Soccer teams keep kicking

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Gibault’s Antonio Pepe corrals the ball during the first half of Monday’s 3-2 win over Granite City. See more photos at republictimes.mycapture.com. (Corey Saathoff photo)

Columbia continues to impress, Gibault is on the upswing, and Waterloo and Valmeyer are taking their lumps on the soccer pitch so far this spring.

The Eagles improved to 6-1 with a 2-1 win at Waterloo on the old grass field off Rogers Street. 

The Bulldogs led 1-0 at halftime in a muddy affair, but Karson Bridges and Jonah James scored in the second half as Columbia slogged ahead to victory.

On Friday, the Eagles had a much easier time in an 8-0 win at Freeburg. James scored three goals and added two assists. Dane Jordan also recorded a hat trick.

Last Tuesday, the Eagles won 5-0 at home against Gibault. Columbia’s Tate Schilling notched two goals against his former team and Aaron Rahn recorded a goal and two assists.

Bridges and James each have 10 goals on the season to lead the Eagles, who played at Salem on Tuesday.

After dropping their first two matches, Gibault has impressed of late.

The Hawks battled to a 1-1 tie at Belleville West on Saturday. Antonio Pepe scored and Nick Chambers made six saves in net for Gibault.

On Monday, the Hawks avenged last year’s Class 3A regional defeat by edging Granite City, 3-2. 

Gibault took a 3-0 lead into halftime thanks to two goals by Collin Shields and another by McKenzie Haudrich.

“The energy and momentum were strong and we seemed to be in sync as a team,” Gibault head coach Darryn Haudrich said of the first half. “From a coaches’ perspective, it was fun to watch and be a part of.” 

The second half was a different story. Things got chippy between the two teams, leading to a red card issued against each team.

“There was a scuffle following Granite City’s first goal and between pushing and shoving led to the removal of two players, one for each team,” the Gibault coach explained. “After that the momentum changed and seemed to swing in Granite’s favor, leaving us to fend off and fight for the remainder of the contest.”

The coach credited freshman Brain Lance for his goaltending efforts in the game’s final 20 minutes.  

“He came up with some huge saves to close out the game,” Haudrich said. 

The coach said his team has struggled to find ways to lead early in games and also close them out.

“This time, we were able to execute both,” he said. “It was a gutsy and exhilarating win that was much needed for a team looking for their identity.” 

Gibault (1-3-1) played at Mater Dei on Tuesday, falling 2-0, and will battle cross-town rival Waterloo at Oerter Park in Columbia on Monday.

The Bulldogs (2-5) had dropped five straight before posting a win in penalty kicks Tuesday against Highland. Jacob Charron made nine saves in net and Trevor Lewis notched a first-half goal for Waterloo.

Prior to Monday’s home loss to Columbia, the Bulldogs lost 6-1 to Jerseyville on Friday in a match that was played at Columbia High School due to poor playing conditions in Waterloo. Zach Kenz scored the lone goal for Waterloo. 

Last Tuesday, the Bulldogs dropped a 5-0 contest at Triad. Triad’s goalie was credited with four saves in the match.

Waterloo hosts Civic Memorial on Thursday in advance of Monday’s tilt with the Hawks.

Valmeyer opened its season with a 1-0 loss to Carlyle on Thursday, which was followed by a 5-1 defeat at the hands of Salem on Monday. Vincent Oggero scored the goal for the Pirates. Jake Kempfer and Nick Lueck each had four shots for Valmeyer and Jake Killy made 10 saves in net.

Valmeyer played at Freeburg on Tuesday, falling 5-0, and hosts Wesclin on Thursday.

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