Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
Mattoon had been playing much better recently, having won four out of its previous five games.
Even the Green Wave’s 4-1 loss to Lincoln on Saturday had been, by any measure, a much better performance than their first matchup in which the Railsplitters had shut down the Green Wave, 7-0.
So MHS coach Ryan Ghere had high hopes heading into another rematch Tuesday, this time against Apollo front-runner Mahomet-Seymour. The Bulldogs had rolled over MHS 8-1 three weeks ago.
Tuesday’s game against Mahomet, unfortunately for Mattoon, was nearly identical – the Bulldogs (13-4-2 overall, 7-0-1 Apollo) again seemingly scored at will to defeat the Green Wave (8-9-1, 5-7) by an 8-0 margin.
“Coming into tonight, we won four of our last five. I thought we had been playing really well this weekend,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “We still don’t have a guy scoring a lot of goals. We’re getting goals from lots of different people right now. Hopefully, we’lll turn it around on Thursday and find the back of the net.”
Nolan Wheeler had three goals while teammate Isaac Warren led with four assists.
“They’re just so good at passing,” Mattoon midfielder Ty Eastin said. “They know where their players are going to be. They’d pass it one way, and they’d have three different guys they could pass to. We couldn’t cover all of them. It’s difficult to cover that.”
Ghere warned his squad of the Bulldogs’ diagonal runs behind the ball while on offense prior to the game, but Mahomet-Seymour’s attack proved too much.
“They’re good,” Ghere said. “They’re fast. They made good diagonal runs. They have six or seven guys on the attack every time they win the ball. You make one mistake on defense and they’re going to hurt you on it.”
Wheeler and Warren again dominated. Wheeler had four goals and Warren had four assists.
“You have to give them credit,” Ghere said. “There’s a reason why they’re going to win the conference and why they have the seed they do in the Champaign regional. They’re really good.”
Ghere had been hoping for a better performance considering the Green Wave had beaten regional powerhouse Newton, 2-1, on Friday, and played better Saturday against Lincoln – their second matchup of the year, losing 4-1.
“I don’t think our heads were in it from the beginning,” Ghere said. “We might have been beaten before it started. They didn’t come out and play like I thought they would tonight. I thought we made some strides last week, played really well against Lincoln on Saturday, really well against Newton on Friday, so it’s disappointing because I think we took a step backwards today.”
Ghere said the team is going to have to forget about the loss and move on.
“It’s the last two weeks of the season,” he said. “You can’t dwell on it. Now, it’s Taylorville on Thursday who’s competitive, and then jump in to Mt. Zion on Saturday, then Charleston next week – and Charleston twice in five days. We have to be ready to bounce back from this one.”
Ghere said that the team has to find ways to beat quality teams like they had against Newton.
“We found a way to win against a really good team,” he said. “That’s where we have to get to. We have to start playing better against better teams. We have to get a quality win against a good team down the stretch here.”
Eastin said the Effingham game last week showed the team what their potential can be, if they play as a team.
“I think our game against Effingham showed us how well we can pass the ball and play as a team. I think coming from that we just want to continue that in our next games.”
Brian Woodbury 1, (Isaac Warren1)
Nolan Wheeler 1, (Warren 2)
Wheeler 2, (Warren 3)
Wheeler 3, (Warren 4)
Isaac 1 (Wheeler 1)
Warren 2 (Wheeler 2)
Warren 3(Mikiah Jones 1)
Woodbury 2 (Nick Tjahjadi 1)