The O’Fallon boys soccer team has had its share of ups and downs this season, but the Panthers have been on the upswing in recent weeks, just ahead of the postseason.
A 4-2 victory over St. Louis University High last Friday in O’Fallon was noteworthy. The Panthers ran away with three second-half goals.
Senior Austin Wilkerson had two of the goals against the Junior Billikens, and he leads the Panthers with 10. Juniors Adam Hudder and Mason Macias had the other goals.
“Last week was a good week,” Panthers coach Jason Turkington said. “We won 1-0 (against) Gibault on their Senior Night, then 24 hours later we were back home playing a SLUH team that had only conceded seven goals all season. We went down 1-0 and battled back to 1-1 at half. We played very well in the second half and scored three more. We’re playing well and we’re anxious to see what happens when the entire team is healthy for the postseason.”
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The Panthers are seeded third in the Class 3A O’Fallon Regional and will play sixth-seeded Belleville West at 7 p.m. Tuesday. In the first game of the regional, also Tuesday, second-seeded Quincy will play eighth-seeded East.
The regional-championship game is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 22.
Collinsville began Thursday with an 8-7-2 record, which is indicative of the type of instability coach Clay Smith has battled all season.
“You want consistency through the season to make your life easier as a coach,” said Smith, whose team was to face visiting Alton on Thursday. “We’re on our fourth formation change of the year. If you asked me right now who was starting (Thursday), I couldn’t give you a solid 11 players. I could maybe give you six or seven, but as far as the other spots, we base that on our warmup, seeing who’s mentally and physically prepared for the match that night.”
But Smith also attributes the uncertainty to “the depth of our schedule and the way the other teams are playing as well.”
“There’s some good soccer in the area,” Smith said. “Our (Southwestern) conference is strong, but even our nonconference schedule, we’re losing games that traditionally Collinsville has won. And not just Collinsville, but other Southwestern Conference teams, in general. There are other programs that are having really good years.
“It’s been a fun year as far as watching soccer. Obviously, you don’t want to be on the losing side, but every game is very competitive. I can say that across the board for the entire metro-east. I don’t think there’s a team in this area that takes the night off. Anybody can beat anybody on a given night. It’s anybody’s game.”
The Kahoks are seeded fourth in the Class 3A Granite City Regional and will play fifth-seeded Alton at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals, their second matchup against the Redbirds in five days. Edwardsville is seeded first at Granite City and will play the host Warriors, seeded seventh, or ninth-seeded Pekin in the other semifinal.
The championship game at Granite City is at 5 p.m. on Oct. 21.
Class 1A playoffs
Class 1A regional championships are set for Friday and Saturday.
Althoff will face Wood River in the lone title game Friday, kicking off at 4 p.m. against Greenville in the Greenville Regional. Althoff defeated the host Comets 4-1 on Tuesday, while Wood River nipped Metro-East Lutheran 2-1 in the other semifinal.
Saturday is a busier day for local teams, with three regionals being decided.
Mater Dei will play Wesclin at 11 a.m. in the Carlyle Regional. Mater Dei blanked Christ our Rock Lutheran 8-0 in the semifinals Tuesday. Wesclin got past Carlyle 2-1 in the other semifinal Wednesday on goals by junior Trent Calvert and Luis Gonzalez. Mater Dei blasted Wesclin 8-1 on Sept. 1 in New Baden.
Gibault will meet Freeburg in the title game of the Freeburg Regional at 1 p.m. The Hawks downed Lebanon 7-0 in the semifinals Wednesday as sophomore Karson Huels and senior Kyle Rocca scored two goals apiece. Freeburg slipped past Father McGivney 1-0 on a goal by sophomore Noah Williams. Gibault drubbed the Midgets 9-0 on Sept. 15 in Freeburg.
Central will tackle Mount Carmel in the championship game of the Massac County Regional at 3 p.m. in Metropolis. The Cougars advanced Tuesday with a 3-1 victory over Massac County in the semifinals. Mount Carmel defeated Murphysboro 4-0 in the other semifinal Wednesday.
The winners Friday and Saturday will advance to the Gibault Sectional on Tuesday at Oerter Park in Columbia. Games will be played at 5 and 7 p.m. The sectional final is at 6 p.m. Oct. 21.
BND Boys Soccer Rankings
Rankings for metro-east teams; voting by area coaches and News-Democrat staff.
All Classes (1A, 2A, 3A)
Also receiving votes: Gibault (11-7-1); Collinsville (8-7-2); Alton (14-4-2); Triad (11-8); Mater Dei (12-6-2); Althoff (8-11-2); Central (13-5-1).