It’s do or die time for Monroe County high school soccer teams as regional action gets underway.
The Class 1A Columbia Regional is stacked with Althoff, Gibault and Columbia all lumped together. The Hawks and Eagles added another page to a long-standing soccer rivalry on Tuesday night, squaring off in the first round at CHS. Visit www.republictimes.net for a game recap.
Gibault ended its regular season with two solid results, and the Hawks look primed for yet another postseason run.
After earning a nice 2-1 victory over Collinsville last Monday, Gibault battled to a scoreless draw against a very good O’Fallon team. The Hawks finished the regular season with a record of 7-4-4, and head coach Matt Reeb liked the way his team was playing heading into the playoffs.
“I feel like we are well rested, hungry, and playing well,” he said.
With several fresh faces in the starting lineup this year, Reeb knew there would be some growing pains. But the less experienced underclassmen gradually grew accustomed to the level of play.
“Some of the younger players found their role as the season went along,” Reeb said. “I think the future looks bright with very talented freshman and sophomore classes. I’m excited for the future and pleased with the way some of them have grown this year.”
While acknowledging the improvements of his younger players, Reeb noted the team could not have made the strides it did without strong senior leadership.
Andrew Reinholz, Ethan Shields, Zach Rueter and Dylan McCoy helped to guide the team through bumps in the road, and helped the underclassmen become assimilated into the culture of Gibault soccer.
“Their experience, especially in big games, has been helpful this year,” Reeb said. “Those seniors bring a competitive toughness that the underclassmen have slowly started to pick up on, a toughness needed to win big games.”
While it is unusual to play such a high-quality opponent in the first round of the playoffs, Reeb had his team ready.
“We need to stay focused and take one game at a time,” he said prior to Tuesday’s match. “We knew we would
have to beat them (Columbia) to reach our goals, so whether it’s in the regional or the sectional, we will have to be on our game.”
Gibault and Columbia battled to a 1-1 double overtime draw earlier in the regular season.
Columbia wrapped up the regular season with a loss and a win. The loss came to Summit, as the Eagles fell 3-1. Cameron Roth scored the game’s lone goal. Two days later, the Eagles bounced back to defeat Alton, 2-1, in overtime. Senior Matthew Roderick scored in regulation, and junior Sean Rickey was the hero in overtime, scoring on one of his trademark flip throw-ins.
Injuries over the final few weeks of the season meant the Eagles had some mixed lineups down the stretch, as head coach Jason Mathenia rested several regulars.
“We weren’t at our best at the end of the year,” Mathenia said. “We had to make some adjustments. But the guys played hard every night.”
Columbia finished the regular season with a 14-3-2 record, and Mathenia was pleased with another solid year. The Eagles once again racked up double-digit victories, and Mathenia even found positives in the team’s three defeats (Timberland, Neuqua Valley and Summit).
“All of our losses were to really good, quality teams,” he said. “I can’t really complain about any of the losses.”
Columbia now turns its focus to the postseason. The Eagles were trying to avenge last year’s sectional loss to the Hawks, which ended their season.
“We really thought we should have beaten them last time,” Mathenia said of the regular season draw. “And we feel like that game was taken away from us. We’re anxious to prove something this time around.”
Waterloo was in action three times last week. The ‘Dogs crushed Civic Memorial, 5-0, last Monday. Clay Metz scored twice and Tyler Begis, Kane Osterhage and Tyler Grob scored a goal apiece.
The next day, the Bulldogs visited Mascoutah and emerged with a 2-0 victory. Metz scored both goals.
Last Thursday, the ‘Dogs hosted Highland in an important conference clash. In a thrilling game, Waterloo came out on top, 3-2, in overtime. Dalton Berg, Jared Goessling, and Tyler Begis scored. The victory helped the Bulldogs clinch at least a share of the Mississippi Valley Conference regular season title.
Even in the midst of the MVC championship chase, Bulldogs head coach Chad Holden took time to reflect upon his senior class. Waterloo’s 10 seniors have traveled a long road.
“A lot of them were thrown into the starting lineup their sophomore year,” Holden tells. “They didn’t have much experience, but I kept telling them that they would improve. It was great to watch them gain confidence and experience over the next couple of years. And now, here we are, having an amazing season. These guys deserve it.”
Happy as he is at how the team has grown over the years, Holden wants more than just a great regular season. The ‘Dogs head coach thinks his team has just as good a chance as any to make a deep postseason run.
The road to state begins next Tuesday when the Bulldogs host Salem at Waterloo High School at 5 p.m.
“We’re ready for it,” Holden said. “We’ve been taking time off to let some nagging injuries heal, and then we start all over.”
Whatever happens in the playoffs, Holden says his team can walk away from this season with heads held high.
“The guys have really worked hard, and I’m really proud of them.”
Valmeyer’s historic season came to an end Friday, as the Pirates lost 6-0 to Freeburg in the Columbia Class 1A Regional quarterfinal.
The Pirates finished with a school record nine wins this season.