Eagles top Hawks in Battle of the Birds

Columbia’s Kyle Gudeman protects the ball from Gibault’s Wes Degener as Nick Row watches. (Andrea Degenhart photo)

Last Tuesday, Columbia hosted Gibault in one of the most anticipated soccer matches of the season. The game certainly lived up to the hype, and after an emotional, hard-fought battle in the mist, the Eagles came out on top with a 2-1 victory over their cross-county rivals.

“It was definitely a big win in the sense of a good, long rivalry,” Columbia coach Jason Mathenia said.

Columbia utilized their home field advantage and looked much more comfortable on the turf football field, controlling possession for most of the first half. Kyle Gudeman’s rebound with 17 minutes left in the half gave the Eagles a 1-0 lead going into the break.

A pumped up Gibault squad came out firing in the second half. The Hawks evened the possession game and put together several scoring chances, but the Eagles were up to the challenge, applying their own offensive pressure. A scramble in the Gibault box resulted in a penalty shot for Columbia. Standout midfielder Andrew Dossett fired a rocket past the outstretched hands of Hawks keeper Austin Gregson, giving Columbia a 2-0 lead with 24 minutes left in the game.

With 13 minutes remaining, Gibault made things interesting. Frank Mantia played a nifty ball ahead to teammate Tyler Enright, who finished for his third goal of the season, cutting the Eagles’ lead to one.

With the Gibault defense pushed up in an attempt to tie the game, Columbia took advantage of a great defensive clearance and received a breakaway with three minutes left. A takedown out of sheer desperation earned the Eagles another penalty kick, and Gibault goalie Austin Gregson a red card. It was one of many cards issued in the physical game, the rest of them yellow.

Gibault defender Wes Degener took over in goal to face the penalty. Dossett stepped to the spot for Columbia, hoping to score his second goal of the night and seal the game, but his shot rattled the crossbar and missed.

Gibault’s Mitch Meyer goes up against Columbia’s Sam Harres as Sean Rickey advances. (John Hooser photo)

The Hawks were unable to seize any momentum from the miss, however, and Columbia held on for the 2-1 victory.

It was a sweet victory for the Eagles, who lost to Gibault three times last fall, including in the regional championship game.

“They’ve gotten the better of us in the past and so it was nice to get a win,” Mathenia said. “More importantly, this is a huge momentum and confidence booster. We’ve got a lot of big games to prepare for and we want to stay hot.”

The Eagles are certainly hot, and have been so all season. Mathenia has been amped about his team’s offense since the preseason, and his tone didn’t change on Tuesday night.

“I’ve been saying it all year, but we have so many players who are dangerous in the offensive half of the field and especially the offensive third,” he said.

One of those dangerous players is Dossett, who put together another remarkable performance.

“Dossett was huge tonight,” Mathenia said. “He played very well against a tough defense.”

On the other side, Gibault coach Matt Reeb was disappointed with the result.

“What was upsetting is that we really got out of our game,” he said. “We got down and started panicking and getting out of formation. We were also out of shape defensively, which led to the breakaways.”

Despite the unsatisfying result, Reeb was able to look at the positives from the game.

“We played well in the second half,” he said. “Our offense definitely looked better as the game went on.”

Both coaches stressed the importance of refocusing after an emotional, hard-fought game.

“No doubt it’s a big win, but we have bigger things in our future,” Mathenia said.

The Eagles certainly had no trouble refocusing, as they followed up Tuesday’s win with a 15-0 obliteration of Valmeyer. Dossett and teammate Matt Tudor led the way with a hat trick apiece, and Sean Rickey had four assists for Columbia.

Gibault, meanwhile, battled to a tie against Belleville West. Senior Wes Degener scored early in the second half, and the Hawks had several chances to put the game away, but were unable to convert. Belleville tied the score on a sensational free kick with five minutes remaining.

Both teams are competing in separate brackets of the CYC Tournament this week.

Other soccer action

Waterloo’s win streak finally ended at five games with a 4-2 loss to Triad. The Knights jumped out to a 3-0 halftime lead. Tyler Begis and Cole Kaiping scored to help the Bulldogs make a game out of it, but it wasn’t enough.

Two days earlier, Waterloo defeated Highland 4-0. Austin Evans put his team on the scoreboard with 14 minutes left in the first half, firing a torpedo from outside the box. Teammate Tyler Begis scored just three minutes later, and the Bulldogs went into the half with a 2-0 lead. Begis would add his second goal of the night, and Clay Metz added another goal as Waterloo rolled to victory.

Waterloo is in the same bracket as Gibault in the CYC Tournament. The cross-town rivals faced off Tuesday, battling to a 1-1 tie.

Valmeyer had a tough week.

Along with the loss to Columbia, the Pirates also fell to Wood River and Affton.

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