Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.
Mattoon girls soccer appears to be in midseason form just a week into the season.
Mattoon (3-0) scored early and often defeating Monticello (2-1) by 7-0 Monday afternoon. The Green Wave have outscored their opponents 19-1 through three games. Mattoon outscored opponents 131-29 last season.
“I think we’re passing the ball extremely well,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “We’re moving the ball. The start of the second half of about seven minutes, I don’t think they (Monticello) touched the ball.”
We’re moving the ball and moving well off the ball. We had three or four shots today that any goalkeeper we play would be able to save. Good free kicks. We’re doing everything really well right now.”
The Green Wave return a highly accomplished lineup and it showed against the Sages.
Mattoon returns senior Lily Ghere who had 37 goals and 42 assists last season on the way to being named to the Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association (IHSSCA) all-state team as well as being named to the All-Apollo team.
Ghere picked up where she left off last season, tallying four goals with her last 20 yards out on a free kick at the 24 minute mark.
“We kind of thought this is where we would be,” the elder Ghere said. “The first two weeks of practice in the past have been a struggle, but with the turf the weather doesn’t matter. We get out here and get things done every day. The girls have come and worked really hard. Yeah, we’re maybe ahead of where we were last year at this time.”
Mattoon returns sophomore Bella Masse, who was named All- Apollo last year, scored on a free kick that seemed destined to go into the hands of Monticello goalkeeper Ally Nebelsick, but one of the Sages’ defenders stepped in front of her and it ricochetted into the bottom right corner of the goal.
Masse assisted on junior Piper Sanders goal, the first score of the match.
Junior Marley VanHoveln, named to the All Apollo second team, got her first tally of the game at the 12-minute mark extending the lead to 4-0.
Sophomore Kameron Lathrop, 2022 IHSSCA All-Sectional Honorable Mention, assisted on Ghere’s second goal of the match.
While putting teams away looks good, Ghere said the team is going to have to work on conditioning during practice since his starters have seen shortened playing time due to the scoring inbalances especially for teams like Mahomet, Mt. Zion, and Charleston.
“We’re going to have to get ourselves into shape so when we do play an 80 minute game, we’re ready to go,” he said. “We played two 50-minute games at the tournament (St. Teresa) and today we only played about 35 minutes. Conditioning, we’re going to have to get them ready in practice. We’re going to have to work in practice and compete against each other especially after a game like today.”
Masse said the girls’ success is due in part because they get along well.
“We have really good team chemistry this year from playing together last year,” she said. “Most of us have played together growing up. We’ve bonded well on and off the field. I think that’s help us so far this season.”
Masse said they want to establish their game early, as they did Monday.
“I think our goal is to set the tone of the game so the other team knows what’s up,” she said. “They know they’re playing Mattoon and they’re going to get our best game every day.”
Masse said that passing is one of their strengths, and it showed with the Sages not getting a touch deep into the second half.
“Passing around the other team is something we do really well,” she said. “Communication with our bond it helps too. I feel like we shoot the ball well. Alot of people can shoot from distance, and that’s going to help us moving forward, being able to move balls across, and being aggressive.”
Masse said that conditioning is going to fall on the players themselves.
“That’s just on us,” she said. “We have to work hard in practice and prepare for games. We can’t prepare for games in the game, that’s what practice is for. Showing up everyday and working hard is going to be a key to success.”
Mattoon Piper Sanders 1 (Bella Masse 1)2:00
Mattoon Lily Ghere 1 (Gabi Ray 1) 6:00
Mattoon Ghere 2 (Kameron Lathrop 1) 7:00
Mattoon Marley Van Hoveln 1 (Lily Gregory 1) 12:00
Mattoon Masse 1 (free kick) 18:00
Mattoon Ghere 3 (Masse 2) 22:00
Mattoon Ghere 4 (free kick) 24:00