Mattoon applies pressure during Thursday night’s cross-county soccer rivalry game. (photo/Ron Ghere)

By Race Archibald

Mattoon overcame a 2-0 deficit and scored three goals in the second half to defeat Charleston 4-3 on Thursday night at Stranz Field.

Mattoon dominated possession early on, but was unable to convert its chances.

Charleston, meanwhile, had only two shots on goal in the first half, but both of them went in the back of the net to give the Trojans a 2-1 halftime lead.

“We took advantage of what we had, but, after that, I felt like we were on our heels the entire rest of the game,” said Charleston coach Josh Garrett.

Mattoon defender Mason Wright had the assist for Mattoon’s third goal of the night, off a free kick from near midfield, which Gavin Gonzalez was able to put away.

“I was just trying to put it near the net, get my teammates a chance to hit it in,” said Wright.

MHS’s Gavin Gonzalez throws in a pass during the the first half. (photo/Oscar Rzodkiewicz)

Gonzalez’ tying goal came with nine minutes remaining, and just three minutes later Zach Diebel put Mattoon ahead for good.

Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said the team had a different mentality in the second half, which helped them pull ahead late.

“We won 50-50 balls and we had sustained offense,” said Ghere. “I don’t think our forwards had a single shot in the first half, and our forwards put shots on the frame. And then we took advantage of a few set pieces.”

Mattoon’s Tyler Warner was able to score after a series of deflections in the Charleston box to put the score at 2-1 with only 40 seconds left in the first half.

“It really boosted our confidence there and got us going again,” said Wright. “We were a little down after the first half, but we came out ready.”

Mattoon’s control of possession continued in the second half as they forced Charleston goalie Ben Tresslar to make five saves in the half. An own goal from Charleston’s Josh Tresslar put the score at 2-2, but Charleston was able to respond almost immediately as Caleb Limes set up Blake Garrett for his second goal of the night. But it wasn’t enough to hold off Mattoon’s comeback attempt.

“A lot of their attacks were starting from 50 yards from not playing the ball right,” Garrett said. “Not stepping to the ball, not playing coordinated defense in the midfield. They kept attacking us that way.”

These two teams will face each other next Tuesday in Mattoon. Ghere said there are adjustments to be made ahead of the matchup.

“We’ve got to shore up our defense,” Ghere said. “We can’t let (Blake) Garrett run free. He ran through twice and got two goals. He’s so good, he’s so fast. We got to have a guy on him all the time.”

Blake Garrett opened the scoring for Charleston with a pass from William Carillo midway through the first half. Eugene Ohba scored on a free kick shortly afterward to give the Trojans a 2-0 lead. Ohba’s kick went over the wall and past the outstretched arms of the Mattoon goalie. 

Mattoon improves to 13-3-4 overall, 6-2-4 in the Apollo Conference. Charleston drops to 12-8-1, 6-5-1.