There’s a little bit of luck involved in soccer.
Chatham Glenwood’s boys soccer team had none of it.
The Titans were unable to crack Gibault’s stingy defense and suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in the Class 2A University of Illinois-Springfield Super-Sectional at Kiwanis Stadium on a chilly Tuesday night.
“I think tonight we just ran out of time,” Glenwood coach Tommy Johnson said. “We had a lot of chances, just couldn’t put one away. Credit to Gibault, they got guys behind the ball, and they’re very strong defensively. It just didn’t fall our way tonight.”
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Glenwood (22-3-1) controlled possession throughout most of the game and unleashed all it had left for a wild finish in the final minutes.
It culminated with Glenwood senior Rylee Claton’s header off the crossbar with just over a minute remaining, which in the end didn’t matter since he was flagged offside on the play.
It was nevertheless quite exhilarating.
“That got me rattled a little bit,” Gibault goalkeeper Connor Olson said. “Good thing he was (offside) because they had a guy right there to finish it or have a good opportunity, so I’m thankful for that one. That was big.”
Gibault (17-6-3) didn’t have many offensive opportunities, especially in the first half with just three shot attempts.
However, junior forward Logan Doerr struck with 19:25 remaining in the second half after reeling in a nifty assist by junior teammate Karson Huels.
That’s how it appeared anyways. The decisive goal turned out to be stranger than that.
Doerr claimed the goal came off a Glenwood defender who was contesting the play.
“I had two guys on the side of me, and I just thought I had to go with speed and that will take me,” Doerr said. “Actually the other team hit it in — not me — and it’s kind of funny because I was like, ‘Did it look like it was me? Did it look like it was me?’ But made it happen. Here we are: going to state again.
“I guess he was trying to clear it out, and yeah, he hit in (the net).”
Gibault returns to state for the second consecutive year, but this is the first time in program history in 2A.
“We’re making history for Gibault, and 2A competition is two-times harder,” Doerr said. “But we’re striving for more, and here we are again.”
It seemed only a matter of time until the more aggressive team in red would get on the board in the first half.
There was no better opportunity than Glenwood senior midfielder Evan Paoni’s penalty kick with two minutes left before the break.
That was set up after sophomore defender Alek Votava drove a deep kick into Gibault territory to Paoni, who then found senior Darian Turner downfield to draw a foul inside the penalty box.
But Gibault’s young sophomore goalkeeper, Olson, came through like a veteran and made a diving save to his right side.
Olson finished with eight saves in the game.
“I’ve always just been good at PKs,” Olson said. “Everyone’s just all over me because I’m pretty good at them, and I knew I would come through for the team today.
“I was super-confident. I stuck with my instinct and knew that he was going that way.”
Gibault carried that momentum into halftime and sustained better possessions in the second half.
It was still a painful way to end the season for the Titans.
By the end of the game, Glenwood took eight shots on goal, while Gibault had just that one attempt on goal.
Paoni and Votava each had two shots on goal for Glenwood.
“They just sat back and played slow,” Paoni said of Gibault’s defense. “We didn’t attack much. We had a lot of opportunities. We could have scored — just didn’t go our way today.
“They just packed it in, and they had one guy up top pretty much the entire game. Other than that, they were defensive minded pretty much the whole game.”
Paoni still called it a great year despite the result. Eight of Glenwood’s 11 starters on Tuesday were seniors.
“We had great seniors,” Paoni said. “It was just all-around a good year.”