The Gibault boys soccer team is building up a head of steam at just the right time.
With their 2-0 victory over Althoff at Oerter Park in Columbia Wednesday, the Hawks have extended their winning streak to five games with just a week left before they open play in the Freeburg Regional.
"We're looking to build momentum as we get closer to the post season," said Gibault head coach Matt Reeb, whose team improved to 9-5-1. "With three remaining we want to keep building on it and carry it into the playoffs."
Althoff, meanwhile, has won just once since Sept. 13. They defeated Mount Vernon at GCS Ballpark, then secured ties against Granite City and Mater Dei heading into Wednesday's rivalry game in Columbia.
"We're very young, but we're showing up to play every night," said Althoff coach Skip Birdsong, who has just one senior on his roster. "Along the way you're going to take some lumps when you're a young team. We did play very hard tonight and hung in with them.
"When we gave up the first goal it was just hard to come back."
Senior Ben Mueth put Gibault on top at the 20 minute mark of the first half. Cameron Kincheloe sent a free kick up the middle to Mueth who won a foot race to the ball, then beat Althoff goalie Stone Galloway low and to his left.
"They only had one center back and I was screaming for it and got a great ball through," Mueth said.
The Crusaders tightened up the defense and allowed the Hawks few shots on goal.
Midway through the second half, Dalton Scace put a hard shot on the net from the top of the goal box, but was stopped on an outstanding save by Galloway. The Hawks widened the lead on the ensuing corner kick, however.
Kyle Rocca delivered the ball high and in front of the goal. Junior Aaron Grohmann was able to put it away to make the score 2-0.
"They had been putting a lot of pressure on us and we were really looking for that second goal," Grohmann said. "We ended up winning a corner ... The ball went up and I kind of lost it in the light for a second, but it came down and I was able to put it in."
The Crusaders (6-5-2) play again Thursday at Lou Fusz Soccer Park against Parkway West High School. They have six games in the final week of the regular season.