Streaking Blue Devils Grab 4th Win in a Row
Fri. December 07, 2012 at 4:12 a.m. | By Solange Reyner
By BILL KEMP
LEDGER MEDIA GROUP
WINTER HAVEN | Now that football season is over and Scott Wampler has shifted back to the soccer field, Winter Haven is rolling.
The Blue Devils won their fourth consecutive game on Thursday, holding off Lake Wales 3-1 at Denison Stadium, and the backup placekicker's leg delivered the deciding dagger.
Wampler busted up a 1-1 tie two minutes into the second half when he launched a line-drive shot that traveled more than 30 yards — untouched — and snuck under the crossbar to give the Blue Devils the lead for good.
"The way he strikes the ball, it's almost like a knuckleball, and basically it dove and the keeper had no chance," said Winter Haven head coach Bill Desmond, who shifted Wampler from defender to forward a few games following his return. "He had played forward last year so we tried him out there, and the first game back at forward he scored two goals. And he's been scoring goals ever since."
Lake Wales had won three of its last four games entering the Class 3A, District 13 matchup, its second of the year against Winter Haven, but the Highlanders were forced to rest key cogs Clay Thornhill and Jonah Johnson with injuries.
"It was the perfect storm, our captains couldn't play fully," Lake Wales head coach Jose Andres Rojas said. "However, I give it to Winter Haven. They played a heck of a game."
The two teams played to a 1-1 tie earlier in the season, but the action started faster in this one.
Andrew Calix headed home a lofty corner kick from Ryan Smith to stake Winter Haven to an early but brief 1-0 lead at the 35:40 mark of the first half.
"We work on set plays a lot, especially corners," Desmond said. "We always want to put someone (Calix) on the keeper and that's where the goal came from. … We've done it a few times lately and it always seems to be with the guy that is marking the keeper."
Less than two minutes later Lakes Wales tied the game 1-1 when Blue Devils' goalkeeper Chris Desmond blocked a penalty kick, and Highlander Jose Gonzales drilled the deflection straight into the back of the net.
Winter Haven controlled the field position through the bulk of the second half which eventually led to a Juan Bautista goal with 10 minutes remaining, icing the game for the Blue Devils.