHS and Washington in the Southeast Conference and host Mt. Pleasant (2-6, 0-4) Thursday at the Baxter Sports Complex.