Edwardsville could be headed toward a banner offensive season.
Junior Alec Mills and seniors Michael Glisson, Mohamad Hamad, Bayne Noll and Riley Patterson are major threats for the Tigers and 17th-year coach Mark Heiderscheid. Senior Andrew Joseph and junior Kyle Wright are expected to add to the mix.
Hamad, Noll and Patterson entered the season as the top attacking players, but it’s been Mills (six goals) and Glisson (four goals, one assist) leading the way thus far.
Mills, a forward, scored three goals against Triad on Saturday and two more against Belleville East on Tuesday as the Tigers improved to 4-0-1 overall and 1-0-1 in the Southwestern Conference with a 4-0 win.
“He’s a big player, he reads the game well, he’s very technical and he’s calm under pressure,” Heiderscheid said. “He can put the ball away, and right now, he’s doing the best job at that. Between his size, work rate and calmness under pressure, it bodes well for him.”
Mills, the son of former Granite City star Kirk Mills, already has exceeded his production from last season when he had four goals, and he didn’t even start Edwardsville’s first two games: an impressive 2-1 victory over Chaminade and a 1-1 tie against Granite City.
“He was down the list as far as the food chain, yet he has six goals,” Heiderscheid said of Mills, whose brother, Andrew, will be a freshman at Edwardsville next season. “A lot of our production isn’t coming from the original front-three players (Hamad, Noll, Patterson). You have to like that about a team. That gives you an edge.”
Heiderscheid, in his 26th year in the Tigers’ program, still anticipates significant contributions from Hamad, Noll and Patterson, who have combined for two goals and two assists.
“If all of a sudden, (Mills) doesn’t score for a couple of days, I’ve got other ones who can,” Heiderscheid said. “That eliminates some pressure from him as well.
“(But) we have depth. We can really do it with other personnel. We’ve got multiple players up top who can score goals. So our start has been a lot better than we expected.”
Patterson can handle a midfield or forward position.
“Riley is such a good player,” Heiderscheid said. “He can go anywhere. He’s been able to spray balls here or there.”
Senior Daniel Pichiotti is the Tigers’ goalkeeper and has posted three shutouts. The defense is led by senior center backs Matt Busse and Daniel Hentz and outside backs Zach Timmermann, a junior, and Tyler Tepen, a sophomore. Heiderscheid has plenty of depth on defense, too, with seniors Blake Conway, Sean Swanson and Cam Kelehan.
“Depth right now is great for me and not so great for the kids,” Heiderscheid said, referring to the reduced playing time that may not set well with some of his players.
In the end, however, Heiderscheid believes it will help the Tigers fulfill their goals. They are aiming for a Southwestern Conference title and a berth in the Class 3A state tournament.
“If we can get there, I always know we have a chance to beat teams that are from Chicago and we have a chance to beat teams that are very good from the mid-state,” he said. “At the same time, in soccer you could turn around and lose the first game of the regional.”
Bassett rolling along
Civic Memorial junior Kaleb Bassett leads all metro-east players in goals with 12. Bassett busted out for five goals Tuesday in the Eagles’ 6-1 win over Staunton.
“When he steps on the field he is all business,” Civic Memorial coach Derek Jarman said. “The best part is Kaleb is the ultimate team player and is not a one-man show. He scored three goals in the first five minutes (Tuesday) night, but did not attempt a shot the next 10 to 15 minutes. He instead tried to set his teammates up and get others going.
“He knows that every goal he has this year has been assisted, and he loves playing with this group we have and tries to return the favor.”
The Eagles, who are 6-51-2 in the last three years, have opened the season 5-0. Bassett has scored at least one goal in every game and had two against Roxana, Wesclin and Freeburg.
“He’s a once-in-a-generation type of player for our program in terms of his skill set and technical abilities,” Jarman said. “The first day he was out for practice, I had my head turned talking to another player and I heard loud thuds. (Bassett) was taking shots on our keeper. The best comparison I have is like hearing the ball go off the bat of Albert Pujols. It just sounds different than anyone else and it gets your attention in a hurry.
“Kaleb has drastically improved the overall culture of our program, mainly with his desire to compete and his winning attitude.”
Bassett is the son of Lindsay Kennedy-Eversmeyer, who graduated from Alton High. In 2005, Kennedy-Eversmeyer became the first woman to play in the Major Indoor Soccer League when she suited up for the St. Louis Steamers.
Kennedy-Eversmeyer is now the coach and general manager of Fire & Ice Soccer Club, a semi-professional team that plays in the Women’s Premier Soccer League.
Huels on Watch List
Waterloo senior forward Ben Huels is on a Watch List of players who could be selected to participate in the sixth annual All-American Game at 4 p.m. on Dec. 3 in Raleigh, N.C.
If chosen, Huels will be on a West team that will face the East at Cardinal Gibbons High School. Players from Arizona, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Wisconsin also are on the Watch List for the West team.
Huels helped lead the Bulldogs to the Class 2A state championship last November at Hoffman Estates High School. The West squad will be led by Peoria Notre Dame coach Mike Bare, whose Irish lost to Waterloo 4-3 in the title game.
The Gibault Hawks and Belleville West Maroons will meet for the second time this season at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at West.
The Hawks rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits last Saturday to defeat the Maroons 3-2 in the fifth-place game of the Metro Cup Tournament, also at West.
Gibault is ranked fifth in the News-Democrat’s first poll of the season.