MATTOON -- The Mattoon soccer team could’ve looked past Thursday’s Coles County rivalry match with Charleston. The Green Wave already wrapped up the Apollo Conference on Saturday and Class 2A regionals start next week.
But the Green Wave didn’t want to lose to their rivals on senior night. While it wasn’t the cleanest of matches for Mattoon, they connected on enough passes to come out with a 2-0 win against Charleston.
“We played hard. I don’t think we played smart the whole time. We didn’t possess the ball enough. A lot of bad touches,” Mattoon coach Ryan Ghere said. “It’s a rivalry game and we will take the win. We beat them three times in the same season and a rivalry game. Our kids did play well.”
Mattoon improved to 19-1-3 overall and 10-0-2 in the Apollo. Charleston falls to 10-8-1.
The Trojans did host Mattoon to one of its lowest margins of victory of the season.
“That’s the second time 2-0 for us against Mattoon and the first time, we didn’t have a shot on goal. We had some looks, we didn’t have enough looks, but I thought we played better defensively and in the midfield,” Charleston coach Josh Garrett said. “They are a tough team to defend in the midfield and I thought we did pretty well. Overall, I am pleased with the team. There’s a reason (Mattoon) is 19-1-3.”
Getting a win on senior night was fitting for this group of Mattoon seniors - Reese Bergstrom (Mattoon’s all-time leader in shutouts), Daniel Carpenter, Jake Ghere (Mattoon’s all-time leader in goals scored), Alex Heuerman, Alex Lensink, Devin Perry, Jacob Spitz, Jadyn Princko, Jacob Mathias and Ben Winograd.
Mattoon has won 79 matches over the past four seasons to go along with four Apollo titles.
“You like the seniors to go out on a win and they’ve won a ton of games here. That’s a lot of wins for this group,” Ghere said. “They are just such a good group of kids. They are all buddies, they all hang out together. When we have practice in the morning, they all go out and eat together. It’s just been a great group to work with for all four years.”
Mattoon turns its attention to regional play now. The Green Wave’s first match is Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Champaign Centennial against either Georgetown-Ridge Farm or Danville. Then next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Centennial is the regional title match.
“We accomplished three of our goals this season and the next one is to play well in the postseason,” Ghere said. “It’s a good game to build off. We will watch the film but we played well. We competed. We didn’t get a lot of chances on goal but the ones we got, we put away. (Charleston) fought hard and played hard and it’s good to come away with a win.”
Charleston opens 2A regional play against Rantoul at 2 p.m. on Saturday at home. The winner plays at 4 p.m. on Tuesday against Champaign Central in Mount Zion.
Garrett said the key in the postseason is playing strong in the midfield.
“Offensively and definitely but especially defensively. The first goal tonight we could’ve prevented in the midfield. If we start stopping the ball in the midfield, we can play with any team in the area,” Garrett said. “We’ve been playing well from our goal to the 18-line, but sometimes we can’t get from the 18 to their goal. We are having a hard time connecting good useable passes to the forwards.”
Charleston had the first chances in the match. In the 6th minute, Blake Garrett took a long shot and Mattoon goalkeeper Reese Bergstrom tracked it the whole way and made the save. Then three minutes later, Garrett took another chance with a shot and Bergstrom brought it in again.
Mattoon took the lead in the 21st minute. Shane Ghere passed about 10 yards up to Jake Ghere and he beat the defenders and put his shot in the back corner of the next for a 1-0 Green Wave lead.
Mattoon added to the lead in the second half. Mattoon sent in a corner kick in the 55th minute and Jacob Spitz headed it in the goal. Jake Ghere assisted on it as Mattoon went up 2-0.
The Green Wave just missed on a couple of more opportunities but still won 2-0.