It’s the postseason and it’s a rivalry game. Does it get any better than this?

Charleston High will headline the opening round of the Class 2A Bethalto Civic Memorial Regional. Charleston and Mattoon have drawn each other with the winner to advance to the Regional Championship. The best part might be that Charleston will host this game tonight (Wednesday) and avoid a two-hour drive to Bethalto, which excites Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere. 

“It’s nice that Bethalto let us move this regional game to Coles County,” said Ghere. “I am just glad that we don’t have to drive two hours to play Charleston at a neutral site.”

This will be the third time that Mattoon and Charleston meet this season. In the last meeting, the Green Wave’s 7-2 win is a tad misleading, according to Ghere.   

“This will be our third time playing them,” said Ghere. “We played them last Thursday on a muddy field.  It was a fun game to watch.  Charleston jumped out to a one-goal lead early, and then we scored two goals in a five-minute span to take the lead.  Charleston tied it up at the twenty-minute mark.  We finished the game scoring five unanswered goals to win 7-2.”

Charleston lost to Mattoon 7-0 in the first meeting, but the Trojans have improved. With that said, the 13-4-3 Green Wave are heavily favored against the 6-13-0 Trojans. 

Junior Kyle Ross leads the Trojans with 10 goals, while sophomore Emilio Pucheta owns nine goals. Junior goalkeeper Alex Dow is coming off a new school record for saves in a game with 27 saves against Mount Zion, a record that had stood since Charles Johnson saved 26 balls in a playoff game in 2000. 

Mattoon’s stats are unavailable at this time, but will be led by a scoring attack headlined by Trent Hettinger and Quincy Hamilton. 

“It is always fun to play your rival in the postseason where the game has even more importance,” said Ghere. “We definitely need to play better defense this week.  We gave them too many counterattack opportunities.  We also need to take advantage of corner kicks.  We had several last weeks and only converted on one of them.  I know our kids will be ready to go.”