By Mike Monahan
Mattoon did not suffer a letdown after posting a historic win last week, having handed Mahomet its first girls soccer loss since joining the conference in 2017 – a span of 44 games.
On Tuesday, the Greenwave ended Mt. Zion’s season win streak. MHS kept the ball on the Mt. Zion side of the field for all except eight minutes of the first half for an early 4-0 lead en route to a 5-1 triumph at home.
The Greenwave improved to 12-2-1 and 5-0 in the conference, while the Braves dropped to 10-4, 3-2, ending their four-game win streak.
“Our defense has been tremendous recently,” said MHS’s Bella Masse. “Lily (Ghere) and Kam (Lathrop) and myself have been working on making contact with their forwards so they can not get around us. I think that has helped us out a lot in the past week because I know Mahomet has a really good forward, and I know Mt. Zion has two really good forwards. Our defense has come up really big for us. They have gotten really good this season. That will help us in the postseason too.”
Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere and assistant coach Jason Morgan made an adjustment at 1-0 when they first moved Masse back to midfield and later moved Lily Ghere to the right side of the field, which led to three goals in the first half.
“When they do stuff like that, it makes the coaching staff look really smart,” said Ghere. “ I thought the first 40 minutes were as good as we have played all year.”
Masse, a sophomore, scored the first goal when a shot on goal ricocheted off the cross bar near Massey.
“We were right there and it was just a matter of where it fell,” Masse said. “We were ready to finish. I think that was really important because we struggled to put the ball in the net in the first 15 minutes. That one just laid right in front of us and I put it in, which was a good start for us.”
The second goal occurred in the 21st minute, nine minutes after the first goal – and few minutes after having been moved to midfield. Masse had a wide open lane so she drove toward the goal, passing it through defenders to Piper Sanders, who knocked the ball into the right corner.
“Piper is really good at finishing those balls through,” Masse said.
Three minutes later, sophomore Reese Updegraff scored on an assist from Belle Shriver for a 3-0 lead before Ghere scored unassisted.
“I thought the first half, we dominated the game,” said Ryan Ghere. “ We controlled possession. We had a lot of shots. We played balls out wide. We played serve balls in. We had nice set pieces on corner kicks.”
Mattoon goalie Jessica Evans made several key stops in the second half, twice diving to block potential goals.
“Jessica (Evans) did a nice job on goal,” said Ghere. “ We talk to the defense all year. If you keep them outside of the box and make them shoot from distance, Jessica is going to save it. She got caught off the line on the free kick and it got over her head. We will work on those in practice this week. The last three o four games our defense has been super solid.”
The Braves scored in the 72nd minute.
Mattoon countered for its final goal seven minutes later when Ghere scored unassisted.
Ryan Ghere said his team played more physically than they had in losses earlier this season to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and Geneseo. Mattoon has gone 5-0-1 in it most recent games.
“That is something we have been working on the last two weeks,” Ryan Ghere said, “be physical in the back and not let people turn with the ball and get breakaways. Before last week, most of the goals were on breakaways. Jessica didn’t have much of a chance. We played a little more physical. If you don’t play like this against the teams in the St. Louis area, you don’t have a chance. I think we are headed in the right direction.”