MATTOON — The Mattoon and Mahomet-Seymour boys' soccer teams are developing a rivalry quickly. Last season the Green Wave needed penalty kicks to beat Mahomet-Seymour for the Class 2A region title. The two have plenty of chances to see each other again with the Bulldogs joining the Apollo Conference.
The first Apollo matchup between the two teams didn't disappoint on Tuesday, either. Mahomet-Seymour took the early 1-0 lead when Mattoon later responded. That sequence happened two more times as the Green Wave and Bulldogs played to a 3-3 tie.
"It's an instant rivalry," Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. "We played them twice in the last year and it's been back and forth and it's competitive. I think it's going to be a great rivalry and it's great to have them in the conference. I think it's just the beginning of something."
Ghere said it was good to see his team battle back from three one-goal deficits in the match.
"When you are down three different times in the game, a tie isn't such a bad thing," Ghere said. "We never could get over the hump. I thought we came out flat to start the game and spotted them a goal, but you have to give our guys credit, they battled back and never gave up. It would be easy to get down each time, but they didn't."
Ghere does want to see his team play a more complete game against Mahomet-Seymour next time.
"We have to play better. We have to play for 80 minutes and I don't think we did tonight," Ghere said. "We played for 40. You play a real good team for only 40 minutes, you aren't going to win. We have to learn from it and move on. We get a point from it and we stay at the top of the race with them."
Mattoon is 6-1-2 with the draw and 2-0-1 in the Apollo.
The Bulldogs had the first chance of the match in the 5th minute with a point-blank shot that Mattoon keeper Reese Bergstrom knocked away. Mahomet-Seymour had another chance with a rebound shot, but Bergstrom dove and knocked it away. Mattoon was able to clear to keep it a scoreless match.
"Reese kept us in it, especially early," Ghere said. "Their first two goals, he made the save and we didn't clear away the rebound. His defenders have to pick him up. He made two saves with his feet. He made a couple of diving saves. He was aggressive on set pieces and punched them away and he's come a long way on those this year."
The Bulldogs were able to stifle Mattoon’s offense early in the match, which led to more opportunities for the Bulldogs, who scored first in the 15th minute.
Mattoon put together an opportunity in the 27th minute as Jake Ghere battled a Bulldog for the ball as they went toward the ball. The ball was knocked away but it hit a Bulldog in the hand in the box, giving Mattoon a penalty kick. Jake Ghere score on the penalty kick to tie the match at 1-1.
Mahomet-Seymour tied the match with 3 minutes left in the half. Bergstrom dove to knock away the first shot, but the Bulldogs maintain possession and reversed the field, which led to a goal for a 2-1 lead.
Five minutes into the second half, Shane Ghere passed up to Jake Ghere, who beat his defender and found the side of the net to tie the match at 2-2.
In the 55th minute, the Bulldogs retook the lead with a shot from the left side of the box that found the net to go up 3-2.
Mattoon's offense broke through with the equalizer with 7 minutes left. Tiago Lages broke toward the goal and was pushed in the box and went to the ground, which earned a foul call. Jake Ghere took the penalty kick and it hit the bar and went it for the equalizer.
"We had some guys battle tonight. Jake put the ball in the net for us three times," Ghere said. "I thought our defenders, some of them played really well. Alex Lensink played phenomenal in the back. Drew Coffey doesn't play like a freshman. Daniel Carpenter had some nice touches. Tiago had a run and got fouled in the box. We have to put ourselves in position to do that."
The Bulldogs had a corner kick with 3 minutes left and almost headed it in, but Bergstrom jumped and knocked the ball over the goal to keep the game tied. The ensuing corner kick was cleared.
Neither team got a clean shot for the rest of the match as it ended in a 3-3 draw.
"We played hard, we didn't play as smart as I wanted to in the first half and we gave the ball away too much," Ghere said. "The second half, I thought we were a whole different team and we really responded. I challenged them a bit at halftime and I think they responded. They competed. We are going to see them again in three weeks at their place and hopefully it will come down to who wins the conference championship."