Three games into the 2012 campaign, the Batavia Bulldogs have shown glimpses of brilliance. In a game against Clermont Northeastern on Aug. 23, there were eight such glimpses as the Bulldogs dismantled their Southern Buckeye Conference National Division foes 8-2.
“We started out 1-2 so far,” the Bulldogs’ head coach Kevin Scheel said. “We won a league game (over CNE), lost a tough game to Mariemont and then lost a close one to Purcell 4-3 on Saturday (Aug. 25).
“We’ve had a couple of nagging injuries, but we’re having some players step up and fill in those roles, but that comes with a learning curve.”
Of the Bulldogs’ injury concerns, the main problem has been that one of their goalkeepers went down with a cut knee that required stitches. Batavia has been forced to move their main central defender back into the net, causing a ripple effect of players starting in positions that they are not accustomed to playing.
“Our lineup is pretty much set, all the players that were out with injuries are working themselves back in, just getting more subs,” Scheel said. “We have a solid core and were trying to use our system to dictate the style of game that we play instead of playing our opponent’s style.”
As the season ratchets up, Scheel expects the team to regain their full clean bill of health in time to make runs not only at the National Division of the SBC, but the league as a whole.
“We’re expecting to win our division,” Scheel explained, “but we also want to win the league overall. We have big competition on the other side with teams like New Richmond and Amelia for the overall title. First of all, we want to win our category, but we’d also like to win the entire league.”
Although their record may not be ideal at the minute, they have far from dug themselves an inescapable hole.
Just three games into their season, the Bulldogs have proven to have the edge over CNE and would like to stake their claim in the National Division in the next three matches when they meet Felicity, Georgetown and Blanchester.
A promising piece of the Bulldogs’ early puzzle has been the play of senior Neil Wilson, a forward and midfielder.
“Neil has been living up to his expectations,” Scheel said. “He’s already scored seven goals in our first three games. He’s making himself available to his teammates as well as playing center mid and defense if I need him in those positions.”
While Wilson has accounted for exactly half of the team’s overall goal scoring, he’s not going it alone. Kyle Schmitgen has three goals and an assist to his credit and Scheel believes his ability as a facilitator is what will put the Bulldogs ahead of some of their foes.
“(Schmitgen) has been doing really well on the outside and presenting himself as a constant threat,” the coach said. “He’s making himself available and doing well crossing in corners or serving balls to the 18 where they need to be.”
Scheel has also been impressed by the play of junior midfielder Jordan Davis.
“(Davis) playing center mid has stepped up immensely. He has one goal and two or three assists. He’s done a great job as a facilitator.”
Wilson, Schmitgen and Davis, along with the rest of the Bulldogs, hope to be above .500 when they have their first match up with cross-division rivals Western Brown and New Richmond on Sept. 11 and 13, but in order to do so will have to sweep the next three against National Division opponents.