Columbia remained unbeaten Friday, but the Eagles were pushed to the max by Monroe County neighbor Waterloo in the semifinals of the CYC Tournament.
Senior Sean Rickey and junior Connor Jackson scored first-half goals for the Eagles, who held on for a 2-1 victory despite having a one-man advantage for the final 65 minutes.
“Waterloo is a good team,” Eagles coach Jason Mathenia said. “We get up on them 2-0 and they get one back to make it 2-1. You saw the energy level change on their part, a lot more high pressure from them. I would have been much more pleased if we had a bit more composure, but if we’re not doing our best and still find a way to win, I’m proud of the boys.”
Columbia (12-0-1) will play the Ladue Rams (10-3) in the championship game of the Msgr. Larry Walsh Division at 4 p.m. Saturday on Field 5 at St. Louis Soccer Park. Waterloo fell to 14-2 and saw its nine-game winning streak come to an end.
The Bulldogs lost starting goalie Trevor Coplin to a red card at 15 minutes, 35 seconds. Coplin, a junior, made a hard tackle outside the box on Columbia senior Ryan Gudeman as Gudeman moved in on a breakaway. Waterloo then turned to senior backup Kyle Schaefer in goal.
With the Bulldogs having 10 field players, Rickey buried the free kick to make it 1-0, and Jackson scored later in the half as Columbia built a 2-0 lead.
Waterloo junior Philip Most scored to cut the gap to 2-1, but there was no more scoring as Schaefer and Columbia sophomore keeper Jon Kuebler played well.
“I’m so proud of my guys,” said Waterloo coach Chad Holden, who went from four defenders to three after the red card on Coplin. “To be a man down for 70 minutes and the way we played? I think this team is amazing. I think we actually maintained possession for a good chunk of that game. I thought we played great possession-wise.
“I told them, ‘We’ll start a new winning streak and move on.’ This is a tournament game. We’re ready for that postseason now. We’re looking forward to it.”
Waterloo’s last quality scoring chance came in the final 10 minutes when senior Kane Osterhage ripped a low shot on goal that forced Kuebler to his knees to make a tricky save.
“Kuebler is young, but he’s matured so much from last year,” Mathenia said. “He’s one of the better keepers right now only as a sophomore. He’s got a lot of maturing to do still, but years down the road, he’s going to be one of the best ones around.”
The appearance in the championship game is Columbia’s second in the last three years. In 2013, the Eagles lost 2-1 in overtime to Seckman.
After two 10-minute sudden-death overtimes, Collinsville outscored Webster Groves 4-1 in penalty kicks to record a 2-1 victory in the semifinals of the Msgr. Louis Meyer Division.
The Kahoks (10-1-1), who trailed 1-0 until late in the second half, will face CBC (13-3) in the championship game at 8 p.m. Saturday on Field 5. CBC whipped St. Louis University High 4-0.
Seniors Luis De Anda, Eric Tejada and Austin Reiniger, and junior Jordan Blasingame converted penalty kicks, while Webster Groves’ only PK came from senior Sam Cashel.
Collinsville junior goalkeeper Brett Niedzwiecki made an outstanding save on senior John Binder that enabled Blasingame’s PK to clinch the outcome.
“It’s always stressful going in (PKs),” Niedzwiecki said. “But I was feeling it and the team had my back. It all just kind of happened.”
Niedzwiecki said breaking to his left to stop Binder “was a last-second decision.”
“You’ve just kind of got to go with your gut,” Niedzwiecki said. “To get a shot from 12 (yards) out, it’s hard to deal with.”
The Statesmen (11-3-1) grabbed a 1-0 lead on sophomore Jordan Andrews’ 40-yard goal just 23 seconds into the second half. The shot sailed over the hands of the leaping Niedzwiecki.
“The goal was our fault,” Smith said. “We just talked to the boys at halftime about what we wanted to do tactically to get the ball wide and counter them. Give credit to their back line. They intercepted a pass and caught us in transition and scored.
“But credit our boys. We changed our formation and pressed up. We kept fighting and Tejada found the back of the net and got us back in the game. I’m glad we kept our composure, kept our shape and kept attacking the goal. We showed character tonight; I’m proud of them.”
Tejada’s game-tying goal, which came with 8:37 left in regulation, caromed off the goalkeeper’s body and went back to Tejada, who finished into an empty net for his 10th goal.
Collinsville nearly won the game in the first overtime, but Jared Hamann’s shot from 25 yards out ricocheted off the crossbar and was cleared by the Statesmen.
The Kahoks played the final 6:58 of the second overtime with a one-man advantage, the result of a red card issued to Webster Groves senior David Richards.
Ladue scored two goals in less than one minute and led 4-0 at halftime, then held off a modest second-half rally and defeated the Maroons 6-2 in the semifinals of the Msgr. Larry Walsh Division.
The Maroons (8-3), who lost 2-1 to Waterloo on Thursday, fell behind 5-0 early in the second half, then cut its deficit to 5-2 on goals by seniors Sean Gouveia and Randy Haley.
But Ladue added an insurance goal to culminate its one-sided victory. Junior Matthew Lombard and senior Chris Naunheim had two goals apiece for the Rams.
“We came out flat,” West coach Rob Thornberry said. “It was definitely a very physical game. We didn’t really test their keeper too much. I felt like we had some dead-ball opportunities that we just didn’t capitalize on. We struggled on putting a decent ball into the box.”
Thornberry said his team might have been fatigued from a busy week that included games against Clayton on Monday, St. Pius on Tuesday, Waterloo on Thursday and Ladue on Friday.
“It’s tough to play four games in five days, but we were hoping to play five in six,” said Thornberry, whose team also had a game last Saturday against Belleville East.
The Maroons edged Timberland by one point for a berth in the semifinals.