By Mike Monahan
MATTOON – Mattoon only lost two starters from last year and return both Faith Neibrugge and Lily Ghere, who earned all-state honors by the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association after scoring 39 goals and having a single-season record 27 assists. Niebrugge, meanwhile, earned all-sectional honors and broke the school record for the most goals in a single season with 43 goals for the Green Wave.
Niebrugge, who is headed to Parkland College next year, scored nine goals across three games, which helped Mattoon win its first three games and capture the St. Teresa girls soccer tournament title this weekend.
The team might be just as excited to play on its new turf field, which should be ready for the April 1 home opener against Judah Christian.
“The kids and coaches are so excited about the turf field,” said MHS coach Ryan Ghere. “I think it will allow us to be a more ball control and passing team. I am looking forward to practices on it where rain and weather won’t have as much of a factor. The fact that we have a turf field devoted to soccer only shows how far our programs have come over the years. We are going to have one of the nicest soccer facilities in downstate Illinois.”
TEAM RECORD 2021: 14-5, 7-3 in the Apollo Conference, good for a second-place tie with Mount Zion.
2021 REVIEW: Mattoon beat Mt. Zion, 5-0, on the road to split their season series, which Ryan Ghere called a big win in 2021. The Green Wave also swept Charleston, 7-0 and 2-0. But an even bigger win – routing Jerseyville 10-2 in the IHSA Regional opener before being eliminated in the final, 11-1. … Mattoon posted seven shutouts and outscored its opponents 104-50 last season, for an average score of 5.5 to 2.6.
KEY PLAYERS: Niebrugge, forward; Ghere, forward; Piper Sanders, forward. Niebrugge had 43 goals, 14 assists; Ghere 39 goals, 27 assists; Sanders 5 goals, 8 assists.
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: To find a way to beat Mahomet-Seymour, which finished last season 10-0 in the Apollo Conference.
KEY GAMES: “Our key games this year will be our rival Charleston,” said Ghere. “We hope to compete with Mahomet-Seymour better than we have in the past. We are playing in the Urbana Tournament for the first time this year. It will be a very good tournament with two teams from Wisconsin and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin was added as well.”
Seniors: Paige Farmer, midfielder; Anna Jurka, defender; Faith Niebrugge, forward; Chloe Pruitt, midfielder; Avery Smith, goalkeeper.
Juniors: Lily Ghere, forward; Taylor Kovach, defender; Gabrielle Ray, midfielder.
Sophomores: Annabelle Lee, goalkeeper; Piper Sanders, forward; Belle Shriver, defender; Marley Von Hoveln, midfielder.
Freshmen: Kameron Lathrop, defender; Isabelle Massey, midfielder; Reese Updegraff, defender.