Anna-Jonesboro allowed Gibault junior Carley Olson too much space to operate Saturday morning and Olson made the Wildcats pay the price.
Olson banged in the Hawks’ first two goals, Nos. 13 and 14 on the season, and Gibault went on for a 4-0 victory in the championship game of the Class 1A Gibault girls soccer regional at venerable Oerter Park.
Freshman Abby Phelps and junior Abby Hasenstab also tallied goals for the Hawks (7-8), whose third consecutive regional title earned them a game against Monroe County rival Columbia (12-7) in the semifinals of the Columbia Sectional at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“I’m confident,” Olson said of facing the talented Eagles, who won their own regional Friday with a 4-0 conquest of Althoff. “I watched the game (Friday) night and they have a few weak spots we’re going to try to capitalize on. They do have speed. We’re going to have to kick it up a notch.”
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In the other semifinal Tuesday, scheduled for 5 p.m., Alton Marquette (13-5-3) will face Mater Dei (16-4-3). The semifinals victors will collide in the championship game at 6 p.m. Friday.
Hawks coach Matt Reeb was pleased to see his squad earn another regional plaque, but is concerned about injuries to a handful of key players.
Junior defender Robyn Lindsey’s suffered what Reeb described as a “whiplash effect” after taking a shot in the first half against Anna-Jonesboro (6-11), and her absence in the final 40 minutes enabled the Wildcats to pose more of an offensive threat.
“She’s questionable for Columbia,” Reeb said. “I was hoping that we would get through this regional healthy and unscathed. Then we would have a realistic crack to take home a sectional championship. But I don’t know. We’ve got to heal some bodies.”
Junior Paige Lane already is out with an ACL tear, and senior Rachel Kuerz did not play Saturday and is questionable for Tuesday.
“That kills us whenever we’re a small school. We don’t have a big bench,” Reeb said.
“But this was a good win for the girls. Another regional, which is awesome for them. I’m happy for them. The junior class has had three straight. They’re hungry for a sectional. The problem is, can we put a full team on the field?”
Anna-Jonesboro had the first scoring chance. It came in the eighth minute when sophomore Elle Basler crossed a pass to the far post, but unmarked sophomore Emma Butterfield-Kocher couldn’t get off a clean shot and the Hawks were able to clear.
Gibault took over from there. Moments after Phelps’ left-footer from 20 yards was high, Olson dented the scoreboard when she rifled in a 20-yard shot at 11 minutes, 10 seconds.
Olson followed with three consecutive scoring chances, shooting wide left, heading wide right and hitting the right post with a blistering shot from the wing.
The Wildcats couldn’t withstand the pressure. They broke again at 28:36 when Hasenstab crossed a ball from the left that Anna-Jonesboro sophomore keeper Chelsea Rainier couldn’t come up with cleanly. Olson was there for the tap-in to make it 2-0.
“The second one, our coach has been preaching to follow it up, and I finally learned to do that,” Olson said with a laugh.
“She was on her game today,” Reeb said of Olson. “She came to play. She was tough to match up for them. We had tough matchups on the wing for them, too. We were just better in a lot of areas than them. Nothing against them. They played really hard. They gave us a very good game; it was a tough competition.”
Phelps’ goal was the real killer for Anna-Jonesboro, as it came with just 12 seconds left on the clock. That made it 3-0 at halftime, and Hasenstab scored the final goal to make it 4-0 at 76:06. Sophomore Kelly Dooley posted the shutout in goal.
“Waterloo Gibault wanted it more than us,” said first-year Wildcats coach Sarah Konecek, a graduate of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. “The girls played good; they didn’t play to the best of their ability. But we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the season. The next couple of years are going to be really good.
“We had a few good scoring chances. We just couldn’t hit them. All the goals that were scored, they had too much space. It came down to not marking up as well as we should have.”