Hounds knock off Washington 4-0 to meet at No. 8 Pella Wednesday night
BY JOHN BOHNENKAMP
FORT MADISON – Two goals in the span of 97 seconds put Fort Madison’s boys soccer team at ease, and helped the Bloodhounds get within one match of going to the state tournament.
Mitchell Pothitakis scored twice in the first half, and the Bloodhounds added two more second-half goals in Monday’s 4-0 win over Washington in a Class 2A substate semifinal at the Baxter Sports Complex.
Fort Madison (14-5) will play at Pella (16-2) in Wednesday’s substate final. It’s a rematch of last season’s final, in which Pella won 1-0 on penalty kicks.
“Last year, it was a tough loss, but we played well,” Pothitakis said. “I think we’re ready this time.”
The Bloodhounds have won their last three matches, outscoring their opponents 17-0. But the Demons (12-5) had challenged Fort Madison twice this season, losing 2-1 and 3-1.
But when Pothitakis scored with 33:06 left in the first half, then added another goal at the 31:29 mark, the Bloodhounds had a control of the match that they wouldn’t surrender.
“Two goals can be easy (to rally from) if you play hard,” Fort Madison coach Kevin Wellman said. “But it can put a little question mark in your mind. So yeah, (the two goals were) really important, so we can play the same style, but not be as nervous about it. Our style is to play high (on offense). But sometimes when you play high, if you mess up, you let people behind you. When you get a couple of goals, you can breathe easier.”
“Oh, it was huge,” Pothitakis said of the lead. “We got our confidence after that. We knew we could play how we normally play.”
Fort Madison’s defense kept the Demons from mounting any sort of attack. Then the Bloodhounds put the match away with two second-half goals, one from Leif Boeding with 12:11 to play and one from Henry Graham with eight seconds left.
Pothitakis leads the Bloodhounds with 28 goals. He has been the main focus of an offense that lost Jacob Pothitakis and Xander Wellman to knee injuries for most of the season.
“Obviously, he’s been super important,” Kevin Wellman said. “The kid has the knack for getting his body into position to receive the ball. Once he receives the ball, it’s really hard for an opponent to take the ball away from him. His ability to possess takes opportunities away from the other team.”
Xander Wellman, who has a torn ACL that will require surgery to repair, played in Monday’s match, wearing a brace on his right knee. Wellman, who has 14 goals this season, nearly had one in the second half, but his header attempt missed.
“Once he gets his brace, his surgeon said he felt like it wouldn’t be that big of a risk to try it,” said Kevin Wellman, Xander’s father. “He’s not at 100 percent, but he can go out there and add some stability, some confidence for his teammates.”
“He’s great in the middle,” Pothitakis said. “It’s nice having another attacking player at the top. He’s a great all-around player.”
The challenge now is for the Bloodhounds to face the team that ended their run last season.
“Last year, that game was a lot of fun,” Kevin Wellman said. “The coach there, he runs a team, runs a program that has good kids there. They work hard, they’re good sports. Yeah, the ball’s in play and there’s a battle — they’re trying to win, we’re trying to win. It’s nice to go up and there and play a really good team like that, where we don’t have to worry about something stupid happening. It’ll be fun. It’ll be fun.”