MATTOON — The Mattoon home soccer match against Monticello had about 1:20 left to go in the match before it could be entered in as an official contest. Mattoon had a 3-0 lead when lightning struck, literally. Not on the field, but in a close enough radius to cause a postponement to the match with 1:20 left before the half.
The lightning never let up, either. The officials and the two teams stuck around for about 45 more minutes and numerous lightning strikes kept moving the 30-minute clock back to restart the game. But with the storm cell growing, it was agreed upon to call the contest. Even though Mattoon had a 3-0 lead, since the game didn't reach halftime, an official result cannot be entered.
Mattoon isn't short on competition over the next two weeks, though. The Green Wave have a home match against Coles County rival Charleston on Thursday. Plus Mattoon was asked to join the tournament in Chatham on Saturday after a team dropped out, giving the Green Wave quality matches against Champaign Centennial and Belleville East.
"Big game Thursday and have to keep up with Mahomet in the conference race and it's a rivalry game. We tied last time we played so that's a big one," Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. "Belleville East is a good team from the metro area and Centennial is a team in our sub-sectional, so that could have big seed implications. It's a good weekend, it's good competition. We want to play better teams and it gets us ready for the postseason."
Next week, Mattoon has a home match against Effingham and then hosts the Mattoon tournament on Sept. 29 and Sept. 30, giving the Green Wave three more matches. So after Monday, Mattoon has seven matches over the next two weeks.
So even though Monday's 3-0 contest against Monticello was washed out, the Green Wave still have plenty of matches over the next two weeks.
"It's going to be a busy, busy time," Ghere said. "I thought we played better as the half went on tonight. Started putting the ball in the net finally. We just have to keep getting better, we are struggling right now. We can play better. We didn't play so well on Saturday when we beat Mount Zion 2-1. We found a way to win at the end. Just keep improving."
The Green Wave’s offense had trouble connecting on passes in the first half until Brett Kennell sent a pass from the midfield to Jacob Spitz, who was close to the left line. Spitz dribbled toward the goal and later had the ball poked away, but Tiago Lages got to the ball and put a shot on goal that slipped in between the keeper and the post for a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
"We started to play the ball wide. We are good when we play the ball wide," Ghere said. "When we jam everything down the middle, we aren't very good. We tried to do that the first 20 minutes and then the last 15, we played the ball outside and we gave ourselves a lot of chances. You've got to take advantage of those."
Then Mattoon worked the ball in front of the net about 6 minutes later. Spitz poked the ball in for the score to make it 2-0. About 30 seconds later, Spitz found Devin Perry with a nice pass and Perry scored for the 3-0 lead.
"Jacob came off the bench and gave us a spurt there with a goal and two assists," Ghere said. "He responded coming off the bench and played more aggressive than he has lately and gave us some chances. Two assists and a goal in a 10 minute span is pretty good."
Monticello’s best opportunity came with about 10 minutes left in the half. A group of players were battling with for the ball and Monticello had a wide-open net, but the Green Wave cleared it to keep it a scoreless match. Then with 1:20 left before halftime, the game was delayed and later called off.
"Got better as the game went. The defense played pretty well, kept them in front of us," Ghere said. "A good 38:30."
Mattoon won the junior varsity game 2-1 to improve to 10-0-1. Jadyn Princko and Jacob Mathias each scored a goal for the Green Wave JV.