Fourteen games involving 12 metro-east teams in three classes are on tap this week as the girls soccer season enters its final chapter.
There will be a Class 1A sectional, two regional tournaments in Class 2A and two more regionals in Class 3A.
Here is a rundown of the competition:
Class 1A Althoff Sectional
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Four teams remain in Class 1A and the field will be reduced to one when the sectional concludes. The games will be held on the artificial surface at McKendree University in Lebanon, rather than on the grass at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville.
Columbia (14-5-2) will face Mater Dei (11-9-2) in the semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday. The Eagles won the Columbia Regional with wins over Wesclin and Freeburg, while Mater Dei won the Central Regional by taking down Olney and Central.
Columbia and Mater Dei did not meet in the regular season.
“It will be us and the Catholic schools,” Eagles coach Jamey Bridges said. “They’re all pretty familiar with each other. I guess we’re the outsider in the sense that we haven’t played any of them. That’s an advantage, slash, disadvantage. They haven’t seen us except for maybe some scouting, and vice-versa.”
The Eagles boast plenty of scoring from junior Blair Wittenbrink (15 goals, five assists), freshman Chloe Graff (nine goals, two assists) and junior Madelyne “Mo” Juenger (seven goals, 10 assists). Graff has six goals in her last three games.
“She’s physical, she’s strong, she’s quick,” Bridges said of Graff. “What’s happening with her is she’s gaining confidence. That’s what you want to see happen. It’s one thing to think you can do something and it’s another thing to know you can do something. When those things combine, you become dangerous.”
Mater Dei, which began the season 0-4, is led by seniors Melanie Mensing (nine goals, one assist), Macey Endres (eight goals, four assists) and Heather Schulte (seven goals, four assists).
“It looks like their back four is pretty solid and they have a couple of girls in the midfield who are getting some recognition and some goals,” Bridges said. “We’ve got to go in with our game plan and see what happens.”
In the other semifinal, Marquette (11-9-3) will play Gibault (9-10) at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. Marquette blanked Gibault 5-0 in the regular season.
The Hawks, however, are confident after upsetting Althoff 3-2 in the championship game of the Anna-Jonesboro Regional on Saturday in Carbondale.
“That was a game I didn’t get to play in,” said Hawks senior Carley Olson, who was nursing a quadriceps injury at the time. “It was really frustrating just to sit on the bench and watch. We’re definitely out for revenge. They’re going to think it’s easy because they beat us 5-0 earlier in the season, but they don’t know what’s coming for them.”
Gibault, under first-year coach Hanna Schuermann, is led by senior Abby Hasenstab (10 goals, nine assists) and Olson (nine goals, two assists). Olson had all three goals, including the tie-breaking penalty kick late in the second half, against Althoff.
Senior Maddie O’Neill (seven goals, four assists) and sophomore Abby Phelps (five goals, nine assists) also aid Gibault’s attack.
Schuermann expects Gibault to make a much better showing in the rematch with Marquette.
“It was their Senior Night, so they had a lot (of motivation) going into that game,” Schuermann said. “Carley was on the bench and we had a couple of other players I didn’t want to play in that game. We went up there expecting to make some changes on the field. We had to do what we had to do to keep our players healthy.”
The semifinal winners will meet in the title game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
Class 2A Triad Regional
The host Knights (13-4-3), seeded first in the subsectional, will play sixth-seeded Mascoutah (9-12-2) in the first semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by third-seeded Carbondale (12-6-1) facing fifth-seeded Highland (9-9-2) at 6:30. The winners will meet for the title at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Triad shared the Mississippi Valley Conference championship with Waterloo and has succeeded despite season-ending knee injuries to senior midfielder Allison Wendt and, more recently, sophomore defender Kalie Gibbs. The Knights have withstood other injuries, too.
“Losing Allison Wendt may have put a question in the back of some people’s minds, but these kids have responded well,” Triad coach Matt Bettlach said. “We’re playing really well right now and I think we have a chance to go far. They’re playing for (Wendt), which is great to see.”
The Knights have talented front-runners in junior Meaghan Smith (15 goals, 10 assists) and freshman Kate Rogers (15 goals, three assists). Sophomore Jody Ellis and freshman Molly Suess, both midfielders, have chipped in with seven goals apiece. Defensively, junior Morgan Bohnenstiehl has been a rock in front of senior keeper Skye Clark.
