BELLEVILLE — It was better late than never for the Belleville West boys soccer team Thursday.
Junior Matt Klosterman's throw-in tipped off the fingers of leaping goalie Cody Mathews, of Belleville East, at 53 minutes, 33 seconds, giving the Maroons a 2-1 victory over the host Lancers in the completion of a Southwestern Conference game.
The first half was played Tuesday. The teams were tied at 1 when lightning suspended the contest just 19 seconds into the second half.
"With Matt and that special talent, it's bound to happen at some point," West coach Rob Thornberry said of Klosterman's ability to put throw-in into the box. "(Howard) Thomas is the main target in that situation, but he wasn't on (the field). It was a good option to just throw it at the goal."
The score would have been disallowed and a goal kick would have occurred had the ball not been touched by Mathews. But officials saw the deflection and ruled the play a goal when the ball settled inside the right post.
"You can't coach him to not make that save," Lasley said. "When the ball's coming in, whether it's a throw-in or a goal kick ... his instinct is to go get it -- and it should be. It was just a weird ball."
West improved to 7-4-1 overall and 2-1 in the SWC. It was the Maroons' first victory since Sept. 10 against Granite City. The Lancers slipped to 4-5-1 and 1-3. East still can gain a share of the city championship if it defeats Althoff on Oct. 10.
"Their goalie was near post, so I was looking for one of our players back post," Klosterman said. "I was throwing it and it started to move back post. I guess he (Mathews) came out and read it wrong. It just tipped off his fingers and went in the goal. I'll take it. It's a win."
The Lancers mustered little in terms of offense when the teams reconvened Thursday.
"We couldn't do anything today," East coach Mark Lasley said. "We couldn't connect three or four passes together. We just didn't look good at all --from the beginning. Every time it was down at our end, we would knock it out of bounds.
"There have been a lot of weird East-West games over the years. But after a day and a half, a halftime ... And all three goals were weird. This one was weird and the two the other night were weird. It was just a strange game."
East had tied the score at 1 on Tuesday on senior Aaron Peters' goal into an empty net at 28:30. Senior Todd Seibert had given the Maroons a 1-0 lead at 8:09 when he scored along the endline. The Lancers stopped defending on the play, believing the officials were about to call the ball out of bounds.
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.