Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski
Civic Memorial soccer coach Derek Jarman admitted that he didn’t know much about Mattoon other than the 10 shutouts the Green Wave had posted this season.
He didn’t have to worry about that for long.
“We talked about some speed things,” he said. “We didn’t know much about Mattoon, and it was one of those things where if we play our game we should be fine, and it definitely worked.”
Bryce Davis, the enigmatic Eagles scorer who had scored 33 goals before the Class 2A Regional championship match his school hosted Saturday afternoon, scored just 20 seconds into the first half against Mattoon. Davis scored his second goal of the match at the 68th minute and Civic Memorial romped to a 7-1 victory.
“Man, they’re good. They’re really good,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “We don’t see play at that pace in our area. It’s just a different world when you come down here in the postseason. They just played so quick, and they’re big and strong and fast. They just ran by us.”
Ghere said they had needed to survive the opening minutes.
“We said before the game as coaches, we have to get through the first ten minutes,” Mattoon varsity soccer coach Ryan Ghere said. “If we can get through the first ten minutes – then we give up a goal 19 seconds in and then another a couple minutes later. First ten minutes, we gave up three goals.
After that, I thought we settled in. I know the score was 7-1, but I thought we gave ourselves chances towards end of the first half. In the second half, we played with them.”
Civic Memorial took a 4-0 halftime lead, using its speed on goals from Josh Teems and standout Parker Scottberg taking the ball centered from the wings.
The Eagles got a pair from Brayden Zyung in the second half, extending their lead to 6-0 and finally a seventh by Davis to increase the lead to seven before Mattoon standout Quincy Hamilton netted one for the final score of 7-1.
“We gave the ball away 95 yards away from our goal twice, and they score on counterattacks,” Ghere said. “On our schedule, you give the ball away there, you don’t give up a goal. Against a team like this, you give up the ball and they’re in. They’re so fast and skilled. If you’re going to go out, you want to go out to a team that’s better than you. And they are.”
Jarman said he had felt if they took care of themselves they’d be fine.
“We played the ball out to the wing early and sent it forward to Bryce early (who scored),” he said. “When you do that, that put them on their heels and questioning their own speed at that point.”
Hamilton scoring his 29th goal in his final match was bittersweet.
“It’s always good to go out on a goal, a high note. He got a goal there at the end and competed. He had a great career, and I think he ended up with 29 goals on the season,” Ghere said. “Trent (Hettinger) led us in assists this year and had a great season. I don’t think I ever had a kid improve as much as the two senior defenders did in four years in Jackson and Mick (Porter). Every year, they just got better and better. They were top-notch in the back for us. Jared (Ruiz) couldn’t be here today because his grandfather passed away. Jared’s a key player for us and we’re going to miss him. He’s just a great kid.”
The Eagles bullied the Green Wave much like Mattoon had done to its opponents throughout the year. The difference showed in the final tally.
“It’s just the different levels of soccer,” Ghere said. “We can play that way against a lot of the teams in our area. Then when we come play a team like this, they do to us what we do to people in our area. It’s frustrating. It’s pretty to watch as a coach who is a soccer fan, watching the way they play. Their passing is so crisp, and they put balls where they needed to be. They have some high-quality finishers. We played hard and competed. It just wasn’t our day.”
Parker Scottberg, the other talented Eagles workhouse who came into the match with 22 goals and 26 assists, added two goals to his tally.
“Parker is our horse. He’s got phenomenal ballhandling. He’s got soccer IQ. He’s going to find somebody, if there’s a gap or opening. He’s going to put it on someone’s feet where they can be dangerous. I love watching the kid.”
Jarman said the Eagles have been working on being patient with the ball.
We’ve been working on being patient in transition,” he said. “I think tonight we were able to do that. You stay wide, you play wide, you play backwards then you switch fields when you need to. There were times it looked like it shifted to where they were a lot of white shirts on one side and we switched and attacked diagonally from that side. It was one of those things where while it’s our bread and butter, that’s soccer. You have to stay wide and find someone’s feet in transition. They did a phenomenal job.”
Mattoon goalkeeper Jason Skocy shined for the Green Wave making a handful of acrobatic saves throughout the game – punctuated by a first half save on a penalty shot, and two second half saves that were rocketed at him from point blank range – limiting what could have been an offensive output Mattoon hadn’t seen since their 7-1 loss to Mahomet-Seymour on Oct. 5.
“You look at the score and see he gave up seven goals and think the goalie didn’t play well, but he had a heck of game,” Ghere said. “That’s one of the better games Ive seen of him. With all the firepower they have, he had five diving saves and a penalty kick. He was everywhere and kept us in the game early. You can’t fault him on any of those. He had guys running at him all night and shooting inside of 20 years. Jason had a good game for us.”
Jarman praised Skocy as well.
“I thought their keeper was phenomenal,” he said. “Mattoon defended well and transitioned well and did the right things, but their keeper stood on his head. He was fun to watch.”
CM advances to the sectional semifinals where they’ll face Mascoutah for the third time this season – a team that has had the Eagles’ number twice so far this year – handing Civic Memorial two losses: 4-2, and 2-0.
“The next round is going to be as tough as it gets, too,” Jarman said. “We’re going to run into Mascoutah and we’ve seen them twice already. They come at you. They’re a mirror of what we are. They have fast players all over the place with skill. We have to get better in a lot of area. We’ve gotten better in some of those, but we have things to work on.”
Ghere credited his team for taking big strides in improving from the start of the season.
“I can’t take anything away from this group,” Ghere said. “This group really improved as much as any team I’ve ever coached from game 1 to game 21 here today. I give our five seniors credit. They were great leaders for and had great careers for us. They listened and did what we asked them to do. I hate to see these five seniors go, because we’re going to miss them. For these younger guys, it is good for them to see the level of where (CM) is at. We have a lot of work to do between now and next August.”
The Green Wave have room to improve Ghere said as the team will play on turf next year.
“You saw the level of where we were today and the level of our opponent, he said. “That’s where we want to get to. It’s going to be a whole different season next year. It’s going to be turf might have to play a different style where our touch is better. We definitely need to get in the weight room. We’re just not strong enough, we’re not big enough.”
:20 Civic Memorial Bryce Davis (1)
6:00 Tyler Wilson (1)
10:00 Tyler Wilson (2)
20:00 Parker Scottberg (1)
33:00 Brayden Zyung (1)
17 Brayden Zyung (2)
15 Davis (2)
6:00 Quincy Hamilton (1)