The Highland High School boys soccer team posted a 3-1 record and came away with a fifth-place finish out of 16 teams at the very competitive Metro Cup Tournament, which was held last week at the SWIC campus in Belleville.
On Monday of last week, the Bulldogs opened the tournament with a 6-0 shellacking of Mount Vernon. Next on Wednesday, Highland was edged out by Gibault 2-1 in double overtime. The Bulldogs bounced back with two big victories, first prevailing in a 2-1 triumph in penalty kicks over Mater Dei on Friday evening before taking down Belleville Althoff 2-1 in the fifth-place final on Saturday afternoon.
O’Fallon shut out Springfield 2-1 to capture first place, while Gibault blanked Marion 2-0 to claim third place.
Junior Brent Rapien, senior Mitch Miller and junior Lucas Ammann provided a big chunk of Highland’s offensive production in the four games. Rapien accounted for three goals and three assists, while Ammann and Miller each added two goals apiece. Ammann also had one assist.
“We faced very tough competition and played pretty well,” said Highland coach Josh Oswald. “When you come away with three wins out of four games and you beat Mater Dei and Belleville Althoff, which are both pretty good teams this year, and your one loss is 2-1 to Gibault in double overtime, that is a good start to the season. There is some room for improvement, but overall I’m pretty happy. At times, we moved the ball around very well and put pressure on and forced turnovers. But we need to do it more often. We sometimes kind of sat back and were conservative. We want our guys to be high energy and working hard and leaving everything out there on the field until they come in and rest for a few minutes.”
In the fifth-place final, all three goals were scored in the first half. Rapien and sophomore midfielder Drake Gehrs notched Highland’s two goals while Justin Robinson scored Althoff’s lone marker.
In the 2-1 victory in penalty kicks over Mater Dei, both goals were scored in the first half, with Miller scoring the Bulldogs’ goal off a feed from Rapien. The Knights’ goal was put in by Luke Brinker.
Highland junior goalie Luke Jones stopped 12 of Mater Dei’s 13 shots on goal while Garrett Boeckmann saved five of Highland’s six shots on net.
Tallying successful penalty kicks for the Bulldogs were Rapien, Ammann and freshman Nick Sikora.
In addition, Jones denied all three of the Hawks’ PK attempts.
In the 2-1 overtime loss to Gibault, Highland received a second-half tally from Rapien off an assist from Ammann that matched the Hawks’ output from before halftime and ultimately sent the game into extra time.
But it was Gibault which would prevail. Dalton Scace notched his second goal of the game and fourth of the young season in the first overtime period to lift the Hawks to the victory.
Gibault keeper Trevor Davis saved seven of eights shots Highland put on goal while Jones turned away eight of the Hawks’ shots on net, including a PK attempt.
In the convincing 6-0 win over Mount Vernon, the Bulldogs scored a pair of markers in the first half before pumping in four more after halftime.
Ammann netted a pair of goals while Rapien, Miller, Sikora and sophomore Evan Herman each added one goal.
Rapien and junior Brendan Schrage each dished out two assists while Gehrs and sophomore Jake Ramsey each had one assist.
Highland’s defense was also stout and Herman, filling in for Jones in the game, made six saves to preserve the shutout over the Rams. Herman played the first 70 minutes and made all the saves. Sam Million was in the net for the final 10 minutes as the duo recorded a shared shutout.
Providing solid support on defense throughout the tournament were junior Brett Korte, sophomore Cory Stieb, senior Payton Barowski, sophomore Blake Hagler, senior Sam Million, Ramsey and senior Jake Landmann.