The high school soccer season got off to a scintillating start last week, with rivalry games galore and some pretty intense match-ups.
Columbia and Gibault have enjoyed the most early season success to date, with positive showings from Waterloo and Valmeyer as well.
The Eagles are off to a 4-0-1 start after winning the Nike bracket of the Metro Cup last week.
Columbia opened with a 1-0 victory over Althoff last Monday, followed by a 3-0 win over rival Gibault, a 1-1 tie against Springfield, and victories over O’Fallon and Belleville West.
“We didn’t play our best (against Althoff), but good enough to win,” Columbia head coach Jason Mathenia assessed.
Sam Spivey scored the game’s only goal for the Eagles in that win.
Last Wednesday, Columbia’s Riley Hubler notched all three goals against Gibault. Goalkeeper Jon Kuebler made four saves for the shutout.
“Things were really clicking for us that game,” Mathenia said. “To beat Gibault is always very satisfying.”
Hubler added another goal in the 1-1 tie Thursday against Springfield. He scored two more goals in the cup-winning game Saturday night against Belleville West.
“Riley’s very athletic. His height and long stride are huge advantages for him,” Mathenia said.
Earlier on Saturday, Columbia survived a physical 1-0 win over O’Fallon to put them in the title game. Zach Schult scored the game’s only goal for the Eagles, but suffered a season-ending leg injury in the same game.
“It’s very unfortunate, as he was coming along very well for us,” Mathenia said.
Kuebler made six saves for the shutout against O’Fallon.
“Without a doubt, he is one of the best goalies in the area,” Mathenia said. “Give him an opportunity to make a save and he’ll make it.”
Spivey scored the other goal in the win against Belleville West.
“If you would’ve asked me beforehand if we’d go 4-0-1 in the Metro Cup against the teams we played, I would have said our chances are slim,” Mathenia said. “Those were some very good teams. We just have to keep up our intensity now.”
Gibault placed third in the Metro Cup following its season-opening win over rival Waterloo last Monday. The tourney included a 1-0 win in penalty kicks over O’Fallon on Saturday night.
“I’ve been impressed with the level of play from the Hawks early on in the season,” Gibault head coach Darryn Haudrich assessed. “It was a grueling stretch of six games in six days, with really only one poor performance against rival Columbia.”
Haudrich pointed to last Tuesday’s game against Springfield as his team’s most impressive showing of the tournament.
The Hawks scored three goals against a strong program, which the coach said set the tone for the week.
Haudrich said the Columbia loss “was a result of mental and physical fatigue as well as lapses in judgment, leading to us working against ourselves.”
Gibault showed resilience in coming back the next night to down another rival, Althoff.
On Saturday, Gibault dropped a 3-1 contest to Belleville West before the exciting victory over O’Fallon.
“I thought the Hawks had a very strong second half against Belleville West and dominated them with offensive pressure,” Haudrich said.
He said the Hawks were “firing on all cylinders” against O’Fallon.
“I felt that our level of play was high, competitive spirit was strong and capturing third place as a result was an accurate depiction of how well we performed,” Haudrich said.
The coach pointed to strong performances from Karson Huels, Aaron Grohmann, Jordan Floerke and Connor Olson in the first week of the season.
Gibault (3-2-1) plays at Marquette on Wednesday and will host Mater Dei on Tuesday.
Waterloo is off to a 2-4 start to the season. The Bulldogs lost two of three close contests in the Carbondale tournament before blasting Civic Memorial on Monday night.
The ‘Dogs opened tourney play with a 2-1 win over Anna-Jonesboro on Friday night. Josh Kaiping and Hayden Reese scored the goals, with Caden Gordon picking up two assists.
On Saturday, Waterloo lost to Cape Girardeau Central, 2-1, and Perryville, 3-2. Kohler scored the goal for Waterloo against Cape Girardeau. He scored a goal and added an assist against Perryville, with Dean Rayfield notching the other goal.
Waterloo opened Mississippi Valley Conference play with a 7-1 trouncing of CM on Monday. Kohler scored three goals and added an assist. Gordon scored two goals with an assist.
Kohler has five goals and two assists to lead the Bulldogs.
The ‘Dogs will play at Belleville West on Thursday and at Freeburg on Tuesday before hosting CM next Wednesday.
Valmeyer (1-3) opened the season with losses to Mater Dei and Freeburg last week before toppling Wesclin on Thursday, 2-1.
Trevor McClellan collected a goal and an assist in the win. Ryan Brinkmann notched the other goal for the Pirates. Goalkeeper Riley McCarthy madenine saves in net.
On Monday, the Pirates suffered a 12-2 loss at the hands of Gateway Science Academy in St. Louis.
Valmeyer plays in the Hancock tournament this weekend.