By Pilar Barrio Sanchez

Both teams had their chances to score Saturday.

But Gavin Gonzalez helped Mattoon do so repeatedly, scoring two goals and assisting on two others to lead the Green Wave to a 4-0 boys soccer victory on Saturday.

“Every time we play Charleston there is motivation, just because last year we tied them one time and we should have beat them then,” Gonzalez said. 

After 18 months without soccer, the first game between the Trojans and the Green Wave attracted a lot of fans to the Green Wave field. The game was moved to Mattoon after the Charleston field became too soggy from recent rains. 

The two teams came into today’s match in very different situations – Mattoon (5-1) had won four of its five games while Charleston lost its opener to Urbana, 7-0, and then had two other games postponed for similar conditions. others for field conditions.

The first half started strong, with both teams generating chances and applying pressure. Mattoon lined-up with a 4-4-2 scheme, which at times looked almost like a 4-2-4 because of its dynamic wingers, Trent Hettinger and Andrew Brinkschroeder. Charleston started the game with a 4-5-1, giving them an extra player in the middle of the field, helpful when the Trojans could find Eugene Ohba and Aly Abou-Zaid in those spaces. 

“We have a bunch of different guys that can score,” Ghere said. “With Gavin up there leading the way, he is big, strong and fast – and then those other guys out wide that are quick.” 

Charleston had the first clear chance of the game when Blake Garrett snuck through several defenders and missed a shot high. Garrett, who scored 25 goals last season, was a constant threat. 

“It is awesome to play against Blake just because that is one of the people we played against in the whole summer,” Gonzalez said. 

That was the completely different case for Mattoon today. With less than 10 minutes into the game Brinkschroeder dibbled up in the left wing and put a cross to the penalty kick spot to find Gonzalez, who finished with his left foot and gave the lead to the Green Wave. 

Three minutes later, Charleston was forced to replace its only goalkeeper, Alex Dow, with defender Austin Gotschall.  

Charleston (0-2) was able to generate three chances to tie the game soon thereafter when Ohba was able to find Garret’s run between Mattoon’s defenders four different times in the first half. Garrett hit a cross bar on one and was close in another shot.

Mattoon, though, was able to capitalize on one of these missed opportunities, countering on a long pass from Kaden Fultz to find Gonzalez, who drilled in the shot to extend the lead to 2-0 before half-time. 

The second half was a totally different game. Mattoon adjusted to tighten its interior defense and took control of the game.   

“We told our defense to cover better from the weak side. If Blake is out there, you have to know where he is at because he is a scoring threat all the time,” Ghere said. “I thought we did a better job of covering each other when somebody got beat there was always a secondary defender there to put the ball away.” 

Two minutes into the first half, Gonzalez put a long throw into the box for Quincy Hamilton, who headed the ball into the goal to make it 3-0. 

Mattoon had a lot of chances to score from that point on as they were having fun with the ball. Hamilton was able to constantly find Brinkschroeder and Hettinger who kept taking players on to create chances for the Green Wave. The only missing piece for Mattoon was to get the ball in the back of the net. 

Mattoon scored its last goal when Brinkschroeder received the ball wide and started dribbling to the end line from where he crossed the ball to a dangerous position inside the Trojans’ box. In an effort to clear the ball, defender Kevin Caltry scored an own goal. 

“Our goal is always to win the conference,” said Ghere. “Our second goal is to get better everyday. In the second half, we gave ourselves a lot more of offensive chances.” 

Both teams will face each other again next Thursday at Charleston High.