Local soccer teams kick off their seasons

Gibault!s Frank Mantia takes a free kick in a game against Free- burg. The Hawks defeated the Midgets, 2-0, Sept. 1, to win the Metro Cup Tournament. (John Hooser photo)

The Gibault soccer team is off to a hot start. The Hawks defeated Freeburg, 2-0, on Saturday to win the Metro Cup championship, wrapping up a perfect week. It was the second time the Hawks and Midgets faced off in this young season, with Gibault notching a 1-0 victory in their season opener Aug. 27.

The Hawks dominated play on Tuesday, but failed to capitalize on several good chances until Andrew Reinholz put one in the net in the 63rd minute.

Saturday’s title game was much more even, featuring plenty of physical play and end-to-end action. Gibault broke through with 15 minutes left in the first half on another Reinholz goal off a perfect pass from Frank Mantia.

The physicality continued into the second half. The Gibault defense, along with goalie Austin Gregson, were able to keep the Midgets at bay, and Reinholz put the game away with another goal with eight minutes remaining.

Hawks coach Matt Reeb said that Freeburg’s hard-nosed play kept the Midgets in the game.

“They came out physical, and we got a little too emotional in our response,” he said. “Give them (Freeburg) credit. Although the score doesn’t show it, they played much tougher tonight than on Tuesday.”

While Reeb was happy with the Hawks’ early success, he knows that greater challenges lie ahead. This week, the Hawks play Alton Marquette, Saint Louis University High, and St. Pius.

“The physicality is going to be brutal,” he said. “We can celebrate tonight, but we need to come out and play better next week.”

Gibault reached the Metro Cup title game by defeating Lebanon and Harrisburg, scoring 16 goals in the process. Reinholz (6), Mitch Meyer (3) and Tyler Enright (2) combined for 11 of those goals. Ethan Shields, Mantia, Ben Mueth, Dalton Scace and Evan Wessel also scored.

Other soccer action…

The Columbia Eagles also had a perfect first week of the season. Coach Jason Mathenia’s team opened the year with a 6-0 shellacking of Highland. Matthew Roderick led the way with two goals, while Andrew Dossett, Patrick McDermott and Quinten Spivey also added scores.

The next day, the Eagles traveled to Granite City. Columbia trailed 1-0 at the half, but exploded for three second half goals from Dossett, Spivey, and Roderick. Coach Mathenia was happy with how strong his team came out in the second half.

“Our halftime talk was really quite simple, I just asked them to play the way they were capable of playing,” he said. “They did what we asked and it paid off.”

Mathenia also praised his defense and goalie.

“They were superb,” he said.

Waterloo’s Corey Vogel tries to keep the ball away from a Belleville East player Aug. 27. Vogel is sidelined after suffering an ankle injury in the Bulldogs third game of the Carbondale Tournament on Saturday. (John Spytek photo)

The win was particularly special for Mathenia, a Granite City alum who played for legendary coach Gene Baker.

“It’s a great feeling, to say the least,” he said. “It was the first time I had beaten Granite City as a coach, so it was pretty special for me.”

Mathenia hopes the big win is a good sign of things to come.

“We’re playing well, but I want to keep improving. I think there’s yet another level of soccer we can get out of them.”

The Waterloo soccer team, meanwhile, is off to a tough but encouraging start. The Bulldogs are 1-3, but all of their games have been close. The season started with a 1-0 loss to Alton. Waterloo played most of the game with just 10 men after an early red card.

The next day, the Bulldogs lost a 5-3 thriller to Belleville East. Waterloo staged a big comeback before the Lancers pulled away at the end.

The Bulldogs got in the win column on Saturday afternoon, defeating Breese Central, 3-2. Dalton Berg, Tyler Begis and John Maag scored for Waterloo. Later in the day, the Bulldogs fell, 4-2, to Cape Central in another close match. Berg and Kane Osterhage scored.

Though it was a difficult week, Coach Chad Holden was proud of his team.

“We have a lot of soccer to go but I have been very impressed with the players’ fighting spirit,” he said. “These guys refuse to give up. We have been competitive in every game and hopefully it’ll carry over long into the season.”

Valmeyer competed in the Metro Cup tournament last week. In their opening game, the Pirates fell to Harrisburg, 7-3. Hunter Brewer, Matt Hemenway and Ryan Unterseh scored for Valmeyer.

On Friday, the Pirates got their first win of the season, defeating Lebanon in the consolation bracket, 3-2. Brewer, Hemenway, and Dylan Long tallied goals.

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