Althoff senior Jessica Hoffman didn’t have the opportunity to make much of an impact when the Crusaders faced Belleville West earlier in the season
So when the Crusaders’ other city rival, Belleville East, came up on the schedule Monday night, Hoffman did everything she could to make sure Althoff came out on top.
Hoffman, who was sidelined with a hamstring injury in the opening minutes of the Crusaders’ 3-0 loss to the Maroons on April 12, scored twice against the Lancers — providing what were the go-ahead goal and an insurance tally — as Althoff defeated East 4-2 at Charlie Woodford Field.
“It was amazing that I could be back for this,” said Hoffman, who missed two matches after the injury and still has her left leg tightly wrapped. “I have a great line behind me that plays hard and lets me give it my all.
“To get this win felt really nice for me.”
Althoff’s victory gives the city championship to Belleville West for the fourth consecutive season. The Maroons tied East 2-2 on April 19 to finish the year 1-0-1 in city play. Althoff went 1-1-0 and the Lancers were 0-1-1.
Hoffman’s first goal came with just more than four minutes left in the first half, snapping a 2-2 tie.
The senior found herself alone in space for just a second and rocketed a shot from 25 yards out that barely eluded the outstretched arms of East goalie Grace Tantillo.
Her second goal was even more impressive, as she took a header from Liesl Whitener near the box and followed suit with a header of her own at the 21-minute mark of the second half.
“Lisel wanted it off the corner kick,” said Hoffman, who increased her goal total for the season to 17. “and she made just an amazing ball, and I was just there to direct it into the goal. Make sure the keeper didn’t get it.”
Hoffman also was an important part of an aggressive Althoff offense that played a defensive role by keeping East contained in its own end once the Crusaders took the lead.
“We had Hoffman out there chasing every loose ball, no matter where it was,” said Althoff coach Juergen Huettner. “We had in the midfield our captain Madison Eghigian and Lisel Whitener just putting on so much pressure.
“When we saw we had them back on their heels, we worked hard to keep the pressure up and the ball in their end. “
The Crusaders improved to 11-2-4 with the win.
East coach James Chambers said his team’s effort was not as strong as the ones it had put forth in a recent string of games where the Lancers had gone 5-0-2.
“We knew at one point we were going to have one of those games where things did not go our way,” said Chambers, whose Lancers dropped to 8-3-3. “Today was definitely one of those.
“Taking nothing away from Althoff, because they played well, but we just did not play up to our talent level. It’s something the girls will have to learn from.”
When East did manage to get past midfield, the Lancers had trouble finding openings for their top player Grace Brauer.
Although, the senior did tally her team’s second goal of the game after that her chances were limited. Much of the credit for that belongs to performance of junior defender Andersyn Foster.
“We really wanted to stay marked on her and not give her many opportunities,” said Foster, “so I was just constantly letting her know I was on her back. I also knew if she were to get the ball, that my back line was behind me just in case.”
The game’s first two goals came on almost identical free kicks.
The Lancers’ Haley Harlan put one past leaping Althoff goaltender Rachel Monken from 25 yards out 4:44 into the match.
Althoff’s Sophie Monken did the same, curving the ball past Tanzillo into the right corner but from 30 yards, at 17:14.
Brauer gave East a 2-1 lead when she found an opening in the Althoff defense at 11:03. The goal gives her 18 for the season.
Whitener tied it a little more than a minute and a half later, when she got past a defender on a rush and beat Tanzillo.
Althoff’s next match is Wednesday when it travels to Breese to play Mater Dei. East is on the road at Triad on Tuesday.