By Mike Monahan
Lily Ghere and Faith Niebrugge came through again Tuesday, combining to score eight goals in a 10-2 rout of Jerseyville in IHSA Waterloo Sectional.
Ghere scored five goals and Niebrugge added three to help the Green Wave advance to play host Mascoutah, a 10-0 winner over Taylorville, at noon Friday. That winner advances to the girls soccer sectional semifinals the following Tuesday.
Ghere now has 39 goals this season, remarkably still four behind junior Faith Niebrugge, who earlier this season set Mattoon’s career record in essentially only two seasons since last spring’s season was shut down for COVID concerns.
“Lily and Faith pretty match each other with assists and goals,” said MHS coach Ryan Ghere. “To have two people up top who can score and get assists makes a big difference up there. The offense started out well and the defense has gotten better as the year has gone one. Now we have a solid offense and defense.”
Mattoon improved to 14-4 for the season, fourth best in the program’s 20-year history. MHS had finished second in the Apollo at 7-2.
“We thought we should be pretty good,” said Ghere, the only coach in the girls’ program history. “It had been two years and we only graduated a couple of players. We had good young players coming in. They did a nice job of meshing together and playing well together.”
That the two Mattoon forwards dominated as they did Tuesday is not a surprise.
They have combined for 82 goals this season.
Plus, the two combined to score nine goals against Taylorville, eight against Danville and seven in just the first half against Lincoln.
Niebrugge has scored four goals three times while Ghere scored a season-best five goals against Taylorville along with several hat tricks.
They also set scoring and assist records in a 5-0 win over Lincoln May 21. Niebrugge broke the all-time career goal leader with 65 previously set by Jessica Nichols in 2018. She has 78 after the hat against Jerseyville, 43 this season.
Ghere, a sophomore, set a single season record for assists with 18. The previous mark had been 17 by both Nichols and Sage Overton in 2018. After her three assists Tuesday, Ghere has 27 for the season, 10 more than Niebrugge.
“I didn’t expect to get that record, which is all because of my teammates,” said Lily Ghere. “It is pretty cool to have that record in only my sophomore year. I am excited for the years to come. I was so excited for the season, especially with the other players. They make it great. I wish we could have had last year. We would have been really good last year, especially with the people I play with. They make it great. I wish we could have last year, we would have been really good.”
MHS GIRLS ALL-TIME GOALS
The Illinois High School Association allowed girls soccer to be two weeks longer than normal, while football, boys basketball, volleyball, girls basketball and boys soccer were all cut short and had no postseason.
“The IHSA made it a point to have the postseason and a full season for us since we didn’t have anything last spring,” said coach Ghere.
Ryan Ghere says Taylor Kovach has also helped buoy the team. The sophomore scored Mattoon’s second goal and assisted on the third to give the Green Wave a 3-1 first-half lead Tuesday.
“She is a versatile midfielder who has played a lot of different positions for us,” Ryan Ghere said. “She had a really great regular season. Paige Farmer and Chloe Pruitt have really stepped up as outside midfielders.”
Pruitt scored the Green Wave’s final goal on an assist from Farmer. Piper Sanders also recorded two assists.
Mattoon had a few days off before the sectional opener after having played three to four games a week.
“It was nice to have a couple of practices last week,” said Ryan Ghere. “Once we finished last Thursday with the junior varsity for the season, we had our top 15 players at practice for a couple of days. We slim the number down for the postseason. The players got to do more reps than they do during the regular season.”
After starting the season 1-2 following a loss to Champaign Central (which finished 12-4-2) and Mahomet-Seymour (14-2) the Green Wave have won 13 of its past 15 games with the only other losses being to Mount Zion 6-4 and Mahomet.
“We have been pretty consistent and our losses have all been to pretty good teams,” said coach Ghere whose team won six straight at one point.
“I wasn’t really sure how we would do going into it,” said Lily Ghere. “Once we got into the season, I was pretty surprised because we had not played for a long time.”
There are four seniors on the team in Berkley Howell, Laura Stream, Anna Morton and Callan Haldorsen, who have had gone 43-19-3 and won a Class 2A regional title in 2019 during their high school careers, which is the most successful three seasons that the MHS girls soccer team has ever had.
Lily is not the first to be coached by her dad as her older brothers Shane and Jake were also coach by Ryan Ghere.
“He is definitely harder on me than the other players, but I like it, though, as it makes me a better player,” said Lily Ghere.
Assists runs in the family as Shane Ghere broke Jake Ghere’s record for the most career assists in Mattoon boys’ soccer history in 2019 a year after Jake set it at 50.