West girls soccer beats East to claim city title
The Belleville West Maroons claimed their third consecutive girls soccer city championship Tuesday, but they had to work overtime to do it.
Olivia Alvarez scored off her own rebound 5:17 into overtime to give the Maroons a 2-1 victory over Belleville East.
Coupled with a 5-1 win over Althoff back on April 13, the Maroons (13-3-2, 4-1-1) earned the city title and their eighth win in a row. East downed the Crusaders 2-1 when the teams played April 24.
“I touched it forward, then I hit it, and the goalie was there, and she almost saved it,” said Alvarez, who has six goals for the season, of her game-winner, “but I kept going, got to the rebound and scored.”
Alvarez’s goal was set up by a nice push up field by junior standout Taylor Mathenia, who passed off to Alvarez. East goalkeeper Grace Tantillo stopped her first shot but could not corral the ball, allowing Alvarez to get to the rebound.
“Good all-around play,” said West coach Jason Mathenia. “Good job by Taylor to get the ball up from the backfield and the vision she entailed in that moment to find Olivia running.
“She put the ball right where she needed it to be.”
Tantillo was impressive in net the entire game for East (8-7-3, 1-4), as the Maroons peppered her throughout the contest. The junior finished with 12 saves.
“She played so well,” said East coach Andy Bohanon, whose team had a four-game win streak snapped. “We’ve been working on those high balls because she struggled with them, but tonight she stuck with them and kept us in the game.”
West got the contest’s first goal 20:24 in, when Melannie Kulig registered her sixth goal of the season during a scrum in front of the net off a corner kick. Courtney Vollmer earned an assist on the goal.
The Lancers tied it at 1-1 with 2:50 left in the first half, when junior Grace Brauer got in alone on West keeper Bailey Redden and scored her 14th goal of the season.
From there, it was West that had the majority of the opportunities, but it would not be until overtime that either team scored again.
“We really didn’t feel that got much past midfield the first 22 minutes (of the second half),” said Mathenia. “Over the course of the game, what did we hit? Four crossbars and two posts. It was unbelievable that those were just an inch or two off either way.
“But it’s one of those games, a city rivalry game. I’ve said for years, regardless of who has what on paper, they always end up being tight games, and this was an example of that.”
The win was definitely sweet for West netminder Redden, who may not have faced as many chance as Tantillo but may have made the save of the game when Brauer came in on her virtually alone again in the second half.
“Winning the city championship is huge because that’s three years in a row for me,” said Redden, who had seven saves. “Now we just have to try and build on it, keep this thing going.”
The teams will meet again Monday in a Class 3A regional semifinal at Belleville West.
“It’s a battle, there is nothing to be upset about,” said Bohanon. “I told the girls, which one matters more, tonight or Monday. They know, after tonight that it can go either way.”