MATTOON — Two and a half years. That's all it took for Jake Ghere to break a record that stood for 15 years. Now Ghere has a year and a half to distance himself from that same record.
On Sept. 5, Ghere scored four goals in a 9-0 win against Effingham. His fourth goal of the match gave him 59 for his career, passing Tyler Moran for the most goals scored in the Mattoon High School soccer program's history.
"I would always look up at the record and I've always wanted all three, the career, season and game. It was kind of just a far-out-there thing," Ghere said. "My freshman year kind of put it in perspective that I've worked hard enough and the guys around me have worked hard enough that the record could be attainable. This year when we started, I saw what kind of a team we had and how it would be possible to get that record."
Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere, who is Jake's dad, said his son has put in the work to get to this point.
"He's played on some really good teams the last three years. He's earned it, he's worked really hard and put in a lot of time in the offseason," Ryan Ghere said. "Good accomplishment right now, but we have more to go, that's for sure. He's got a long way to go and he has to put it way up there. It's been fun to watch as a dad and coach and with his brother getting him some assists."
Even though he is now the career leader in goals, Ghere wasn't the sole focus of the offense during his freshmen and sophomore seasons. While he got his fair share of goals, so did two to three other players throughout the last two seasons with Cole Kidwell, Greg Thorne and Rayme Hamilton on the team.
"He's had a lot of help along the way. Not many of the goals he's scored have been beating guys off the dribble," Ryan Ghere said. "A lot of the goals have been crosses with headers and teammates finding him the ball, but he's done a nice job of finishing for the first two and a half years of his career. He finds the ball in front of the net and that's the job of a striker."
Any of those four could score two or more goals a game, which is why Mattoon set the team scoring record last season.
"You aren't playing for yourself when you have guys like that on your team," Jake Ghere said. "You are playing for everybody because if they are doing their job and getting you the balls, you have to score on them to help out everybody."
Not only has Ghere had a lot of success over the past three seasons, so has the team. Mattoon finished 18-3-1 his freshman season and then set the program record for wins in a season with 22 last year as the Green Wave went 22-1 and won the Class 2A regional title.
This season, Mattoon has a 6-1-2 record.
"Last year winning a regional championship was unbelievable and I can't even tell you how many goals I had in the regional title because I quite frankly don't really care," Jake Ghere said. "We won and it was an amazing thing. Team success comes first and after that, the individual success is icing on the cake."
This season, Ghere was the top offensive player returning. Thorne is on the Parkland College men's soccer team, and Hamilton and Kidwell both graduated. So Ghere became the focal point of the offense.
Ghere is scoring at a good clip; he has scored six goals in two matches since setting the record, but other weapons around him have stepped up. Ghere assisted on the first two goals of the season instead of scoring them himself. Both assists were to fellow junior striker Devin Perry, who has emerged as the No. 2 option after Ghere. Tiago Lages has emerged as a scoring threat along with a couple of other players.
"A lot of guys put in a lot of work this summer, and I knew that we would have to have some guys step up to get some better offense," Jake Ghere said. "Tiago moving from Brazil really helped us in the midfield and Devin has stepped up immensely. He has been unbelievable this year. Shane (Ghere) as well and our outside midfielders make it picture pretty."
Still, Ghere knew he was going to be the one every team keyed on this year because he was going to be the one who would score the most goals.
"Being the leading scorer, I like doing that every year and it's a goal of mine every year," Jake Ghere said. "I knew I wanted to be the leading scorer this year. So if that meant I have to put away every finish I get, that's what I was here to do."
The record for goals in a season is 31 by A.J. Nichols. Ghere could set that same record this season.
Ghere's goals keep getting better, too. In the draw against Mahomet-Seymour, Ghere scored a goal off an assist from Shane Ghere that his dad, Ryan, thought was the best goal of his career so far.
Throughout the last three seasons, Ryan Ghere has watched as his son has evolved as a scorer.
"The composure is the big one. When he was younger, he would get the ball close to the net and just blast a shot," Ryan Ghere said. "Several of his goals this season have been one-on-one with the keeper, and he slots it by them and there's more finesse now. He anticipates pretty well and puts himself in the right spot, which is half the part of being a good goal scorer."
Ghere, who now has 65 career goals after the last two matches, still has nine regular season matches left in 2017, not including the playoffs, and a full slate of games next season.
"I'm hoping triple digits. I am hoping to get to 100 by the end of my senior year," Jake Ghere said.