Tuesday will provide one of the busiest schedules of postseason boys soccer games in recent memory, with seven games being played in three classes in the metro-east.
There will be two games in the Class 1A Gibault Sectional at Oerter Park in Columbia, two games the Class 2A Columbia Regional at Columbia High and two games in the Class 3A Edwardsville Regional at the Edwardsville Sports Complex. One other Class 3A game will be played at Collinsville High, which will be part of the Quincy Regional.
Following is a rundown of all the action:
Class 1A Gibault Sectional
Althoff (10-10-3) will play Mater Dei (16-3-3) in the first semifinal game at 5 p.m., followed by the second semifinal between Gibault (13-9) and Anna-Jonesboro (16-5-1) at 7.
The winners will meet in the title match at 6 p.m. Friday at Oerter Park.
Althoff, which defeated Wood River 3-0 on Friday to win the Greenville Regional, tied Mater Dei 0-0 on Sept. 26 in Belleville. Mater Dei advanced to the sectional Friday by outscoring Massac County 4-3 in penalty kicks to record a 1-0 victory.
Crusaders coach Joe Burchett anticipates another struggle against the Knights.
“They’ve had a good year,” Burchett said, noting, however, that Althoff was missing some of its key players in the first game against Mater Dei. “We were without Evan (Toennies) and we’ll have some other seniors back, so I’m hoping that boost keeps our confidence high.
“Coming into (Friday), I could feel the confidence was high and that if we could muster an early goal, it would help us. Against Mater Dei, it will have to be the same thing. Each opponent is getting tougher and tougher as we go. Hopefully, we stay healthy.”
Althoff’s revamped midfield has come up big in its last two wins. Junior Stephen Waltrip, normally a defender, had two goals and senior Justin Robinson and sophomore Jimmy Monken had one apiece in a 4-0 win over Greenville in the regional semifinals last Tuesday. Waltrip, Robinson and Monken scored against Wood River.
Two of Mater Dei’s losses, against Springfield and Highland, were in the first week of the season. The Knights’ only other defeat was against Belleville West.
Mater Dei coach James Arnold, an Edwardsville High graduate, feels fortunate to have previously faced Althoff. The Knights knew little about Massac County and came uncomfortably close to seeing their season abruptly ended by the Patriots.
“I’ve been reading about (the Crusaders) during the season and kind of been watching them,” Arnold said. “They’ve made some (lineup) changes. I don’t know if Waltrip will play in the center of the park against us because I don’t know how they feel about us. But at the same time, it sounds like he and Robinson work well together. If they’re not going to put (Waltrip) at center back, we might come down the middle of the field. Who knows?
“Admittedly, they play a tougher schedule. We’ve been lucky enough to play a couple of 3A teams, a couple of 2A teams. This (game against Althoff) looks like the Clash of the Titans. That’s what it looks like on paper. It’s going to be a good game.”
Robinson (18 goals, eight assists) and Monken (17 goals, eight assists) lead the Crusaders in scoring. Waltrip has eight goals and six assists and freshman Mitchell Kidd has seven goals.
Mater Dei’s top offensive weapons are seniors Cade Breed (26 goals, 14 assists), Blake Beckmann (13 goals, two assists) and Benny Thompson (six goals), and junior Alex Loepker (five goals, 17 assists).
Gibault has made dramatic strides during the season, but the Hawks could face a difficult assignment against Anna-Jonesboro, a team that has been on the rise in recent years.
The Hawks reached the sectional with a 6-0 victory over Freeburg in the title game of the Gibault Regional on Friday. Gibault has won eight of its last nine games, the only blemish being a 1-0 loss to O’Fallon on Oct. 8.
Junior Dalton Scace had three goals against Freeburg to give him 22 this season, while junior Ben Mueth added two goals to give him 17. Freshman Karson Huels has 12 assists, two more than Scace, to lead Gibault. Junior Trevor Davis has 13 shutouts in goal.
“We’ve just got to stay patient and take it one game at a time, but I like where we’re at,” said Gibault coach Matt Reeb, whose team was 5-8 on Sept. 15. “Somebody’s going to have to play well to take us down, but we’ll see what happens.”
Defensively, the Hawks will attempt to subdue Wildcats senior forward Zach Parr, who scored five goals Saturday in a 5-0 victory over Central in the championship game of the Anna-Jonesboro Regional. Parr has 42 goals this season.
“It’s an obvious game plan: Stop Parr,” Reeb said.
Class 2A Columbia Regional
The top-seeded Eagles (20-1-1) are heavy favorites to win the regional. Columbia’s only loss was a 2-0 decision to Columbia (Mo.) Hickman in the Gateway Classic on Oct. 3.
Columbia, which won the Class 1A state championship last season and seems poised for a repeat in the larger class, will play Mascoutah (12-10-1) in the semifinals at 5 p.m. The Eagles dismantled the Indians 7-0 on Sept. 3.
The other semifinal, which will kick off at 7, matches Marion (16-4-1) against Triad (8-10-3). The championship game will be at 6 p.m. Friday.
Columbia, which won the Msgr. Larry Walsh Division of the CYC Tournament, closed the regular season Saturday with a 4-2 victory over Belleville West.
Coach Jason Mathenia’s deep and experienced team is led by seniors Sean Rickey (22 goals, 23 assists), Ryan Gudeman (20 goals, 14 assists), Dalton Verrett (15 goals), Cameron Roth and Adam Becker (eight goals, 15 assists). Sophomore Jon Kuebler has 14 shutouts.
Class 2A Carbondale Regional
Another state-tournament contender, Waterloo (18-3-1), will play Salem at 5 p.m. in the Carbondale Regional. If the Bulldogs win, they will play for the championship at 3 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the other semifinal between Carbondale and Herrin.
Waterloo, which won the Mississippi Valley Conference, is powered by senior Kane Osterhage (23 goals, 16 assists) and junior Ben Huels (21 goals, six assists). Senior Clay Metz has 14 goals and five assists.
Class 3A Edwardsville Regional
It’s a mini-Southwestern Conference tournament in this regional, where Edwardsville (10-6-4) will face Belleville East (3-13-1) at 4:30 p.m., followed by O’Fallon (12-7-1) against Belleville West (15-7) at 6:30. The title game will be at 6 p.m. Saturday.
Edwardsville has lost five of its last seven, but defeated East 3-0 early in the season. O’Fallon, which has won seven of its last nine, defeated West 3-2 on Sept. 29 in O’Fallon.
West senior Sean Gouveia ( 27 goals, 11 assists) and Drake Terveer (17 goals, five assists) and O’Fallon senior Jake Koenig (17 goals, 10 assists) are the top scorers in the regional.
Class 3A Quincy Regional
Collinsville (17-4-1) will open the postseason with a home game against Granite City (3-14-3) at 5 p.m. The winner will meet Quincy (13-3-2) or Alton (9-9-3) for the championship at 5 p.m. Saturday at Flinn Stadium in Quincy.
The Kahoks, who won the SWC, defeated Granite City 2-1 in overtime Sept. 29. Collinsville has a dynamic attack led by seniors Luis De Anda (17 goals, seven assists) and Eric Tejada (15 goals, four assists). Junior goalie Brett Niedzwiecki has 10 shutouts.