The Highland High School boys soccer team edged Jerseyville 2-1 Tuesday night of last week to advance to Saturday night’s Class 2A Jacksonville Regional championship, where the Bulldogs suffered a 2-1 season-ending setback in double overtime to the host Crimsons.
The game was deadlocked at 1-1 and Jacksonville was down a man with six minutes to play in double overtime after the Crimsons leading scorer Steven Albers was charged with his second yellow card.
But Jacksonville senior captain Nash Oldenettel stepped up and bent in a corner kick for the game-winning goal with 46 seconds left to lift Jacksonville to the double OT triumph and the regional championship on its home field.
“What a great game,” said Highland coach Josh Oswald, whose team finished with a solid 14-5-3 record. “When you get two teams ranked in the top 10 in the state (in Class 2A) and you’re playing for a regional championship, that’s the type of game you get. Hats off to Jacksonville and I only wish them the best going forward. This doesn’t get any easier any year but I’ve never been more proud. The boys left it all out there. It hurts right now, it hurts a lot but this team has a lot to to be proud of.”
Drew Keller put the Crimsons on top in the first half.
However, Highland junior forward Evan Herman tallied the equalizer off a nice assist from junior defender Drake Gehrs in the second half. Gehrs drove a nice ball to the back post where Herman won the battle in the air headed it for a beautiful finish past the Jaksonville keeper to knot the game.
“Evans goal was an amazing goal and it was a team goal because it was a set piece we had practiced and the boys put it together in the game,” Oswald said.
While Jacksonville moved on to play Marion in the semifinal of the Class Waterloo Sectional on Tuesday, Highland’s season came to an end but not before taking huge strides.
“We went from 7-16 last season to 14-5-3 this season and that in itself is incredible,” Oswald said. “We won our conference championship which was loaded with quality teams, including the defending state champions (Waterloo). We just took a very good Jacksonville team and gave them everything and it took two overtimes to get a winner. While we might of ended up a little short tonight afer just coming out on the wrong end of a good game, I’d go to battle with these 18 players any day. These 12 seniors are gonna be dearly missed.”
Highland 2, Jerseyville 1
Herman scored with 6 1/2 minutes remaining in the game to propel the soccer Bulldogs to a 2-1 victory over Jerseyville Tuesday night in the semifinal of the Class 2A Jacksonville Regional.
“What a great effort by Jerseyville, they gave it their all but we were able to fight through, stick together and get a total team effort win,” Oswald said. “It was a great effort by the fellas.”
Jerseyville’s Drake Blackwell tied the game at 1-1 in the 51st minute on a free kick that seemed to spark the Panthers as they had sustained pressure most of the second half, including ringing two blasts off the crossbar.
But it was not enough as Jones turned away nine Jerseyville shots on goal in the game and Herman capitalized late for the game-winning tally.
Herman jumped on a loose ball that deflected off a Jersey defender and parlayed it into the game-winning goal with 6:33 to play to raise his team-leading total to 14 markers. Senior midfielder Brendan Schrage was credited with his fourth assist of the season.
Highland lit up the scoreboard first in the 20th minute when Schrage had the good fortune to receive an errant clearing pass by Jerseyville’s defense and carried the ball in all alone on Panther goalie Cody Gibson and buried it.