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By: Seth Kinker, skinker@thesuntimesnews.com 

On Aug. 20, the season opener for SEC White rivals Chelsea and Dexter was cut short as it was called due to weather nine minutes into the contest.

On Aug. 21, the game resumed with 30:45 in the first half and ended in a 1-1 tie as the Bulldogs (0-0-1) struck first with the Dreadnaughts (0-0-1) answering.

Shortly after the restart on Wednesday, the Dreadnaughts had an early chance. Forward Hayden Newton held onto the ball in the box and found midfielder Noah Lewis diving at the back post. He made contact but it hit the post and went out.

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The Bulldog defense was led by Ruben Furst at center back and Connor McKenzie in net as they’ll look to lean on their defense early in the season while the offense settles in. Early on, the Dreadnaught offense looked to play over the top but were turned away repeatedly.

In the first half, both teams were linking together well and counter-attacking, but neither could get quality chances in the final third.

With under ten minutes remaining in the first half, Newton took a free-kick just outside the 18-yard box but hit the wall.

Newton will be a leader for the Dreadnaughts as they move to division one this year, returning seven starters from last year’s regional final team that includes their goalkeeper, backline, most of their midfield, and three of their top four scorers from last season.

A few minutes later, a ball bounced across the middle of the field on a throw-in. Dreadnaught defender Jack Kolka made contact but sent the ball over the crossbar.

Although the Dreadnaughts won the possession battle as time went on, the Bulldogs saw success with their quick forwards, Nathan Quintana and Jacob Schultz. The Bulldogs utilized their speed by looking to counter quickly with service from Ben Yeasting and Will Barhite.

Third-year Bulldog head coach Jordan Miller told The Sun Times that the opening portion of the canceled game on Aug. 20 showed his team they could hang with the Dreadnaughts.

“First half we got beat up in the middle,” said Dreadnaught assistant coach Jamie Lewis, who was filling in for head coach Drew Ducker, at halftime. “We couldn’t keep possession and didn’t stay disciplined with our game plan to play it through the middle. They made it difficult on us. They had everyone marked, we had no choice but to dump it.”

The Bulldogs got the first good scoring chance in the second half less than five minutes in as the rain and wind picked up for the opening portion of the second stanza. Bulldog defender Jordan Fansler arced a shot that made Dreadnaught goalkeeper Wiley Smith jump to save from falling in.

Then, with 32:11 in the second half, the Bulldogs struck first. Barhite served a ball into the box for Schultz who wheeled around to reset. His pass was deflected and Quintana was the first one there to lay it off inside the 18-yard box near the top of the 6-yard box to a cutting Barhite.

Barhite made contact and a low roller snuck in between Smith’s legs for the 1-0 Bulldog lead.

“That’s exactly what we’ve been doing in training,” said Miller. “We’ve got a lot of speed going down the flanks. Schultz, a very shifty player, made it through the outside and drew that defense in. We’ve talked about being disciplined in the center because the ball will come if we’re in the right spaces. (Barhite) did a good job of finding the net.”

With 28:59, the Bulldogs had a chance to go up 2-0 but missed a penalty kick. Smith had to take out a streaking Quintana in the box but the penalty kick missed wide right.

On a Dreadnaught free kick in the Bulldog half of the field, an elbow to the head of a Dreadnaught player resulted in a penalty kick for Newton. Newton stepped up and buried it with pace with a shot to his right to tie it at one with 26:43 left in the game.

Neither side would score again although both sides had chances.

Barhite hit a turning off-balance shot from more than 25-yards out that forced Smith to backpedal and leap to get a hand on and force it over the crossbar.

The best chance for the Dreadnaughts came with under 20 minutes to go. Dreadnaught Gerzon Herter beat his man and got a ball across the face of the goal with two forwards in the box. Contact was made but not enough to get the ball on frame.

With just under two minutes two go, McKenzie saved the tie for the Bulldogs. A long counter ball was played ahead for Newton to run onto. He beat the Bulldog defenders and got a shot off but McKenzie guessed right and made the kick save.

“Going forward what we talked about was making sure were connecting passes and not panicking to just being at team that plays it on the counter attack,” said Miller. “I thought the boys responded well (after the penalty kick) and continued to play disciplined.”

“I was never worried they weren’t going to respond,” said Lewis after the match, after the Dreadnaughts surrendered the first goal of the game. “They responded well. It’s a new team. This year we have to find our style.”

These two teams will meet against on Sept. 26 in Chelsea.

Photos by Lynne Beauchamp

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