By Kyle Daubs
On paper, Ryan Ghere likes his squad a lot.
The Mattoon Green Wave girls soccer team will begin its quest towards winning an IHSA Regional Championship. The 18-5 team was given the No. 3 seed in the sub-sectional.
Mattoon will take on the No. 5 seed in the semifinal round of the Mascoutah Sectional.
The winner of this game will play the winner between second-seeded Mascoutah and sixth-seeded Charleston.
Mattoon takes on a Highland team that finished the season 3-19 and 2-8 in the Mississippi Valley Conference. Highland has scored a total of nine goals this season. While Ghere doesn’t want to overlook opponents, he likes his chances in this regional.
“I think this team (MHS) can compete for a regional championship,” said Ghere. “I think we were a little out of our league in the regional last year, but we have made some adjustments to the way we play so that we can compete with the St. Louis Metro teams.”
Since April 12, Mattoon has lost just two times and both times were against state-ranked and Apollo champion Mahomet-Seymour. That includes a bounce-back 5-0 win over Champaign Central, a team that had beaten Mattoon 4-3 earlier in the season, last Thursday.
The 18 wins by Mattoon is a new program record, breaking the previous record of 16 set in 2019. Two wins would not only give MHS its first IHSA Regional Championship since that same year – but the program’s first-ever 20-win season.
“We have improved all season,” said Ghere. “We are still making small changes to our lineup and our formation. Our girls are still coming to practice every day and working hard to improve. We have had a tremendous season so far. I don’t know much about our opponents. I will try to watch some films tonight. We are just concerned with playing our style of attacking soccer. I look forward to seeing how we compete.”
Charleston, 5-10-2, will take on the host school in the first game. Charleston is led by freshman Hadley Webb and sophomore Ella Garrett. Both have scored 11 goals this season and make up for 22 of the team’s 41 goals.
Mascoutah is 13-6-2 and was 6-3 in the MVC, which was good enough for third.
Charleston will play Mascoutah at 4 p.m. Mattoon will play Highland at 6 p.m.