Tuesday evening didn’t begin so well for Columbia senior Connor Jackson, a starting midfielder whose name was not announced with the rest of his teammates before the game.
But Jackson made sure he was recognized during the action, as he scored at 56 minutes, 33 seconds to give the Eagles a 1-0 victory over rival Gibault.
“Sean (Rickey) dribbled it down and he tried to take a shot, but it deflected off one of the (Gibault) guy’s foot,” Jackson said. “I just tapped it into the (left) corner.”
Rickey got the assist on the goal as the Eagles improved to 7-0-1. Sophomore Jon Kuebler posted the shutout in goal.
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Jackson acknowledged that “it really made me nervous” when the public-address announcer didn’t include him among the starters. Coach Jason Mathenia reassured him it was a mistake.
“He kind of looked over at me and I said, ‘Stay up there because you’re starting. Count the players. They’ve only called out 10,’” Mathenia said. “He’s definitely starter material. It was just a little goof-up. No big deal.
“Connor was a workhorse tonight, whether I had him out wide or I had him up top. He worked really hard. Credit goes to him for his work ethic and being in the right place.”
Gibault, whose defense was up to the task for most of the game, fell to 5-7.
“They’re a good team,” Hawks coach Matt Reeb said of the Eagles, the defending Class 1A state champions. “I told my guys, ‘We’re only going to continue to get better.’ We did so tonight. It’s always a good game, but they start 10 seniors and we start all kinds of underclassmen. My boys did a good job of rising up to the challenge against a very good team.”
Rickey, in addition to getting the assist on the only goal of the game, was a thorn in Gibault’s side on every throw-in. Rickey, who uses a flip throw, regularly puts the ball in the box to create scoring chances for the Eagles.
“Oh, my goodness, I’m so glad he’s going to graduate,” Reeb said. “That’s just ridiculous. I always tell Mathenia, ‘You have an unbelievable weapon. You get 20 corner kicks a game because every throw-in is a corner kick.’ You have to prepare for it and tell the guys, ‘Don’t just let throw-ins happen and reset your defense. You can’t do it against them.’”
Mathenia said Rickey’s throw-ins “are more dangerous than a corner kick.”
“It’s a weapon and it’s a nice weapon to have. We’ll definitely miss that next year,” said Mathenia, whose team has permitted just one goal this season.
Davis shines in goal
Gibault goalie Trevor Davis was under the gun for much of the game, but displayed good hands, quick feet, sound judgment and plenty of confidence.
Unofficially, Columbia outshot the Hawks 16-6.
“He played one of his better games,” Reeb said. “He’s confident in everything he does. He’s an athlete. He understands the game and believes in himself, which is good. He wasn’t overly challenged, I don’t think. He had some shots on him, but most of them were to him and he could handle them, and he handled them comfortably except for the one they scored on.”
Gibault will play host to Alton at Oerter Park at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Columbia will play host to Valmeyer at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.
Collinsville derails Edwardsville
Senior Luis De Anda scored all three goals for Collinsville on Tuesday as the Kahoks defeated visiting Edwardsville 3-1 in a Southwestern Conference game.
The Kahoks are 7-1 overall and 3-0 in the SWC. Edwardsville fell to 8-1-3 overall and 3-1-1 in the SWC.