By Mike Monahan
The good news for the 2021 fall Mattoon boys soccer team is that its returns seven starters and a total of 15 varsity players.
The bad news is that they lost four starting forwards due to graduation.
That’s a lot of offense.
But that hasn’t slowed down the Green Wave, which scored 15 goals in its first two games – a 6-3 victory over Olney 6-3 and a 9-0 drubbing of Effingham this past weekend.
Jared Ruiz, Nathan Morgan and Karson Rice scored two goals apiece against Effingham, outshooting the Hearts, 15-1. Sophomore Andy Karpus, Ty Eastin and Trent Hettinger also scored for Mattoon, which next faces Olney tonight.
Matton finished 13-5 overall and 9-5 in the Apollo Conference during a winter/spring season pushed from the fall for COVID concerns.
“We had two months in the summer and we had good numbers,” said Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere, who has a 276-204-50 in his 24th year. “They have played a lot of soccer in the last six months. Everyone has. We have 28 out and there are a lot of teams that don’t have good numbers, and so we lose out on 8-10 junior varsity games because a lot of teams don’t have the numbers to carry a junior varsity team. It is good we have 28 although COVID really hurt our numbers, which are normally in the 40-50s. It will be a fun season and I think we will be pretty successful.”
Senior Quincy Hamilton will return to forward this season after a year playing midfield. He is joined by Karpus, a JV forward last season, Evan Chaney, a sophomore who was place-kicker for the football team last season, and Rice, who’s scored twice in Saturday’s game.
“That gives us four quality forwards,” Ghere said. “They don’t have a lot of experience, but by the end of the year they will be pretty good.”
Although goalkeeper Jason Skocy is back, it won’t be the position he plays all of the time.
“We are trying to move him in the field and Saturday he played in the field the whole game,” said Ghere, who has had nine straight winning seasons. “We are trying to bring Griffin Walk and Camden Jordan along so we can put Jason in the field. We will move Jason back and forth this year with the intent of having him in the field. It is nice to have that versatility. Jason is excited about playing in the field as he likes it better out there.”
Sophomore Jordan Haugh moved to midfield and Ghere feels they have five quality defenders.
“Jackson Whalin had a great season last year until he tore his calf muscle,” said Ghere. “He is back to 100 percent and Quentin Wright did a nice job back there. Brockton Goonan and newcomer Miles Clapp have stepped up and played well defensively in the two games we have had. The more they play together the better they are going to get.”
The top returning scorer from the spring is Hamilton, who had 18 goals.
“Even though he moved to midfield he has found the back of the net,” said Ghere. “He had three goals Saturday and we look for him to be the leading scorer. Hopefully we will be more balanced in scoring and I think we will be.”
Clapp and Chaney did not play last season.
Ghere said he is trying different lineups early. “Offensively, we have to find consistent scorers night in and night out,” said Ghere. “I think we have guys capable of doing that. “
Ghere said his team is working on possessing the ball more comfortably and in becoming better passers.
“It is the same thing in football if you turn the ball over you will not do well,” Ghere said. “Once we fix that problem, we will have a good soccer team. It will come from that experience that the young kids who have not been able to play at the varsity level and that will come as the year goes on.”
With the construction going on the soccer field will be in use until Oct. 2 and the goal to play on the turf is March 7.
“We have to be solid defensively,” said Ghere. “Last year, we gave up a lot of goals in losses. And the biggest key is can we compete against better teams on our schedule. If we do that, we will be competing for the conference title with Mahomet-Seymour and Mount Zion.”
Jersey Name Position
3 Quincy Hamilton F
9 Trent Hettinger MF
7 Mick Porter Def
2 Jared Ruiz MF
12 Jackson Whalin Def
15 Ty Eastin MF
4 Mitchell Gergeni MF
11 Brockton Goonan Def
24 Colton Grove MF
14 Andrew Karpus F
6 Nathan Morgan MF
1 Lincoln Scott F
17/99 Jason Skocy GK
21 Quentin Wright DEF
5 Evan Chaney F
N/A Miles Clapp DEF
23 Jace Gardner MF
13 Jordan Haugh MF
20 Camden Jordan GK
18 Austin Poitevint MF
8 Carson Rice F
16/0 Griffin Walk MF
10 Trystan Chupp Def
TODAY at Olney (4:30 p.m.); Wednesday vs. Champaign Central at Champaign Franklin Middle School (6 p.m.); Sept. 6-TEUTOPOLIS (4:30 p.m.); Sept. 7-at Effingham (4 p.m.)*; Sept. 9 at Lincoln (4:30 p.m.)*; Sept. 14-MAHOMET-SEYMOUR (4:30 p.m)*; Sept. 16-TAYLORVILLE (4:30 p.m.)*; Sept. 18-at Mount Zion (Mount Zion Intermediate School) (10 a.m.)*; Sept. 23-CHARLESTON (4:30 p.m.)*; Sept 27-MOUNT ZION (4:30 p.m.)*; Sept. 28–EFFINGHAM (4:30 p.m., Senior Night)*
Oct. 1–MATTOON TOURNAMENT (4:30 p.m.); Oct. 2-MATTOON TOURNAMENT (8:30 a.m.); Oct. 2-LINCOLN (1:30 p.m.)*; Oct. 5-at Mahomet-Seymour (5 p.m.)*; Oct. 7-at Taylorville (4:30 p.m.)*; Oct. 14-at Charleston (4:30 p.m.)*; Oct. 15-16, 19-20, 22-23 Class 2A IHSA Regional, TBA; Oct. 26-27, 29-30-IHSA Sectional, TBA;
Nov. 2-IHSA Supersectional, TBA; Nov. 5-6 Class 2A state finals at Hoffman Estates
*-Apollo Conference game