Soccer’s survival of the fittest

The Columbia High School soccer team poses with its regional plaque following Saturday’s overtime victory over Anna-Jonesboro to win the Class 1A Anna-Jonesboro Regional. 

Two local soccer teams are hoping to embark on lengthy postseason journeys while another has gone home early.

The Columbia High School soccer team outlasted Anna-Jonesboro, 2-1, in overtime Saturday to win the Class 1A Anna-Jonesboro Regional championship. 

Following a first-half goal by Keegan O’Bryan to put Columbia up 1-0, Anna-Jonesboro tied the match in the second half. 

Karson Bridges scored in overtime to win it.

The Eagles (14-4-4) advanced to the Columbia Sectional, where they hosted Mater Dei on Tuesday. The result was not known at press time. With a win, Columbia would play Saturday for a sectional title.

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Columbia opened regional play with a 10-0 blasting of Massac County last Tuesday. Jonah James and O’Bryan scored three goals each for the Eagles.

Jones leads Columbia in scoring this season with 26 goals and seven assists, followed by Bridges with 17 goals and nine assists.

Waterloo edged Mississippi Valley Conference rival Triad, 3-2, in penalty kicks Thursday night to earn a share of the MVC crown with the Knights.

Derek Young scored a first half goal for the Bulldogs and Jake Elsing notched a goal in the second overtime session. 

The game went into penalty kicks, with Dalton Blanchard and Brennan Lacroix converting their attempts for the victory.

“It was an intense game that felt a lot like a playoff game,” Waterloo head coach Chad Holden said. “It was the third year in a row of winning the conference championship and we are very proud of that accomplishment.”

Waterloo (18-3-3) has gone 1-1-1 against Triad (17-2-3) this season, with the tie coming in the CYC tourney.

Waterloo opened Class 2A Marion Regional play Tuesday night against Marion. The result was not known at press time. A win would put the ‘Dogs in the title game on Saturday.

“We have been playing some really good soccer right now, but we do realize that come postseason anything can happen and we need to be ready for each and every game,” Holden said. “We are in a tough regional with a decent Marion team and if we get by them, we play Carbondale, who has only lost one game all season.”

Waterloo posted a 4-1 win over Belleville West last Tuesday, with Jake Cooling, Hayden Reese, Tyler Toms and Young all scoring goals. 

The Bulldogs lost 2-1 to Carbondale (19-1-2) on Aug. 31.

Scoring leaders for the ‘Dogs this season are Reese (10 goals, 12 assists) and Young (12 goals, five assists). 

Sam Ward has been stellar in net with a .913 save percentage.

The winner of the Marion Regional advances to the Bethalto Sectional, which begins Oct. 30.

Gibault ended its season Saturday with a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Granite City in a Class 3A regional clash at Oerter Park in Columbia. 

The Hawks, who were playing their first Class 3A postseason game after three straight state tourney appearances at Class 1A and Class 2A, were tied 0-0 with the Warriors at halftime. 

Granite City’s Ayoba Francis slithered past two Hawks defenders to score in the second half and Gibault (2-16-2) was unable to answer despite a frantic final offensive push in the final minute.

Connor Olson made seven saves in his final game as Gibault’s goalkeeper. He finished the season with an .817 save percentage.

Also playing their final games for the Hawks were seniors Alex Bira, Gavin Kohnz, Nate Janson, Kyle Barbour, Carlos Simoni, Helio Neto Franca and Alex Merlenbach.

Gibault played to a scoreless tie against Belleville West to close out the regular season on Thursday.

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