The Belleville West Maroons started slow but finished with a rush on Tuesday as they took the first step toward the Belleville city soccer title with a 3-1 win over Althoff.
Barely missing on several good scoring chances early and with Athoff goalie Stephen Toenjes playing well, the high-scoring Maroons were held off the scoreboard until senior forward Sean Gouveia whistled a pass across the field to Jordan Tastad who scored on head ball with just over eight minutes left in the first half.
Drake Terveer and junior midfielder Ryan Herling added second half goals for West (5-1), which in winning its last five games has outscored its opponents 22-4.
“I thought we came out a little slow tonight. But we had some great connections that we just barely missed on in the first half,” West coach Rob Thornberry said. “On our first goal, (Sean) Gouveia showed great patience because he was buried pretty deep in the corner.
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“But he made a great pass and Jordan (Tastad) made an excellent cut to the goal and they connected. It was an excellent goal by Jordan.
Turning point of the game
Terveer beat Toenjes with a shot from 20 yards out with 35 minutes 52 seconds left in the game to give West a 2-0 lead. But it didn’t last long. Exactly 61 seconds later, Althoff’s high-energy sophomore forward Jimmy Monken broke in and beat West goalie Brandon Gregory to cut the lead to 2-1.
With Althoff, which had the better of the offensive chances in the second half, pushing forward, Monken attemped to split two Maroon defenders with 15 minutes left. Monken was knocked off his feet as both the Althoff crowd and players and coaches yelled for a possible foul.
But none was called.
“I would have liked to have had a foul called there. But honestly from my angle I really couldn’t tell for sure,” Althoff coach Joe Burchett said. “I know that (Jimmy) Monken was all over the field tonight. He plays with a great deal with heart and desire.
“I’m proud my team. We played very well and from my view I thought we had the better of the play in the second half. It was a very good effort.”
Althoff drops to 4-5-1 with the loss.
The finishing touches
Gregory, in his first season of playing goalie at the varsity level, made several outstanding saves — including three diving stops in a seven minute stretch midway in the second half as Althoff applied heavy pressure.
But Terveer’s goal and then the clincher by Herling which came with 2:41 left in the game were too much for the Crusaders to overcome.
“Brandon (Gregory) has played very well in goal for us. He’s a very fast quick and quick athlete and tonight he made some very good saves,” Thornberry said. “I thought Drake (Terveer) hit a great shot on his goal and that (Ryan) Herling did a good job of keeping the ball in and then hitting the shot with the goal which put us ahead 3-1.
“I’ll tell you one thing. I was really impressed with (Althoff’s) No. 7. (Monken). He plays with a lot of passion for the sport.”
Althoff plays at Mount Vernon on Saturday; Belleville West plays at Belleville East on Saturday
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.