Althoff, Gibault, Central and Mater Dei are the leading contenders to win Class 1A regional soccer championships this week as the postseason kicks into full gear.
All four teams will participate in different regionals, with Althoff competing in Greenville, Gibault at Oerter Park in Columbia, Central in Anna and Mater Dei in Carlyle.
Gibault (first) and Althoff (second) are the top two seeds in sub-sectional B and will not play one another for a regional title. The earliest the two Catholic teams, traditionally strong in soccer, could meet would be in the championship game of the Gibault Sectional on Oct. 23 at Oerter Park.
Mater Dei is seeded first in sub-sectional A, while Central is third. They also will not play one another for a regional crown, but could meet in the title game Oct. 23 at Oerter Park.
If the seeds hold for the sectional tournament, Mater Dei would face Althoff in the semifinals of the Gibault Sectional on Oct. 20. Gibault would play Central in the other semifinal.
But first, the teams must perform on the field to advance.
GIBAULT IN COLUMBIA
The Hawks are an extremely young team that relies heavily on underclassmen. They struggled out of the gate and were 5-7 after losing at Columbia 1-0 on Sept. 15. But they have won six of their last seven games to improve to 11-8.
Gibault owns noteworthy victories over Class 3A power Collinsville (1-0), Marion (1-0) and Alton Marquette (1-0). They also defeated Althoff 5-2.
Juniors Dalton Scace (17 goals, nine assists) and Ben Mueth (14 goals, seven assists) lead Gibault’s attack. Freshman Logan Doerr has four goals and four assists and freshman Karson Huels is tied with Scace for the team lead in assists with nine. Junior goalie Trevor Davis has nine shutouts and has solid backup support from junior Luc Epplin.
Gibault will meet 10th-seeded Lebanon (4-10) at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals. A victory would send the Hawks into the title game at 6 p.m. Friday against the winner of the other semifinal between fourth-seeded Freeburg (8-12) and eighth-seeded Valmeyer (5-13), scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday.
ALTHOFF IN GREENVILLE
The Crusaders (8-10-3) remain a dangerous team despite dealing with injuries throughout the season, most notably to leading scorer Donovan Gagen, who suffered a torn quad muscle.
Seniors Evan Toennies, Will Dall and Tyler Wade also have missed time, which has forced Althoff to rely heavily on younger players. The results, predictably, have been mixed.
Senior Justin Robinson, a physical 200-pounder, has emerged as a force in the middle of the field and leads the Crusaders with 16 goals and eight assists. Freshman Jimmy Monken is a tireless, determined player who has 15 goals and seven assists. Another freshman, Mitchell Kidd, has chipped in with seven goals.
Althoff will face sixth-seeded Greenville in the regional semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. Third-seeded Wood River (15-4-1) will play fifth-seeded Metro-East Lutheran (13-6) in the other semifinal at 6:30 p.m. The winners will square off in the championship game at 6 p.m. Friday.
Wood River defeated Metro-East Lutheran 3-2 on Sept. 15. Junior Kedric Norwood leads Metro-East Lutheran with 14 goals.
MATER DEI IN CARLYLE
The Knights (14-3-3) have enjoyed one of their most memorable seasons, and they own a 3-2 win over Gibault and a 1-1 tie against Class 2A state tournament-contender Waterloo. Mater Dei’s only losses are to Springfield, Highland and Belleville West.
Seniors Cade Breed (23 goals, 13 assists), Blake Beckmann (12 goals, two assists) and Benny Thompson (five goals), and junior Alex Loepker (four goals, 14 assists) carry the Knights. Breed is dangerous with both feet and is a dynamic playmaker when used on the wings.
Mater Dei has an experienced group led by 10 seniors. One of them, Garrett Boeckmann, has seven shutouts and a 0.65 goals-against average in the nets.
The Knights will play Wesclin (6-13) at 4 p.m. Tuesday. A victory would send them to the championship game at 4 p.m. Friday against the winner of the other semifinal between fourth-seeded Massac County and sixth-seeded Carlyle (2-13).
CENTRAL IN ANNA
The Cougars have reeled off seven wins in their last eight games and take a 10-7-1 record into their regional semifinal against fifth-seeded Mount Carmel at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.
If Central wins, it will play for the championship at 11 a.m. Saturday against the winner of the other semifinal between second-seeded Anna-Jonesboro and seventh-seeded Harrisburg.
Colin Wright is the Cougars’ leading scorer with 12 goals and eight assists. Beyond him, Central owns tremendous balance provided by juniors Coty Boruf (eight goals, four assists) and Ryan Munie (five goals, seven assists).
Sophomore Hunter Kruep (five goals, four assists) and juniors Eduardo Herrera (five goals, one assist), junior Griffin Kruse (five goals, two assists) and Jensen Lake (four goals, three assists) also have shined. Sophomore Jay Detmer has nine shutouts in goal.