Eagles storm to sectional title with rout of Wesclin

Columbia’s Adam Becker dribbles past a Wesclin defender. (Greg Stanek photo)

The Columbia soccer team has had a wild, crazy and hectic week.

First, there was the thrilling, back-and-forth penalty kick victory over Anna-Jonesboro in the sectional semifinal on Tuesday. Then, there was confusion surrounding the time and location of the sectional final. The title tilt with Wesclin was originally scheduled for Friday evening at SIUE’s turf field, but the Warriors successfully appealed to the IHSA to move the game to Saturday afternoon at Metro East Lutheran High School’s grass field.

When all the chaos cleared, the Eagles did what they do best: play soccer. Columbia proved that time and place would not matter, dominating Wesclin in every aspect of the game while rolling to an easy 6-0 win to claim the sectional championship.

Sean Rickey got the ball rolling for the Eagles with 26 minutes left in the half. The junior midfielder had a good look at the goal, and unloaded a 30-yard bomb into the top corner. That goal opened the floodgates for Columbia. Five minutes later, CHS scored again when Scott Gannon chipped a ball over the head of the Warriors keeper and into the net. Gannon added another goal just minutes later, tapping home a nice pass from Ryan Gudeman to make it 3-0.

Cameron Roth’s header off a Rickey throw-in gave the Eagles a 4-0 lead at halftime.

The second half was rather uneventful, as Columbia continued to impose its will on Wesclin, controlling a large majority of possession. The rest of the game was nice and easy for the Eagles, who were able to rest their starters for most of the second half. The only notable moments of the second half came with 17 minutes left, when Gudeman scored on a header to make it 5-0, and in the final minute, when Dalton Verrett pushed the lead to 6-0.

Columbia head coach Jason Mathenia was thrilled with the way his team played, particularly after the exasperating situation regarding time and location of the game.

“It was sort of a frustrating week with the constant phone calls and changes of venues and times,” he said. “But we came out today and played well.”

Mathenia also felt as though his team proved a point: that they were just as dangerous on grass as they are on turf.

“It was extra motivation, absolutely,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that it was known that it doesn’t really matter what type of surface we play on. We came into this game confident.”

Columbia moves on to the Collinsville Supersectional, where they will face off against Springfield Lutheran at 6 p.m. on Tuesday for a trip to state.

“We will be well prepared,” Mathenia promised. “The guys are focused and ready.”

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