By Dillan Schorfheide
After a season-opening loss, the Mattoon High School boys soccer team bounced back and picked up its first win Wednesday.
The Green Wave defeated Arthur-Okaw Christian 2-0 in the team’s first game of the Red and Gold tournament held at Charleston High School.
Mattoon, which had lost 3-1 to Bethalto on Monday, put things together better on offense in the victory.
Although the Mattoon attack provided two goals in the win, MHS coach Ryan Ghere said he wants to see the offense get better.
“Goals are hard to come by right now. We need to improve offensively, improve our possession, definitely improve our finishing because we had five or six chances that could have easily been goals for us,” Ghere said.
Arthur-Okaw came into the matchup off a 1-0 victory earlier over Charleston a few hours earlier. But the team was fresh enough to immediately apply pressure on the Green Wave.
Passes were connecting well for Arthur-Okaw and chances came for the team. At the same time, Mattoon wasn’t able to break through and get many opportunities at first.
After the first few minutes, though, the Green Wave came alive.
“(Arthur-Okaw plays) with a lot of energy You gotta give them credit,” Ghere said. “I think, in the end, our organization in the back saved us.”
Mattoon’s first goal came with 12:37 left in the first half when Karson Rice advanced the ball into Arthur-Okaw’s box and dropped it off to Jace Gardner, who slipped past a defender two score.
From that point on, the Green Wave controlled the game, applying offensive pressure and preventing Arthur-Okaw from getting too many chances.
Ghere said his team’s defense was a big in the win.
“Defensively, I thought we played really, really well,” Ghere said. “They didn’t have a lot of chances, and the ones they did, our two goalies were in the right spot.”
Mattoon scored again in the second half, when Evan Chaney scored with one minute left.
The Green Wave play two games on Thursday – against Effingham at 3:30 p.m. and Charleston at 7 p.m. MHS also plays Saturday against East Richland at 11:45 a.m. in the round-robin format.
For these first games of the season, Ghere said he’s looking to see how his players can perform in different roles. Mattoon lost a lot of starters from last season, so the Green Wave players will be moving around to see where they fit early on.