EDWARDSVILLE — Gibault High School freshman Abby Hasenstab made coach Matt Reeb's strategy pay off Saturday.
Five minutes after Reeb shifted Hasenstab from midfielder to forward in the second half, Hasenstab punched in the only goal of the game as the Hawks toppled Althoff 1-0 at the Edwardsville Sports Complex.
The game was moved to the artificial surface in Edwardsville from Oerter Park in Columbia because of heavy rain Thursday.
"My friend Carley (Olson), the other forward, passed it to me and I thought if I could turn it, maybe I could take a chance and get a shot through," Hasenstab said. "There were fullbacks on me and I thought I wouldn't get past them, but I made a move, got through them, took a shot and it went in."
Hasenstab settled the ball, moved to her left and connected from about 25 yards out with a left-footed shot that skimmed off the hands of leaping Crusaders freshman keeper Emily Lassman, ending a scoreless affair in the 63rd minute.
"I had good placement on it," Hasenstab said of her fourth goal of the season and first game-winner. "I've been working on my shot because I know I'm going to be needing to get some goals in my future."
It was Gibault's second win this season over Althoff (9-6-1). The Hawks (8-5) also won 1-0 on March 16 at McKendree.
"Abby's kind of our replacement forward," Reeb said. "Both of our forwards are battling injuries. Carly Olson has a hip (injury) and Michaela Muich has been battling a sprained ankle. She got hit and had to come off the field ... so we put Abby up top.
"She does well up there, too. She found the back of the net. It was just a matter of time, when she was up top, to get the goal."
It was a frustrating performance to watch for Althoff coach Juergen Huettner, who implored his team throughout the game to attack Gibault on the wings. Instead, the Crusaders fell in love with the middle of the field and seldom were dangerous.
"We went exclusively through the middle," Huettner said. "It's one thing we talked about before the game and we talked about it at halftime. If we play like this, we're going to lose the game, obviously.
"They didn't do it. They went to the middle over and over and over. ... Their inside defense is their strong part. If you attack that, you're not going to be very lucky. We did exactly what we shouldn't do and lost the game."
Both teams were silent in the first half. Althoff freshman Payton Seibel shot wide from the left side in the 13th minute and Gibault junior Courtney Olson's shot was scooped up by Lassman in the 37th minute.
After Hasenstab's goal, the Crusaders applied more consistent pressure on Hawks junior goalie Kendra Davis, who made her best save when she pushed away a direct kick by junior Natalie Heitzman in the 71st minute.
In the 74th minute, Seibel sent a nice cross from the right side into the box, but it narrowly sailed over the head of freshman K.K. Voelker. It was the Crusaders' final legitimate chance.
"We had no direct goal shots," Huettner said. "There was nothing on goal."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.