By Race Archibald
Four second-half goals from Mattoon powered the Green Wave to a 5-0 win over crosstown rival Charleston in a Class 2A IHSA regional soccer game Tuesday night.
The Green Wave advance to the regional final against Chatham (Glenwood), a 7-0 winner over Effingham, at 5 p.m. on Friday at the MHS soccer fields.
This was the second time the two teams played in five days. The Green Wave defeated the Trojans (12-9-1) last Thursday, 4-3, after having fallen behind 2-0.
That was not the case Tuesday night.
Mattoon’s Zach Diebel opened the scoring in the first half with a deflection off a throw-in from Gavin Gonzalez with three minutes remaining
. Diebel was able to get the slightest flick on the ball and, it was able to get through several players converged near the goal and past Charleston keeper Ben Tresslar.
“It doesn’t happen too often, and the wind helps a lot when it’s at your back,” Gonzalez said about scoring off a throw-in.
The next three goals for Mattoon were all deflected in the box one way or another.
Gonzalez drove down the left side of the field and fired the ball on goal, which bounced off Tresslar’s chest and into the net just three minutes into the second half to make it 2-0. Jakob Weder then scored the third goal after the ball bounced around the Charleston defense in the box. He then pounced on another loose ball after Mason Wright sent a long penalty kick toward the goal to put the score at 4-0 with just under 10 minutes remaining.
“When they put numbers in the box on corners, throw-ins, set pieces, put a ball on the frame and put it inside the box,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “That was a lot of our intention today.”
Gonzalez, in addition to scoring a goal and assisting another, drew a foul in the box late in the game, which Mason Wright was able to convert on the spot to put the final score at 5-0.
“You can just get past them whenever you use that side, and then it makes it that much easier to get opportunities for your teammates,” Gonzalez said about his success on the night.
Charleston, which struggled to find momentum, managed only two shots on goal.
“A lot of times, we were trying to dribble too much,” Charleston coach Josh Garrett said. “We were trying to make one more pass that was not necessary.”
Tresslar made seven saves on a night when he was under constant pressure.
“If they spend that much time down on the attacking third, they’re going to score eventually,” said Garrett. “We let them attack our goal too much.”
Charleston finished its season at 12-9-1. Mattoon (14-3-4), meanwhile, has at least one more game.
“A regional title is always one of our goals,” Ghere said. “That one is still available. We have to come out and play even better on Friday.”
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