By Mike Monahan

Faith Niebrugge scored four goals as Mattoon dominated in all facets of the game and routed host Charleston in girls soccer Thursday evening, 7-0.

Niebrugge, a junior, tied a personal high set her freshman season against Taylorville.

“It is a rivalry game and you want to beat them anytime you can,” said Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere of the Apollo Conference game. “There are not many times you put seven goal on them either.”

Mattoon had scored no more than five goals against Charleston dating back to 2013 – in a tie in 2019.

“The girls have worked hard and put in a lot of time and a lot of them play club soccer. We scored four goals against Mount Zion Tuesday, but lost 6-4,” Ghere said. “We just didn’t play very well then especially on defense. Today, we shored up the defense, covered each other better and our defense did  a good job of keeping us on offense, which we didn’t do Tuesday. We won the balls at the half line and got them back to our offense and then we just had to sustain pressure the whole game. We get Mount Zion in a couple of weeks and, hopefully, we will have better results.”

Mattoon’s Faith Niebrugge tries to get past Charleston’s Delaney Meister on Tuesday night. Niebrugge scored a personal-best 4 goals. (Photo/Ron Ghere)

“I think it is a good win and I think it really boosts our confidence and makes us feel like we can do as much as we can and play well,” said Niebrugge. “We just want to show other teams what we can do.”

Mattoon dominated the game, keeping the ball on the Charleston side for all except three minutes, but the Green Wave made just two of 15 shots on goal in the first half. Niebrugge scored unassisted 3 minutes, 57 seconds into the game and Lily Ghere made a corner kick with 19:19 remaining. 

“I feel like our defense kept us in the game for a while,” said Charleston coach Josh Garrett. “They won the midfield battle easily. Games are won or lost in the midfield. As much as people want to talk about defense, goalies and forwards, that is far secondary to how your midfield is. We have good players in the midfield, but just didn’t connect passes. We were not connected on defense. We were not defending the midfield  property and that is what lost the game in my opinion. We got beat in the midfield soundly, 7-0.”

At halftime, Ghere was frustrated with his team’s inability to score more on its opportunities.

“I thought we did a good job of controlling the ball in the first half,” said Ghere, whose team improved to 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Apollo Conference. “Charleston didn’t really have any chances. It is frustrating when you have not very good shots and we didn’t give ourselves great chances. But had the ball in the box a lot. It is frustrating when they just hang around and hang around and you just don’t know what is going to happen. They find a way to get a counter attack and a goal and then it is a one-point game.”

But Neibrugge then scored 8:58 into the second half on one of three assists by Lily Ghere.

Lily Ghere assisted on three Mattoon goals Thursday night. (Photo/Ron Ghere).

“It was nice to get out in the second half and get that third goal and then about a five-minute segment where we could not have played much better than we did,” said Ghere.

Mattoon scored four goals in a span of 2 minutes, 31 seconds. Berkley Howell scoring on an assist from Callan Haldorsen 21:02 into the half.

“I rarely shoot with my left and I just did a power shot and it went in,” said Howell, a senior.

Just 20 seconds later, Niebrugge found freshman Marley Van Hoveln for her first career high school goal. Ghere then assisted Nieburgge for the final goals of the game. 

“Today, we just really worked on passing to each other instead of kicking the ball around,” said Howell. “So we just knew where passes were going and shot it on frame (in the second half).”

Ghere said they talked at halftime about shooting from outside the box. 

“The difference was we finally put our shots on goal,” said Ghere. “We had a post and Faith  (Niebrugge) followed it in. Berkley (Howell) had a great shot, Marley (Von Haveln) had a great shot from distance. Those are all things we talked about halftime. If you are going to put eight to nine girls in the box we have to shoot from outside the box and hope for deflections and get a cheap one in front of the goal. Two great shots and then Faith cleaning up the garbage in front of the goal. That is what she does. That is something you can’t teach is that aggression by just finding the ball in front of the net. She had that when she was a freshman two years ago and she has that this year. If you put the ball near the goalie and bounce around she is going to run through it. She is going to run through a brick wall to score a goal if you asked her too. 

Charleston (2-2, 1-1) hosts Decatur St. Teresa on Monday before returning to Apollo play Tuesday at Mahomet-Seymour. 

“We will go over the same thing we did in practice Wednesday and try and get back to the possession drawing board and see if we can start making connecting passes and we have a lot of people new to the game,” Garrett said. “We will get our leaders to step up, people that have played enough soccer to be a little more vocal on the field , help the people out that still need some help. We are athletic, but are still learning the game of soccer.”

Mattoon plays host to Warrensburg-Latham Monday and to Lincoln on Tuesday.