Coach Matt Reeb feels like his Gibault boys soccer team is due for an offensive breakout.
Reeb watched the Hawks pepper Althoff with shot after shot in the first half in the championship game of the Class 1A Gibault Sectional on Friday at Oerter Park in Columbia, but Gibault settled for a grind-it-out 1-0 win on a second-half goal by senior Kyle Rocca.
Gibault (14-7-1) doesn’t want to go down that path again when it faces the Beardstown Tigers (17-3) in the Granite City Super-Sectional at 6 p.m. Tuesday. Reeb is optimistic that the Hawks offense won’t let it happen.
“If we play like (Friday), we’re due,” Reeb said. “We’re ready to explode on somebody and score several goals. We did everything right (against Althoff). We just couldn’t seem to put the ball in the net. But I feel like we’re due for a scoring outbreak if we continue to play like we have been. It will come.”
Gibault has three double-digit goal-scorers in seniors Ben Mueth (20), Dalton Scace (12) and Rocca (10). Sophomore Karson Huels has 12 assists, followed by Scace with 11.
“We just need one (goal) to get us started and hopefully the rest will fall into place,” Reeb said. “All three of them are very capable of getting that goal. That’s what makes us dynamic. We don’t have a player (teams) can just man-mark out of the game. We have several talented players who on any given night can beat you.”
We’re ready to explode on somebody and score several goals. We did everything right (against Althoff). We just couldn’t seem to put the ball in the net. But I feel like we’re due for a scoring outbreak if we continue to play like we have been. It will come.
Gibault boys soccer coach Matt Reeb
The Hawks won consecutive Class A titles in 2005, 2006 and 2007 under former coach Jim Corsi. Gibault won the Class 1A state tournament in 2013 under Reeb and appear to have the pieces to make it happen again.
“The guys are hungry an anxious. It’s been a goal since day one to be there,” Reeb said. “We’re one step away now. They’re hungry for it.”
Gibault, as usual, has played a difficult schedule that included games against Waterloo, the Class 2A state champion in 2015, St. Louis University High, Alton Marquette, Columbia, Althoff (twice), Marion and all the Southwestern Conference schools: Edwardsville, Collinsville, Belleville West (twice), O’Fallon, Alton, Granite City and Belleville East.
“We’ve challenged ourselves all year,” Reeb said. “When we get into this game, it shouldn’t be anything different or anything we haven’t seen already this year. We should be able to play normal. We’ve been tested. Hopefully, everything is natural for us.”
Defensively, the Hawks rely on juniors Aaron Grohmann and Robert Lugge in the middle and seniors Ryan Gool and Jake Hooser on the wings, along with sophomore Dylan Altadonna. Defensive midfielders Logan Doerr and Adam Stearns, both sophomores, have played well, and senior Trevor Davis has 13 shutouts, 84 saves and a 1.19 goals-against average.
The Tigers defeated Teutopolis 4-1 on Saturday to win the Macon Sectional. Senior forward Murphy Dometian had three goals and an assist in 4-1 win.
Dometian has 47 goals this season and 147 in his career.
“He’s by far their best player. He’s a really good player,” Reeb said. “He’ll be very talented and will be somebody we’ll have to watch, for sure. We’ll have to be organized to defend him well. If he gets loose, he’ll give us fits. They have a very dynamic attack. They are good and talented. They can score goals.”
Beardstown predominantly plays a small-school schedule. Its three losses are against quality opponents Quincy, Quincy Notre Dame and Jacksonville.
Reeb said a lack of familiarity with Beardstown could keep his players sharp.
“There’s a little bit of an unknown,” Reeb said. “They can’t say, ‘Oh, well, yeah, we played this team and we beat them before.’ I think that was kind of the scare in the regional and sectional because we played some of those teams before and we had beaten them. So (the players could think) we would go in and beat them again. It doesn’t always work like that.
“So with this team being an unknown, plus what’s at stake, a trip to state, I think they’ll be ready to go.”