The comforts of home could benefit the Waterloo boys soccer team.
Waterloo defeated the Columbia Eagles 3-1 in two overtimes Saturday night to win the Class 2A Columbia Regional. The victory enabled the Bulldogs to be on their home field for the Waterloo Sectional on Tuesday and Friday.
For the Bulldogs, it’s a welcome opportunity to take another giant step in their mission to repeat as 2A state champions.
“It’s going to be very nice,” said Bulldogs coach Chad Holden, whose team will meet Carbondale (9-13-1) in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. “It has been a little motivation for our guys. Not having to travel this deep into the playoffs is a nice part to our season. Nothing beats playing at home.”
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In the other semifinal, which kicks off at 6:30 p.m., Marion will play Jacksonville. The winners will meet in the title game at 7 p.m. Friday.
Waterloo and Columbia were tied 1-1 after two overtimes. Senior Philip Most lifted the Bulldogs with a goal in each of the 10-minute overtime sessions.
Most also had an assist on a goal by all-state senior Ben Huels, and Huels assisted on Most’s first goal with just over a minute to play in the first overtime.
It’s going to be very nice. It has been a little motivation for our guys. Not having to travel this deep into the playoffs is a nice part to our season. Nothing beats playing at home.
Waterloo boys soccer coach Chad Holden on the Bulldogs being the host team for the sectional
Holden was pleased with the win, but said the Bulldogs must avoid moments when they don’t perform up to their capability.
“We haven’t been consistently able to do that,” Holden said. “There was a 20-minute (stretch) in that game (against Columbia) where we didn’t look very well. The other 80, we looked very dangerous. We always talk about being consistent. If we can keep that consistency, we feel like we can play with anybody.”
Holden didn’t replace Huels for the entire 100 minutes.
“You can see he really wanted it,” Holden said. “He played hard the whole time. But it’s a team game. We need everybody to play their parts. We seem to be doing that right now. We’ve got dangerous weapons. If people want to mark up on Ben, we do have some other players that can put it in the back of the net also.”
Huels (28 goals, 10 assists), Most (20 goals, 15 assists) and senior Ryan Stites (10 goals) are dangerous on every trip into the offensive third. Seniors Dawson Holden and Griffin Lenhardt have 10 assists apiece.
Scouting the Terriers
Waterloo hasn’t played Carbondale this season, although Chad Holden and his coaches saw the Terriers play in the Carbondale Tournament in late August.
Carbondale on Saturday defeated Anna-Jonesboro, which placed second in the Class 1A state tournament last year, 2-1 in the championship game of the Olney Regional. The Terriers advanced by outscoring the Wildcats 5-4 in penalty kicks.
“They have a young squad, but Carbondale’s always had a great soccer tradition,” Holden said. “We know it won’t be easy, but we’re looking forward to it. They play some great teams and they’re always ready for the postseason.”
Freshmen James Oberg and Sajad Nasser and sophomores Noah Guyton and Epi Melchor lead the Terriers’ attack. Sophomore Braulio Ostos is the goalie.
Waterloo blanked Carbondale 4-0 in the regular season and 3-0 in the regional final last year in Carbondale.
“I don’t think we’ll make any adjustments toward them,” Holden said. “We like to play our game. We don’t like to make adjustments for other teams. We’re going to come out and play, hopefully, like we did in that second half against Columbia.”
Senior goalie Trevor Coplin will be back in action against Carbondale after completing a four-game suspension. Coplin last played in a 6-2 victory at Mascoutah on Oct. 4. Freshman Sam Ward was in goal in Coplin’s absence.
“He’s been our No. 1 cheerleader throughout these four games,” Holden said of Coplin. “He’s still been going to practices and working hard. He’s been a big part of our program the last four years. I know he’s pumped and ready to go.”
Holden isn’t concerned that Coplin could be rusty after a three-week layoff from games.
“He’s been getting his touches in,” Holden said. “The only time he hasn’t been getting touches is on game day. He’s a senior. He wants it just as bad as the rest of us. I think he might have even a little more incentive now. He really wants to get out there and show his stuff.”
Coplin has 10 shutouts, 64 saves and a 0.84 goals-against average.