Two teams have been putting down a road block for local soccer programs and Friday’s post-season title games were no exception.
Gibault fell in a tough 1-0 overtime contest to Alton Marquette in the Class 1A Freeburg Sectional finals, marking the second time a GHS soccer team has lost in the sectional finals to the Explorers this school year.
“We beat Columbia, boys and girls, and then we lose to Alton Marquette both times,” Hawks soccer coach Matt Reeb said. “It’s tough to swallow.”
Waterloo fell to Triad, 2-0, in the Class 2A Triad Regional finals — they lost to the Knights in last year’s regional finals as well, and many times over in numerous games between both the boys and girls programs over the years.
Waterloo coach Chad Holden points to Triad’s location between Edwardsville, Granite City and Fairview Heights as essentially the “showcase of soccer”. The difference, he says, is all of those schools have teams in a higher class and a larger conference — except for Triad.
Both games were regarded as close and physical.Waterloo’s Darby Nugent battles a Triad defender in Saturday’s regional championship. (Greg Stanek photo)
Gibault’s game against Alton Marquette was so close that there was no score at the end of regulation and the game went into overtime. In post-season play, overtime consists of two 10- minute halves.
“We played very well in the second half. We had lots of chances, good opportunities,” Reeb explained. “They kind of had the better play the first half so it was balanced.”
But the scales tipped quickly when Carley Olson was given a red card on a controversial call six and-a-half minutes into the first half of overtime, leaving Gibault down one player for the rest of the contest.
“The play was so physical throughout the game, you better be awfully, awfully sure as an official to take a team and make them go a man down in a sectional championship game, you better be awfully sure,” Reeb said, still in disbelief after the game. “Maybe he was awfully sure. I don’t know.”
“It hurts and we never could recover from that.”
Just under a minute later, the Explorers scored, having the noticeable advantage.
“It was kind of a little fumble around the box,” Reeb explained of the goal. “We couldn’t clear it and it kind of squared-out right to their girl and she put it in.”
Gibault had a chance to tie it up again with 20 seconds left on a penalty kick, when a foul was called in the box on Marquette. But senior Katie Lamack couldn’t clear it and time expired as the Hawks saw their post-season dreams tick away.
Triad kicked off its regional title game one-up on Waterloo, putting the ball in the back of the net with 7:46 to go in the first half.
“I thought we gave them a really good fight,” Holden said, adding that his team came out hard on defense in the first half. “We put a lot of pressure on them in the second half.”
The Bulldogs came out strong in the first eight minutes after halftime, with several scoring chances but were unable to get a goal. WHS’ best chance came when freshman Erika Lloyd split two Triad defenders, but put the shot right into the goalie’s hands. The Knights scored their final goal with just over 10minutes left in the game.
“(Lloyd) had been a pleasant surprise for us,” Holden said. Last week’s Republc-Times Athlete of the Week ends the season as the area’s leading scorer with 15 goals, four of them game winning blasts, and 12 assists. “Good news is we have her for three more years.”
Waterloo loses six seniors to next year’s squad, three of which are going on to play soccer in college.
“Didn’t go quite as far as we wanted to,” Holden said. “We are returning a good nucleus of players who saw that we improved throughout the year and are already excited for next season.”
With additional reporting by Greg Stanek.