Althoff’s boys soccer team will try to extend its postseason party when it faces Anna-Jonesboro in the championship game of the Class 1A Gibault Sectional at 6 p.m. Friday at Oerter Park in Columbia.
A victory will send the Crusaders (11-10-3) to the Granite City Super-Sectional at 5 p.m. Tuesday against Effingham St. Anthony or Beardstown, who meet at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the title game of the Altamont Sectional. The super-sectional winner will advance to the state tournament Oct. 30-31 at The Corn Crib in Normal.
Althoff, which defeated Mater Dei 1-0 on penalty kicks (5-3) in the semifinals Tuesday, has qualified for state just once in school history, falling 4-0 to Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in the quarterfinals of the Class A tournament in 1999 at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. Illinois adopted a three-class system in 2008.
“If we keep playing together and everybody keeps giving the effort they’re giving, I think good things will happen,” Crusaders coach Joe Burchett said. “That’s really the key, to make sure everybody has that enthusiasm and heart and drive that it takes and continues to play as one. The team that does that will be the team that goes to the tournament.”
Althoff has won four of its last five, all via shutouts. Its defense has been stingy and its top players have been stepping up, particularly senior Justin Robinson (18 goals, eight assists) and junior Stephen Waltrip (eight goals, six assists) in the midfield and sophomore forward Jimmy Monken (17 goals, eight assists).
“It’s the best we’ve played all year, and it couldn’t be at a better time,” Burchett said. “We’re healthy and everything is good right now.”
Anna-Jonesboro (17-5-1) reached the sectional final with a 1-0 victory over red-hot Gibault in the semifinals. Senior Zach Parr scored the game-winner in the second half, his 43rd goal of the season. The Wildcats had been blown out 6-2 by Gibault on Sept. 26.
Althoff lost a top defender when it moved Waltrip to midfield, but Burchett is confident that senior Evan Toennies can anchor the back line and meet the challenges posed by Parr. Senior Stephen Toenjes also has shined in goal with seven shutouts and 115 saves.
“I’ve known about that player, but I haven’t seen him personally,” Burchett said of Parr. “My assistant coach (Jordan Hogan) stayed and watched the (Gibault vs. Anna-Jonesboro) game and we’ve talked about him. Everything I’ve heard indicates he’s a very nice player and he’s someone we certainly have to pay attention to.
“He uses both feet well and from what I’ve heard, he doesn’t have to be inside the box (to score). He’ll shoot from outside the box or inside the box. It would probably be a mistake to give him time and space. We have to figure out whether our four backs are capable of dealing with him as a group or do we need to man-mark him.”
Class 2A Columbia Regional
The host Eagles (21-1-1) won the Class 1A state title last season and face a difficult road in their bid for a repeat, beginning with a match against Marion (16-4-1) in the championship game at 6 p.m. Friday.
The teams did not meet in the regular season, but Columbia coach Jason Mathenia is aware of the success the Wildcats have enjoyed in the last few years.
“We were able to scout them a little bit (Tuesday) night,” Mathenia said, referring to the Wildcats’ 5-1 victory over Triad in the semifinals. “They look organized and they’ve got a couple of dangerous players. No. 5 (junior Conner Riem) and No. 10 (senior Adam Newman) seem to be their go-to guys. Hopefully, our guys are ready to play Friday night and we’re able to neutralize those two and continue to play our game plan.”
Newman does most of the damage. He leads Marion with 40 goals, well ahead of Riem (13 goals). Freshman Tyson Stoecklin has eight goals and sophomore Josh Szidik has six.
Columbia is dangerous all over the field. The Eagles have outscored their opponents 125-11 and their defense has posted 16 shutouts.
Senior Sean Rickey (24 goals, 25 assists) is among the best players in the metro-east, and his deadly accurate flip throw causes nightmares for opponents.
Rickey gets plenty of offensive support from seniors Ryan Gudeman (21 goals, 14 assists), Dalton Verrett (15 goals), Cameron Roth (12 goals, 11 assists), Adam Becker (eight goals, 16 assists) and Alec Broske (seven goals, 11 assists).
“Our defending has been real good all year, without a doubt,” Mathenia said. “And we just have the opportunity right now to have numerous guys scoring. That credit goes to the three in our midfield: Rickey, Gudeman and Becker. If they’re not scoring goals themselves, they’re creating opportunities for everyone else to score goals.”
The Eagles also have the benefit of being at home. If they are able to get past Marion, they could receive two more home games next week in the sectional.
