It will be a first and a last for Mattoon soccer this year.
The boys’ soccer team will be the first group of boys to play on the new turf field. Three-year starting goaltender Jason Skocy said that the team has been practicing for the new style of play. The new field will create a fast-paced game, which is something, he said, the Green Wave have been preparing for all summer.
“We have been working hard in summer rec, knowing that we will be playing on turf this year,” said Skocy. “We have to change our style of play a bit. Getting used to the quick play will be an adjustment that we will have to make.”
It will also be the final season for longtime boys soccer coach Ryan Ghere, who is set to retire from coaching in 2023. Mattoon finished 14-5-3 overall last season and advanced to the IHSA Regional Championship to Bethalto Civic Memorial, 7-1. The team went 7-3-2 in conference play to finish third overall.
Skocy said that winning an Apollo Conference title and an IHSA Regional would be the best way to give Ghere a farewell.
“I think the goal for every Mattoon soccer team is to win the conference, without a doubt,” said Skocy. “We also have a chance to bring home a regional title. Another big thing for us this year is to make coach Ghere’s last season something to enjoy. He’s done so much for youth soccer in this town, the least we can do is send him off with a good final season.”
The Green Wave lost two First Team All-Apollo players – Trent Hettinger and Quincy Hamilton – as well as Second-Team All-Apollo selection Jackson Whalin. Skocy is one of two returning All-Apollo players along with senior Quentin Wright.
Skocy said that Ghere’s message has always been the same when it comes to reloading for the next year.
“We definitely lost some great seniors last year, but, as coach Ghere always says, it’s the next-man-up attitude,” said Skocy. “We have a strong group of seniors this year that have been playing together for years now. Andrew Karpus will probably lead our charge for the offense and Quentin Wright and Ty Eastin holding it down in the back. We also have Nathan (Morgan) and Mitchell (Gergerni) doing a good job in the midfield.”
Skocy said that some of the younger players have been looking good during the summer practices.
“Jace Gardner is a junior, only his second year playing and has shown to be a tank on the left side of the field,” he said. “Another young stud is Miles Clapp, who will be huge to the success of our defense this year.”
Skocy said that the Green Wave are embracing that opposing teams might overlook Mattoon because of their youth.
“I think this team has the chance of being very successful,” said Skocy. “We just have to perform the way we know how to. A lot of teams think that this is a down year for us because of our youth but Mattoon soccer is always going to bring intensity to every game, and play harder than anyone else. When we do those things I think the sky’s the limit for this team.”