By Dillan Schorfheide
It was a narrow victory, but it was enough for the Mattoon High School boys soccer team to claim the Red and Gold tournament title.
The Green Wave defeated Olney (East Richland) 1-0 on Saturday in a gritty battle that had plenty of chances to explode into a high-scoring affair.
Because Mattoon defeated Olney and Charleston lost to Olney 2-1 later in the day, the Green Wave secured the first-place trophy for the tournament.
The Green Wave (3-2) finished the tournament with a 3-1 record.
Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere is happy that his team has a winning record to begin the season, but, he said, there’s a lot of work to do going forward.
Specifically, the Green Wave need to finish around the net more.
“Finishing is the No. 1 thing. We’ve got to score goals, and we struggled to do that,” Ghere said. “Work on combinations up top, once we get to the final third we just don’t put passes together.”
The 1-0 final score could have very easily been more of a shootout, as both teams had plenty of chances to find the back of the net.
Right out of the gates, Mattoon’s attack put a lot of pressure on Olney’s defense. The Green Wave had good chances to score early, including a penalty kick that missed left on the goal.
Mattoon continually created good opportunities throughout the rest of the first half and the game, but Olney started to create some pressure of its own.
After the Green Wave’s initial threat, Olney began getting good opportunities. Especially in the second half, Olney had a lot of shots on goal.
That didn’t matter, though, as in the second half, Mattoon’s Evan Chaney got the ball off a deflection and buried it in the net for the tie breaking goal.
Although the Green Wave could have had more goals on the board, the one was enough in the end.
While Ghere does want his team to start finishing more, one thing that he liked throughout the tournament was his team’s defense.
“Overall for the weekend, I’m happy with how our defense played, and right now we got two good goalkeepers that we can throw in at any time,” he said.
There’s things Ghere wants the Green Wave to work on early this season, but with the Red and Gold tournament trophy and a 3-2 start, Mattoon is off to a good start this year.