“Hopefully, it plays into our hands,” Mathenia said. “We were very fortunate this year to get awarded a regional and a sectional. We jumped on the opportunity.”
Class 2A Carbondale Regional
The threat of rain prompted Waterloo’s championship game against the host Terriers to 4 p.m. Friday. The game originally was scheduled for Saturday.
The Bulldogs (19-3-1), who defeated Carbondale 4-0 on Aug. 28 in the Carbondale Tournament, blanked Salem 6-0 in the regional semifinals Tuesday.
“We did see them early in the year ... but we realize that was their first game of the year and I am sure they have changed a few things since that time,” Waterloo coach Chad Holden said of the Terriers (8-9). “Carbondale is always a quality team and with it being postseason, everyone is playing as hard as they can knowing that each game could be their last. We expect a hard-fought game and cannot afford to look at past results.”
Waterloo, the Mississippi Valley Conference champion, is led by senior Kane Osterhage (24 goals, 17 assists), junior Ben Huels (22 goals, six assists) and senior Clay Metz (15 goals, five assists). Junior Philip Most has chipped in with eight goals.
A victory will send Waterloo into the Columbia Sectional and a possible rematch against the Eagles, who defeated the Bulldogs 2-1 in the CYC Tournament semifinals Sept. 25.
Class 3A Edwardsville Regional
Southwestern Conference rivals O’Fallon (13-7-1) and the host Tigers (11-6-4) will meet for the championship at 6 p.m. at the Edwardsville Sports Complex.
The teams tied 1-1 on Sept. 3 in Edwardsville.
“We have a very familiar (opponent) in Edwardsville that we typically see in the playoffs every year,” O’Fallon coach Jason Turkington said. “This year is different because instead of the sectional semifinals, it’s the regional final. Edwardsville has been struggling a bit this year more so than usual, but it’s Edwardsville and the history they’ve created is impossible to ignore. Plus the fact that we have to play on their field is another factor we will have to deal with.”
The Panthers have won eight of their last 10 and earned a berth in the regional final by defeating Belleville West 3-0 on Tuesday. Edwardsville, meanwhile, blanked Belleville East 3-0 for its first win since Sept. 26.
“We feel good about our team and how we are playing,” Turkington said. “We just have to continue to play our game and play our best to beat them on their home field.”
Edwardsville, which was 8-0-3 on Sept. 13, has fought injuries throughout the season and doesn’t have its usual dominant player on offense, but the Tigers typically find a way to get it done in the postseason.
“You just never know,” Edwardsville coach Mark Heiderscheid said. “This could be one that goes to the last kick or it could be a situation where one team just happens to finish on a given day and it ends up being 2-0 or 3-0. Either team has the capability of doing that.”
Senior Jake Koenig is O’Fallon’s main offensive weapon with 17 goals and 11 assists. Senior Max Kieffer has seven goals and three assists for the Tigers.
“We’ve got a number of young players, and that takes its toll,” Heiderscheid said. “You can do well early on, but as the season progresses ... physically and emotionally, it gets kind of hard for those players. But we have to utilize our younger players because they’re some of our better players.”
Class 3A Quincy Regional
Collinsville has designs on a berth in the state tournament, but getting out of the regional won’t be an easy chore when the Kahoks (18-4-1) play the host Blue Devils (14-3-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Flinn Stadium.
“It’s a tough draw,” Kahoks coach Clay Smith said. “Any draw this time of year is tough, but having to travel to Quincy and play on their home field makes it even harder. They’re a very good team, they’re very well-coached and they’re very organized. They have some big, strong, fast players. We’re going to have our hands full.”
Smith is particularly wary of senior forward Riley Roth (17 goals) and junior midfielder J.D. Sohn (11 assists). Senior Bradyn Nokes has 11 goals and is lethal on restarts, while senior Chris Clay has 13 assists and junior Drew Chisholm has nine goals.
The Kahoks, who won the SWC regular-season championship and reached the title game with a 4-0 win over Granite City, have perhaps the best forward combination in the metro-east with seniors Luis De Anda (17 goals, eight assists and Eric Tejada (16 goals, four assists).
“(Quincy) has definitely played some good teams,” Smith said. “Their back four - and sometimes they play five back there - can do some good things, but I don’t know if they’ve seen anyone as fast as (De Anda and Tejada), and you can throw Logan Whitehead into the mix, a freshman we brought up at midseason who has done some good things, too.”
If Collinsville wins, it will have homefield advantage next week in the sectional.