Belleville West senior Sean Gouveia’s attempt to lift the Maroons out of a deep hole Tuesday proved too little, too late.
Gouveia scored two goals in the final 7 minutes, 35 seconds, but O’Fallon withstood the onslaught and posted a 3-2 victory in a Southwestern Conference game.
“The boys executed very well and we finished some opportunities, which was the big difference,” said O’Fallon coach Jason Turkington, whose team is 7-5-1 overall and 2-1-1 in the SWC. “This was the first game our back four played the entire game. They might have been a little fatigued. ... But let’s be honest: Gouveia is a phenomenal player. Two great goals.”
Gouveia was dangerous but subdued for most of the match. O’Fallon took a 1-0 lead on senior Mitchell Palmer’s restart goal at 14:18, then used the wind to bloat the margin to 3-0 on second-half goals by seniors Matt Benway and Jake Koenig. Benway’s goal, at 55:52, came on a free kick, while Koenig’s at 59:35 came on a header off a 40-yard free kick by Benway.
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“We played our best, although we had a little hiccup in the back (late in the game),” Benway said. “But it’s easily fixable and we’re ready to come out Thursday and get a win. Gouveia had a great free kick, and on his second goal, we had an issue marking and he had a wide-open shot and he buried it. That’s what good players do.”
West (9-4, 2-2) lost for the third time in four games after reeling off seven consecutive wins.
“A little bit of magic from Sean there at the end,” Maroons coach Rob Thornberry said. “The score looked a little more respectable. They came out strong in the second half, got a couple of goals and then there was a momentum shift.
“We scored on the free kick and that gave us a little bit of juice and a little bit of motivation. We calmed down and started possessing the ball. We started playing soccer. It took us a long time to get there.”
Where’s the D?
The Maroons are experiencing difficulty on their back line. O’Fallon had them on their heels for most of the second half and could have scored more than three goals.
West posted a 5-0 shutout Monday against struggling Triad, but was blistered in a 6-2 loss to Ladue in the CYC/Bob Guelker Tournament on Friday.
“We’re going into the Gateway (Classic) Tournament, which is a tough tournament,” Thornberry said. “We have some questions to be answered. We’ve got three good games coming up and I think that will help us prepare for the regional.”
The Maroons also played much of the second half without junior midfielder Ryan Herling, who was kicked in the leg during a dust-up in the center of the pitch.
Back on track
Turkington was bullish about the Panthers’ performance and believes good things will happen in the remaining games of the regular season.
O’Fallon has won two straight after dropping three in a row in the CYC Tournament to Eureka, Mehlville and CBC.
“We played well,” Turkington said of his team’s showing against West. “Here’s the thing: People look at our record and they think we’re not playing well. But four of our five losses are to the top seven teams in St. Louis. We’ve had two bad scorelines (5-0 against Collinsville, 7-0 against CBC), but we’re playing well. We feel pretty good.”
West will play Kirkwood in the Gateway Classic at 5 p.m. Thursday at Belleville East. O’Fallon will play host to always-tough Chatham Glenwood at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.