Wellington’s first of season lifts United to victory
GUELPH – Brandon Wellington sure picked a great time to score his first goal of the League1 Ontario Men’s Premier soccer league season for Guelph United.
The 6-foot-3 defender snuck to the front of the net where he leaped to head home a cross from Jared Agyemang 10 minutes into the second half to break a deadlock and give United a 3-2 victory over Milton’s Scrosoppi FC Saturday at Alumni Stadium.
Guelph United 3 Scrosoppi FC 2
“Honestly, it was just the right place at the right time,” Wellington said. “It was a great team effort and a great ball from Jared to pick me out. I just got to the spot hoping the ball came in and it was a perfect cross. It was an easy finish for me, the hard work came from the other guy.”
While United had beaten Scrosoppi earlier in the season, they expected another close battle and they got it.
“We played them in Milton and it was a tough game,” said United coach Keith Mason. “We won 1-0 on a late penalty and they battled and they fought and they did the same here today. They’re not an easy team. They haven’t won a lot of games, but they’re in every game — every game. And it’s usually a one-goal game when you play Milton. They’re a very good team and they battle and they make it hard.”
The teams had each netted a pair of goals in the first half, the locals coming from behind twice to keep the score even at halftime.
Nik Blaskovic opened the scoring for the visitors early in the match before United’s Jace Kotsopoulos, the league’s scoring leader, netted his 12th goal of the season to tie it eight minutes later.
The stalemate lasted for 10 minutes until Scrosoppi hit again, Santos Morgado collected the goal.
United pulled even again as Tomasz Skublak put in his seventh goal of the campaign.
“You know, we came through some adversity today,” Mason said. “We had a bench full of reserve players and three of them came on the second half and did a great job for us. We’re missing a lot of players with injury or university and we stepped up to the plate and battled so there are a lot of positives to take from that.”
Reserve call-ups Vahan Sargsyan, Arman Moghadasi and Matthew Maslanka got second-half playing time as United was without
According to United’s website, their first team includes 10 players who are also on the University of Guelph Gryphons varsity men’s team. Three of them – goalkeepers Svyatoslav Artemenko and Marek Walczak and midfielder Evan Dick played Saturday as the Gryphons were to play a league game in London Sunday.
“Because we play (Sunday) in Western, we just can’t put the bodies through that,” said Mason who is also head coach of the Gryphons. “This particular weekend we have back-to-back so we had to make a choice which one we’re going to play in. Most of the university guys didn’t play today, but the next couple of games after Thanksgiving the university doesn’t play for a couple of weeks so we’ll have pretty well a full squad for a couple of weeks again. That’s going to be good for us. At a key time of the season, we’re going to have everybody available.”
Saturday’s game was United’s first home game since a 5-4 win over ProStars Brampton Aug. 21.
“To win the game at home after being on the road for so long and getting my first goal as the winning goal in the game, it feels good,” Wellington said.
For Wellington, this season is his first in Canada after playing three years for UMF Álftanes of Iceland’s fifth division.
“I got some experience playing overseas there,” he said. “It was a great experience, unfortunately things didn’t work out and I had to come back, but it’s good that I can come back and play for a quality team like Guelph.”
And how does the L1O league compare to the league in Iceland?
“I would say the quality and decision making, that’s the big thing,” Wellington replied. “The technical ability here in Canada is great. The quality and decision making (in Iceland) I think is the big difference.”
Following the weekend’s games, United (7-1-0) and FC London (7-2-0) are tied atop the West Division with 21 points apiece while Blue Devils FC (6-1-2) of Oakville are third with 20. United has a game in hand on both, something they’ll make up when they play three times in a stretch of 10 days starting this Saturday.
United have four games left on their regular-season schedule starting with a game Sunday against Windsor TFC (0-8-1) at Windsor’s Libro Centre at 4 p.m.
Wellington is to get married Saturday, but he says he and most of the wedding party will be in Windsor the following day.
“We’re a football family so I’ll be at the game,” he said. “She knows that marrying a football player, this is the life that we live. We’re a football family. She supports me whole-heartedly and she loves coming out to the games. Unfortunately, she couldn’t be here today because she’s got her bachelorette party. Once the season is done, we’ll take time out and get away.”
- Guelph Sports Journal