By Kyle Daubs
The boys soccer rivalry was on full display in the first round of the Class 2A Bethalto Regional.
After Marshall Smith scored an early goal in the eighth minute, his third goal in the past four games, it briefly felt like the Trojans were going to play the role of Cinderella.
But Mattoon tied the score just one minute and a half later with a goal from Andy Karpus, which was assisted by Trent Hettinger.
However, Charleston then re-took the lead for a second time at the 24th minute. After a foul in the box, Emilio Pacheta stepped up and blasted the ball just under the crossbar to give the Trojans a 2-1 advantage.
The Green Wave responded fast again, moments later tying the score on an unassisted goal by Nathan Morgan that sent the game to a 2-2 tie at halftime.
“We missed a penalty kick, hit the crossbar, hit the post, and didn’t convert on at least five breakaways, ” said Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere. “Give Charleston credit. They played hard the entire game and put us behind two different times. Our kids showed good composure throughout the game. We didn’t panic when we fell behind and battled back a couple of times. We played much better defensively in the second half and only gave them a few chances to score.”
Mattoon used two second-half goals by Quincy Hamilton to take the lead for good. Hamilton scored at the 42nd minute with an assist from Jace Garder. Then, Hamilton scored again at the 46th minute assisted by Hettinger.
Charleston striker Kyle Ross was unavailable for the second half with an injury and the Trojans were held scoreless.
“We couldn’t muster up much offense,” said Charleston coach Zack Stranz. “This was probably the best game we’ve played all year; unfortunately, it was the last game this season. I’m looking forward to next season, bringing back everyone but one senior. I believe we made the right adjustments throughout the season to have an identity going into next season which is something we lacked starting this year.”
Mattoon moves to 14-4-3 with the win. The Green Wave will have a tall task in the regional championship, traveling Saturday to play host Bethalto Civic Memorial, which is 18-4-1 and just blasted Springfield Litchfield 9-0, in a 3 p.m. game.
Civic Memorial will be led by junior Bryce Davis, who has scored 33 goals, senior Parker Scottberg, who has 22 goals. Scottberg also has 26 assists, while Davis has 16. As a team, Civic Memorial has scored 117 goals and allowed just 22.
Ghere knows the Green Wave will have to capitalize on opportunities.
“We played well enough to win,” said Ghere. “That’s what matters most in the playoffs. We get to play for a regional title on Friday against a very good Bethalto team. We will have to play a lot better on Saturday if we want to win. We had lots of chances to score, but we just didn’t finish very well.”
Charleston finishes the season 6-14-0 but loses just one senior, which excites Stranz after completing his first year as a head coach.
“I’m excited for next year,” said Stranz. “The way my team listened and adjusted through different formations and positions showed the second half of the season. I wish we could play those teams we got early-season losses to again, I believe we could change at least three of those losses into wins. We’re only losing one senior so the future looks bright.”
8:00 Charleston Goal
9:30 Andy Karpus (Trent Hettinger)
24:00 Charleston Goal
27:00 Natham Morgan (unassisted)
42:00 Quincy Hamilton (Jace Garder)
56:00 Quincy Hamilton (Trent Hettinger)