Hounds' win sets up conference title clash Wednesday

Rung scores twice on headers as Fort Madison rolls 5-1


MT. PLEASANT – The Bloodhounds didn’t want to look ahead to Wednesday’s conference title battle with Washington, so they had to use their heads in Monday’s win over Mt. Pleasant.
And senior Maddox Rung did just that as he scored two minutes into the first half on a header off a corner kick from Leif Boeding. The ball came in a little high and Rung went up on a break to the middle of the box and diverted the ball with the side of his head into the back top of the net for a quick 1-0 lead.
The goal set the tone for a game that would be played mostly on Fort Madison’s side of the pitch save for a few shots behind the defense that Fort Madison keeper Conner Gehling was able to contain until the second half.
Fort Madison would score again about three minutes later on another shot in the middle for a 2-0 lead.
Mt. Pleasant would then rotate in a new keeper and held the Bloodhounds scoreless despite eight more shots in the half. One was another headshot from Rung, but this time the ball was knocked away and cleared by the Panther defense.
The Hound defense was putting on a little display of their own holding Mt. Pleasant to just one shot at the 25:45 mark, a dynamic not lost on Fort Madison Head Coach Kevin Wellman.
“The biggest thing I liked today at times, and we weren’t really consistent with it, but we had some really good midfield play with some nice triangles with midfielders and forwards and we controlled the ball through the thirds - the defensive third, the middle third and the attacking third,” he said.
“We’re really trying to improve on not just sending the ball forward and watching our forward run on it and try to score, but working it up with good possession and more options. In the first 10 minutes it was really good. We just have to work on more consistency with that.”
The attack paid off again with 4:31 left in the first half when Mario Gomez Gutierrez worked the ball through the middle of the Panther defense starting from about 30 feet out zigzagging his way to a shot on goal from about 12 feet that found the back of the net for a 3-0 lead that held up til halftime.
Mt. Pleasant would pick up a goal just 1:40 into the second half. A through ball got behind the Hound defense and a shot that Gehling initially blocked got loose to his left with the defense trying to catch up. The Panthers were able to slide the ball into the left with a Bloodhound diving back into the net trying to slide it away.
Fort Madison would get that point back when Jacob Shottenkirk slid a ball in from the right side of the Hound offense and found Rung again flying in for the header, his second of the night for a goal and a 4-1 Fort Madison lead.
“We’re not necessarily known for being a scoring threat in the air and we kinda were today, at least early on. That was nice for him,” Wellman said.
Rung agreed that was not the Hounds’ normal attack style.
“It’s not how we play. We’re not a send-it-and-win-it-in-the-air kind of team. Those were just great passes. Leif had a great pass and then Jake had a great pass. I was just ready to get my head on it,” he said.
Boeding would wrap up the scoring at the 21:01 mark with a shot high into the left center with the Panther goalie guessing wrong on Boeding’s intentions.
With the win the Hounds improve to 5-1 in Southeast Conference play with one more game left against Washington on Wednesday at the Baxter Sports Complex with a 3:30 p.m. start time. The Demons are 6-1 in loop play and are 9-2 overall with their only losses coming in a penalty kick session to Fort Madison back on April 15, and a 5-0 loss to Muscatine. A win would give Fort Madison the conference title in head-to-head play. A loss would prevent the Bloodhounds from claiming their fourth straight SEC title.
Wellman said he is hoping to get starting forward Henry Graham back for Wednesday’s affair and possibly goalkeeper Oliver Santiago. Fort Madison lost Jamarkus Kline to a season-ending injury early in the season.
“Henry is close, he just was making sure today. He went through warm-ups and took it easy and decided just not quite yet. And we could afford to give him a couple more days,” Wellman said.
Rung said as a senior he’s trying to pull every minute out of every game and wants to help bring one more conference title to Fort Madison.
“We want to be conference champs. We’ve won it the last three years so I want to win it again. And we don’t have that many games left and I just want to take in every moment.”

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