By Kyle Daubs
After getting their tails kicked during the 2000s, Mattoon High School controlled soccer in Coles County the past decade.
Mattoon finished the last 10 soccer seasons with a record of 128-52-23, earning five IHSA Regional Championships, five Apollo Conference titles, one undefeated regular season, and three seasons with at least 20 wins.
Mattoon’s rise was surely special for Mattoon soccer coach Ryan Ghere, who has 22 years invested in Green Wave soccer.
As for Charleston, the Trojans still have not suffered a losing season since 1993, winning two IHSA Regional titles and Apollo Conference championships between 2010-20.
But their level of success was not at the same level as Mattoon’s.
This version of the All-Decade squad might feature more green, but there are plenty of skilled soccer players from both teams on this list.
Our framework includes the following: a starting lineup that features one goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders, and three forwards. Since there are four main positions, we included four members on the bench, apologized to one athlete, and provided one for fun.
Goalkeeper: Reese Bergstrom (MHS Class of 2019): Bergstrom finished his career with 274 career saves and a career goals against average of 0.92. His 38 career shutouts are a program record and his 15 shutouts in a season are the single-season record. Bergstrom was a multiple All-Apollo and All-Sectional selection.
Defender: Eric McCausland (CHS Class of 2012): McCausland primarily played the midfield in high school, but was used as a defender when he played soccer at Eastern Illinois University. His junior season, McCausland was asked to be the primary goal scorer and led the team with 10 goals. However, the 2010 team won a share of the Apollo Conference and a Regional title due to winning most games by shutout, and McCausland was a huge part of that.
Defender: Trey Skocy (MHS Class of 2016): Skocy, a two-time All-Apollo selection, was a key contributor for Mattoon’s once-upon-a-time school record 14 shutouts in 2014. The following year, he finished as a First-Team selection, helping Mattoon set a short-lived school record for wins in an 18-3-1 season.
Defender: Alex Lensink (MHS Class of 2019): Lensink finished his career with 15 goals and 10 assists, but his true talent was on the defensive end. Lensink was a key contributor to two of Mattoon’s 20-win seasons, including Mattoon’s undefeated regular season in 2016.
Midfielder: Elliot Griffin (CHS Class of 2014); Griffin might have been one of the smallest players on the field, but Griffin controlled the midfield. Griffin, a two-time All-Apollo selection, was a leader on and off the field. Griffin was also a starter for four years, helping CHS win Regional titles in 2010 and 2013.
Midfielder: Jake Ghere (MHS Class of 2019): Ghere left Mattoon as the all-time leader in goals scored (121) and assists (50). He also holds the single-season record for goals scored with 43. His six goals scored is a single-game record. He became the first MHS player to finish as an All-State selection. He was a four-year starter during which Mattoon went 81-10-7 and had an Apollo Conference record of 39-2-3. Ghere accounted for 28 percent of the team’s 433 goals over that four-year span, helping Mattoon win three Regional titles, four Apollo titles, and four Charleston and Mattoon Invitationals.
Midfielder: Shane Ghere (MHS Class of 2020): Ghere allowed his brother to hold the career assists mark for just under one season. He set up assist No. 51 halfway through his senior year to finish as the all-time leader in that category. Ghere was the second MHS player to earn finish All-State honors after Mattoon went 21-2-3 season during his senior year. What makes his record more special is that he did it in just 2 1/2 seasons, having missed his entire freshman season with an ACL injury.
Midfielder: Greg Thorne (MHS Class of 2017): Mattoon’s undefeated regular season (22-1-0) and Regional title team was highlighted by Thorne, who broke a 10-year record as the career assists leader (45). Thorne was a three-time All-Apollo selection and the Decatur Herald & Review Player of the Year when he led Mattoon’s 22-game win streak with 18 goals and 25 assists. Thorne did all of this despite his mother, Lupe, passing away from a blood clot weeks before the season’s beginning.
Forward: Taylor Garrett (CHS Class of 2014): Garrett was a three-time All-Apollo forward who led the Trojans in scoring in two of his four seasons. Garrett was a varsity starter all four years, splitting time running cross country. Garrett helped Charleston win Regional titles in 2010 and 2013. Known for his speed, Garrett was one of the fastest players on the field at all times.
Forward: Jack Thain (CHS Class of 2018): Thain was the only Trojan soccer player to break into the record book last decade. His career concluded with 53 career goals, which ranks third all-time in CHS history. He also ranks fourth in career points (129). Thain finished his career making All-Apollo four times and led the team in scoring three years in a row.
Forward: AJ Nichols (MHS Class of 2013): Nichols set the school record for goals scored in a season with 31 in 2012 when Mattoon won its first Regional Championship in nine years. Nichols scored four goals against Charleston in the postseason opener, the second time that season he scored at least four.
Goalkeeper: Will Hopkins (MHS Class of 2014): At one point, Hopkins held the school record for shutouts. He started four years in goal and finished with a career goals-against average of 1.24.
Defender: Grant Cline (CHS Class of 2019): Cline is the only Charleston defender to finish First-Team All-Apollo twice last decade. Cline, a team captain, and was a key contributor dating back to his freshman season.
Midfielder: Keith Royse (MHS Class of 2013): Royse was an All-Big 12 Conference and All-Apollo selection during his soccer career. Royse ranks in the upper tiers for assists in his career and patrolled the midfield during Mattoon’s Regional title team in 2012.
Forward: Zach Lensink (MHS Class of 2016): Lensink could be used in multiple positions, but he was the main cog in Mattoon’s eventual rise to fame. Lensink was a multi All-Apollo selection, a four-year starter, as well as the kicker for the Mattoon football team.
Apologies: Matt Janosik (MHS Class of 2012): Janosik nearly broke the then-school record for goals in a season by blasting 27 during his junior year in 2010. That landed him First-Team All-Big 12 Conference honors. However, his senior year was cut short due to a season-ending injury. Janosik was still picked up by Eastern Illinois University. If not for the injury, his career numbers would be even more impressive.
One for Fun: John Coulton (CHS Class of 2012): Given that I played soccer during this time, I’m going to pick the player that I can remember as the most fun: goalkeeper John Coulton. He was smart, witty, and someone you could always count on for a good laugh.
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