Last year’s Columbia soccer squad had state title dreams and entered the regional final unbeaten before a stunning overtime loss to Triad. The team’s motto for 2018 has been “Road to Redemption” partly for that reason.
The Eagles earned some of that redemption Saturday, edging Marquette, 3-2, to win the Class 2A Bethalto Regional. Columbia (20-3-3) advances to the Triad Sectional, where it will battle Marion on Tuesday.
Both teams were facing a stiff crosswind on the grass field Saturday at Bethalto, and Marquette struck first in the game’s 12th minute.
Columbia evened things up at 1-1 when Karson Bridges scored on a stunning side volley from six yards out in the 24th minute.
With four minutes remaining until halftime, the Eagles took the lead on a head ball goal by Alex Barton off a pass from Charlie Harres.
What was a clean and skilled first half turned into a much more physical and desperate second half, especially for Marquette. The Explorers came out kicking after halftime, launching multiple shots on goal in the first few minutes and engaging in more forceful contact with the Eagles.
Columbia notched an important goal eight minutes into the half, however, as Micah Peters scored from eight yards out to make it a 3-1 game.
Marquette continued to mount heavy pressure, and it finally paid off with a goal to make it 3-2.
But Columbia’s defense held strong from there to send the Eagles to the sectional round.
The teams had split their two previous meetings this season, with Marquette winning 1-0 on Sept. 29 and Columbia winning 3-2 on Oct. 9.
For photos from Saturday’s game, click here.