Since the turn of the century, the Gibault Hawks boys soccer team has ended its season at the state tournament more often than not.
Why should 2016 be any different?
Aaron Grohmann put the Hawks on top less than 10 minutes in and Gibault added four goals in a dominant second half as they breezed to a 5-0 win over the Beardstown Tigers on Tuesday night in the Class 1A Granite City Super-Sectional.
With the win, Gibault (15-7-1) advances to the state tournament for the 10th time since 2000.
Its 2005, ’06, ’07 and ’13 teams came home champions, something this year’s edition of the Hawks hope to do, beginning with a 7 p.m. semifinal Friday against Normal University High at EastSide Centre in East Peoria.
U-High (15-6-5) advanced with a 1-0 win over Elgin St. Edward at the Hinckley-Big Rock Super Sectional.
“This means so much to us,” said Gibault senior Ben Mueth, who tallied Gibault’s first two second-half goals. “Everything we’ve worked for this season, has lead up to this.
“It’s what soccer at Gibault is all about.”
It will be coach Matt Reeb’s second trip to state with the Hawks. He was at the helm when they won the state title in 2013. Their previous visits were under the direction of Jim Corsi.
“I am so proud of this senior class and those on the team who have not experienced state before,” said Reeb. “They worked so hard in the offseason and we knew could have done it last year, but we didn’t.
“These kids have worked hard and trusted each other. It’s what they wanted.”
With just one goal on the season coming into the super-sectional, Grohmann collected his second at a most opportune time, heading the ball into the net off a Kyle Rocca corner kick just over eight minutes into the match, breaking a scoreless deadlock.
“Getting that goal early, was really big,” said Grohmann. “We won a corner, got a flick on it and I think their goalie misjudged it and I was able to put it in, right over the defender.”
Grohmann’s goal also seemed to swing the momentum of the game completely in Gibault’s direction.
Beardstown had a mustered a few scoring opportunities early, especially a couple of close calls from star forward Murphy Dometien, who came into the match with 47 goals. But after falling behind, those opportunities dwindled and were almost nonexistent in the second half.
“They really didn’t play a complete formation, were a little different in how they attacked,” said Mueth, who tops the Hawks with 22 goals. “So it took a while to figure them out. Once we did, we really were able to step up and our play really picked up steam.”
Mueth opened Gibault’s second-half offensive onslaught tallying off a free kick from about 35 yards out 5:20 into the second half. He struck again off a Karson Huels assist a little over three minutes later.
Senior Dalton Scace and sophomore Ryan Swindle tallied Gibault’s final two goals as its dominance continued.
“I kind of figured if we could get the door broken loose, the goals might start coming in bunches,” said Reeb. “And that’s kind of what happened. We scored early, but could not quite get that second goal.
“But than in the second half, that door came loose and the goals came quickly.”
Beardstown coach Adam Hamilton was proud of his team’s performance. The Tigers (17-4) also saw their season end at the super-sectional in 2015, falling to Anna-Jonesboro 1-0.
“This was just not our night,” said Hamilton. “We could not put our passing together. Our usual rhythm of play was not there.
“Gibault was able to capitalize on that and I really see them contending for a state title this weekend.”