If the Knights win the regional, they will stay at home for the sectional.
Class 2A Marion Regional
Waterloo (15-3-3) is seeded second in the subsectional and is the favorite to advance from Marion, where the field also consists of three deep-south teams: eighth-seeded Herrin, fourth-seeded Marion and seventh-seeded Mount Vernon.
The Bulldogs will play Herrin in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday, followed by Marion and Mount Vernon at 7. The winners will play for the championship at 6 p.m. Friday.
Waterloo is on a five-game unbeaten streak after earlier enjoying a 12-game stretch without a loss. Sophomore Sydney Luedeman (20 goals, nine assists) and senior mainstay Erika Lloyd (15 goals, eight assists) have been sensational.
The Bulldogs are seeking their first regional title since 2009. They have lost to Triad in the championship game the last four years. The two previous years, they fell to Althoff.
“We’ve been preparing for this postseason,” Waterloo coach Chad Holden said. “We got a share of the conference (title), so that was nice. It’s been a couple of years since we won a regional, so we would like to get that going. We know there’s some great teams out there, but that’s what postseason is all about. Enjoy the moment and see what you can do.”
Senior Sydney Ratz, junior Heather Elliott and sophomores Dani Mauer and Sierra Berg lead a defense that has allowed just 11 goals. Sophomore Bailey Bosler is the goalie.
“It’s a long way to go,” Holden said of playing in Marion. “But I do like the aspect that they split up the better teams. We’ve had to play Triad or Althoff for like the last 12 years, right away. We can’t overlook anybody at this time of year.”
Class 3A Collinsville Regional
The host Kahoks, who finished fourth in the Class 3A state tournament last year, begin their drive for a return to state at 5 p.m. Wednesday against O’Fallon.
Collinsville (16-1-2) is seeded first in the subsectional; O’Fallon (5-10-4) is seeded seventh and seeking its first win since April 19. The visiting Kahoks won the first meeting against O’Fallon 5-2 in a Southwestern Conference game.
In the other semifinal, fourth-seeded Belleville East (15-6) will play fifth-seeded Alton (11-5-3) at 7 p.m. The semifinal winners meet for the title at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Collinsville’s only loss this season came 2-1 to Visitation on April 2.
“We have the talent,” Kahoks coach Clay Smith. “But coming into the season, if you would have told me that we would only have one loss heading into the postseason, I wouldn’t have believed you, with the strength of our schedule. We’ve played some pretty good soccer and we’re healthy. The girls have a great attitude.”
Juniors Emily Holten (16 goals, 13 assists), Tayler Devine (11 goals, five assists), Alyannah O’Leary (10 goals, three assists) and Andrea Frerker (six goals, seven assists) lead the Kahoks’ offense, which leads the SWC with 59 goals. Seniors Chayse Richardson and Caydren Jones and junior Dayle McEwen lead a stubborn defense that has allowed just 17 goals.
Senior Julie Scheiter and junior Morgan Lerch both have starred in goal.
East, on a six-game winning streak, defeated Alton 1-0 on April 11 in Belleville. Sophomore Grace Brauer has 26 goals to lead the Lancers.
Class 3A Granite City Regional
Edwardsville (17-2-1) is seeded second in the subsectional and will play eighth-seeded Quincy at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, followed by third-seeded Belleville West (10-8-2) facing sixth-seeded Granite City (8-6-4). The championship game is at 6 p.m. Friday.
Edwardsville’s only losses are to Triad and Cor Jesu. Junior Abigail Crabtree (15 goals, eight assists) is one of the area’s top offensive players.
West is coming off a strong 2-1 victory over Alton in its regular-season finale Thursday. The Maroons, who defeated Granite City 3-0 on April 12 in Belleville, have received 13 goals from sophomore Taylor Mathenia and 10 assists from sophomore Addison Hanusek.
Granite City is led by junior Grace Niedhardt’s 10 goals and five assists.
The winners of the Collinsville and Granite City regionals will meet one another in the Normal Sectional semifinals. That game will be held at a metro-east location to be determined.