Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
With their own tournament and the postseason lurking around the corner, Green Wave soccer needed a shot in the arm to jumpstart their scoring which has been an anaethema all year. They got two.
Junior Jace Gardner had two goals and an assist and freshman Parker Masse had a goal and two assists in a 9-0 victory over Effingham Tuesday night taking Mattoon to 7-7-1(5-5 Apollo) while dropping Effingham to 1-13-2(0-9 Apollo).
“It’s very big,” Gardner said. “We have our tournament coming up this weekend and I feel like us doing this well scoring goals and passing it around will help in the postseason and our tournament.”
Masse buried a goal past Effingham goalkeeper Xander Marler five minutes into the match after the Green Wave pressured the Heart’s defense in the box. Nathan Morgan took the ball down the right side and and flung it into the box to a waiting Masse who put the shot past Marler.
“He’s gotten better every game,” Mattoon varsity head soccer coach Ryan Ghere said. “Tonight’s his fourth game in a row with a goal. I think he’s gaining confidence, and while he’s outsized out there, he plays above his height and has been an asset for us on offense.”
The Green Wave had plenty of opportunities to score in the first half noted by a header that sailed over the net by freshman Keegan Shaw from three yards out.
Gardner doubled the score with five minutes left in the half as the Green Wave left the pitch with a sense of renewed purpose.
“We really did,” he said. “It means a lot. We got chemistry back and are really excited.”
Gardner picked up where he left off just two minutes into the second half scoring his second goal with a helper from Masse.
“He’s a big part of this team,” Gardner said of Masse. “He really works the ball around and getting us it into goal-scoring position. Even though he’s little, he’s got a big heart and can play real well.”
“People asked me today how I thought tonight was going to go and I said ‘We’re going to seven goals tonight’,” Mattoon varsity soccer coach Ryan Ghere said. “I thought we played well. We played well at practice last night. We put the ball in the net. Theyve hung in there. We’ve got our record back to .500 now. We have our tournament this weekend and the (postseason) seeding Thursday. So it’s nice to get back to .500.”
Ghere praised his top-scoring duo.
“I thought Parker Masse did a really great job up top scoring a goal and assisting on a goal,” he said. “He just keeps getting better as the season goes. Jace played really aggressive today. Good things happen when you play aggressive. I knew he was a good player. He didn’t get a lot of time in the beginning of the year, but he’s earned it.”
Ghere said the gameplan against Effingham was to pressure the Hearts because of their short passing game out of the defensive zone.
“We had a gameplan today of pressuring them in the back because they play short balls out of the back,” he said. “We practiced that last night. We did a really great job of that and kept pressure on them the whole game.”
“We came in with the mentality that we weren’t going to let them get the ball out of the back. We didn’t,” Ghere said. “When they played long ball over the top, Quentin (Wright) and Ty (Eastin) did a good job of winning balls and putting them back in on offense. We probably had 90 percent of the possession in our offensive third. I thought from the start we pressured them. From the start we acted like we wanted to win.”
Ghere said the Green Wave’s biggest problem all season was getting shots on goal.
The goal of the night belonged to junior Karson Rice. Two minutes after senior Jason Skocy made the score 5-0, the Green Wave pressured the Heart defense leaving Marler scrambling at the mouth of the net.
Senior Andy Karpus headed what was thought to be a sure thing, but the shot bounced off the top cross bar right back to Rice who was standing just inside the right goalpost by himself. Rice buried the ball in the back of the net and ending up on the ground.
“We just have to shoot,” Ghere said. “The first half we had chances. We just didn’t shoot. Then the second half we put the balls on the frame and they went in. We had all kinds of goals – free kicks, corner kicks, headers – we scored every different way there was tonight. I’m proud of the boys.”
“We needed one like this where we put the ball in the net and scored goals,” Ghere said. “Usually when you get to 7 or 8 goals, we call them off and make them pass, but I didn’t want to pull back because we hadn’t scored goals like this. We have something like 22 goals coming into today. Hopefully, we get a feel for it, a hunger for it and continue to move forward.”
36:29 Parker Masse 1 (Nathan Morgan 1)
5:20 Jace Gardner 1, (Masse 1)
37:08 Jace Gardner 2,(Masse 2)
33:40 Jordan Haugh 1(Gardner 1)
17:59 Karson Rice (Mitchel Gergeni 1)
17:08 Quentin Wright 1 (unassisted)
7:55 Keeghan Shaw 1
5:59 Christian Gonzalez (Parker Newlin 1)