EDWARDSVILLE — If the best is yet to come for the Edwardsville High School boys soccer team, there's going to be plenty of trouble for Tigers opponents.
Junior Landon Paul had a goal and an assist and seniors Michael Romann and Brent Heinlein also scored goals as the Tigers defeated O'Fallon 3-1 in a Southwestern Conference game.
Edwardsville improved to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the SWC, and it has outscored league foes 11-3. Its only loss is against Triad.
"We always have a tendency to lock down (on defense), especially the second half of the season," 14th-year Tigers coach Mark Heiderscheid said. "We've been notorious to just not allow very many goals at that point. Defending tends to get in better shape.
"And we have, certainly, (many) more players that are able to bring things to the table in terms of getting into the attack and also finishing. We haven't had that in quite some time. You might have to go back to 2000 to have something like this."
Edwardsville won the Class AA state title in 2000, which was Heiderscheid's first season.
"We've been doing really good so far," Paul said. "Our defense has been really good. We've let in some unfortunate goals, but I feel we'll get better and we'll get some shutouts. I feel we'll keep winning games. Everybody's got a chance to score this year."
The Tigers never were threatened by the Panthers (1-4, 0-1), who were kept off the board until the 74-minute, 41-second mark.
Edwardsville, meanwhile, took the lead for good at 1-0 on Paul's tap-in from in front off a feed from junior Andrew Effler.
Romann scored from Paul from about 15 yards out to make it 2-0 at 52:31, and Heinlein put the game out of reach at 73:15 with a goal from senior Josh Kowalis.
Sophomore Jake Koenig scored at 74:41 for O'Fallon, but the Panthers couldn't do any more damage.
O'Fallon coach Jason Turkington said it was an uphill battle for his inexperienced team as soon as it fell behind 1-0.
"We're working. We're getting better with some things," Turkington said. "It's the second week of the season. The first half was just kind of boring all the way around. They didn't play that well; we were not very good, either, and they were up 1-0.
"The second half, our boys showed some emotion (and) Edwardsville really picked up their game. They were better than us tonight. ... Honestly, I thought we were out of it before (Edwardsville's second goal). We were chasing our tails a lot."
Heinlein's goal, his fourth of the season, came after Panthers' junior keeper Steve Green came out to attempt a play on the ball. But Heinlein got to it first and scored into the empty net.
"Two was way bigger than three," Heiderscheid said of Romann's goal. "But three means the game was over."
While Turkington felt the Panthers were in a bad situation when they fell behind 1-0, Heiderscheid was anything but comfortable.
"I thought if O'Fallon just kept working, the ball might drop (in)," he said. "They had guys who were very committed to the attack throughout the whole game. Even at 3-0, their work rate was exceptional."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.