High School Sports

Columbia, Althoff girls soccer teams begin postseason drive

Althoff freshman Liesl Whitener (19) is one of a handful of scoring threats for the Crusaders.
Althoff freshman Liesl Whitener (19) is one of a handful of scoring threats for the Crusaders. Zia Nizami/News-Democrat

The Class 1A girls soccer postseason hits high gear Monday with regional tournaments beginning in Columbia and Harrisburg and continuing in Breese and Olney.

Columbia Regional

▪  Top seeds: (1) Columbia (15-2-1), (4) Anna-Jonesboro (7-8-1), (5) Gibault (5-9), (6) Murphysboro (13-5-2)

▪  Favorite: Columbia

▪  Could challenge: Anna-Jonesboro

▪  Analysis: The Eagles would have to endure a major meltdown to not bring home the championship in this field. Columbia, which lost to Alton Marquette in the sectional championship last year, has what it takes to march into the state tournament. Kennedy Jones (19 goals), Fae Harrell (11 goals, 11 assists) and Blair Wittenbrink (10 goals) lead a potent offensive attack. Morgan Glaenzer and Taylor Parks are tough defenders in front of goalkeeper Rylee Iorio. Columbia takes an eight-game winning streak into the postseason.

▪  Schedule: Columbia vs. Murphysboro, 5 p.m. Tuesday; Anna-Jonesboro vs. Gibault, 7 p.m. Tuesday; Winners meet for title at 6 p.m. Friday.

Harrisburg Regional

▪  Top seeds: (2) Althoff (11-7-1), (3) Freeburg (8-10-1), (7) Massac County (4-5-2)

▪  Favorite: Althoff

▪  Could challenge: Freeburg

▪  Analysis: The door is wide-open for Althoff. Six of the Crusaders’ losses are to Southwestern Conference teams, with the other coming against Mississippi Valley Conference power Triad. Althoff can hurt opponents from every angle on offense. Speed and top scorers like Emelia O’Neill (19 goals, 13 assists), Amanda Kaltwasser (16 goals, seven assists), Liesl Whitener (12 goals) and Jessica Hoffman (11 goals) are difficult to subdue. Crusaders coach Juergen Huettner posted his 200th career victory at Althoff in the season opener.

▪  Schedule: Althoff vs. Massac County, 4 p.m. Tuesday; Freeburg vs. Harrisburg, 4 p.m. Wednesday; Winners meet for title at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Central Regional

▪ Top seeds: (1) Wesclin (13-6-1), (4) Central (5-11-1), (5) Father McGivney (5-11)

▪ Favorite: Wesclin

▪ Could challenge: Central

▪  Analysis: Wesclin possesses more firepower than the other teams in this regional, which should translate into the championship. The Warriors are blessed with four double-digit goal-scorers in Casey Bell (18), Elena Fridley (12), Claire Gruenke (12) and Sidney Christopher (10) that will stretch defenses. Kayle Thaler has nine shutouts in goal.

▪  Schedule: Wesclin vs. Metro-East Lutheran, 4 p.m. Tuesday; Central vs. Father McGivney, 4 p.m. Wednesday; Winners meet for title at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Olney Regional

▪ Top seeds: (2) Mater Dei (8-13), (3) Roxana (12-2); (6) Salem (1-11-1)

▪  Favorite: Mater Dei

▪  Could challenge: Roxana

▪  Analysis: Mater Dei has dropped eight of its last nine games after a 7-5 start to the season, so the Knights will take nothing for granted in this competition. Faith Rackers (12 goals) and Lainey Kramer (seven goals) lead Mater Dei.

▪  Schedule: Roxana vs. Salem, 4:30 p.m. Tuesday; Mater Dei vs. Olney, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday; Winners meet for title at 11 a.m. Saturday. All games are at Olney Central College.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm