MAROA — "It was the windiest game I have ever coached in," said Mattoon girls' soccer coach Ryan Ghere whose team advanced to the championship game of the Decatur St. Teresa Tournament with a 2-1 win over Pana Thursday.
Winds at Walter Boyd Field were over 40 miles an hour and the wind on the east/west field was so strong that when there was a free kick another girl would have to hold the ball otherwise the ball would roll.
"It wasn't a pretty soccer game, but we found a way to win," said Ghere who has been the only girls' soccer coach since the program started in the spring of 2001. "The ball never crossed the midfield line it was so windy. They were on offense in the first half and we were in the second half."
Mattoon scored two goals in the final five minutes and both were by Kyah Eastin, a senior, on penalty kicks, including the thrilling game-winner with just 30 seconds remaining.
"Our defense played well," said Ghere. "Kyah Eastin stepped up in getting two penalty kicks, which is not easy to do."
Goalie Hallie Niemerg had three saves for the Green Wave.
With the win, Mattoon not only improves to 3-0 but advanced to the championship game set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Decatur St. Teresa against Pleasant Plains, a 1-0 winner over Mount Zion in the other semifinal.
Pana scored with 15 minutes in the half to lead 1-0.
Thursday's game was moved to the turf in Maroa due to poor field conditions at St. Teresa.