Pothitakis scores three in 5-0 win over Mediapolis
BY JOHN BOHNENKMAP
FORT MADISON – Fort Madison’s boys soccer team learned more from a loss than a win heading into the Class 2A substate tournament.
Monday’s 5-0 win over Mediapolis at the Baxter Sports Complex closed the regular season for the Bloodhounds (12-5), who open the postseason at home against Mount Pleasant on Tuesday night.
Mitchell Pothitakis had three goals and Leif Boeding and Payton Lambert scored once for the Bloodhounds, who took advantage of Mediapolis (10-6) playing one player down after a red card nine minutes into the match.
That made it difficult for coach Kevin Wellman to identify what went right for the Bloodhounds just two days after a 3-0 loss to Newton.
“It’s hard to tell for sure — they played a man down basically the whole game,” Wellman said. “We played better than we played at Newton, but you never know. Was that because we weren’t pressured as much because (Mediapolis) had 10 (players), so we had more time to play a better ball? I’m not sure.
“At Newton, we played with enough hustle, I feel like. But here we played with more. So that’s definitely part of it.”
Boeding gave Fort Madison a 1-0 lead less than a minute after Mediapolis’ Jack Myers picked up the red card. Pothitakis made it a 2-0 game after his goal with 14:51 to play in the first half, one that bounced off the right post and into the net.
Pothitakis then scored his next two goals in the first 23 seconds of the second half. Lambert closed the scoring with a goal with 2:59 to play.
Now the Bloodhounds head into the postseason with their first match at home. The substate semifinal is also scheduled for the Baxter Sports Complex, with the final set for Pella High School, a stadium that has artificial turf.
That made Saturday’s match against Newton, which plays on artificial turf, so important.
“The road to state is on Pella’s turf field,” Wellman said. “That was part of the reason we went to Newton, at the time of the year we went there, to get on turf and to play a team that is a top-notch team. They were good. They beat us in the air, their throw-ins and their corner kicks, and that identified something we needed to work on. Yes, it was very beneficial, even though we lost, to give us an idea of what we still have to work on. And it was obvious what we still have to work on.”
The Bloodhounds swept through Southeast Conference play even though they lost two of their top goal scorers, Jacob Pothitakis and Xander Wellman, to season-ending knee injuries.
“I like where we’re at, all things considered,” Kevin Wellman said. “This group of kids is still really a tight-knit group. As a coach, I can’t ask for anything better than that.
“We still are struggling to score with those injured (players) gone, because they were our two forwards. It doesn’t change a whole lot of the rest of the team. We’re very strong on defense, very, very strong in the midfield. But we’re going to win those games. Going forward, we’re going to win those games.”