Sacred Heart-Griffin is always one of the toughest in Class 1A soccer and the Cyclones definitely brought their "A" game to the Carlinville Sectional on Wednesday, Oct. 20 against Hillsboro.
In a hard fought game, SHG held a 1-0 lead over the Toppers at halftime and tacked on three more for a 4-0 sectional semifinal win.
The Cyclones would keep the ball on Hillsboro's side of the field for much of the first half, but goalie Mitchell Lowe and the Hillsboro defense were up to the task.
Playing on the speedy turf at Cavalier Field, SHG had a few breakaway opportunities seven and 10 minutes into the game, but Lowe came out and stopped the Cyclones dead in their tracks.
Hillsboro's best chances came on set pieces, including a free kick with 23 minutes to play that nearly resulted in a Topper scoring chance before an offsides call sent the action the other way.
After several close calls, SHG finally broke through with 19:31 to play when Kyle Ward snuck a shot through traffic that found its way to the back of the net. The Cyclones would nearly get another five minutes later off a corner kick, but Lowe came up with the save to keep it a 1-0 game.
One of Hillsboro's best chances came with six minutes left in the half, when Matt Page sent a header toward the SHG net. The ball bounced high toward the goal, but the Cyclone keeper beat a pair of Toppers to the ball to keep SHG in the lead at the break.
Hopes of getting a quick equalizer weren't meant to be for the Toppers as Parker Boatman put SHG up 2-0 just 85 seconds into the second half. Tom Davis would add a third goal for the Cyclones at with 29:26 to play on a 25-yard wonder strike that clipped the underside of the crossbar and went in to make it 3-0.
Hillsboro would have a few chances to get on the board, with Devin Speiser taking a free kick from 30 that wrapped around the Cyclone wall and trickled out of bounds before the Toppers could get a shot on goal.
The Cyclones would add a fourth goal with nine minutes to play on a picture perfect cross to the far post from Ward to Boatman and held off the Toppers the rest of the way out.
While the loss comes earlier than the Toppers hoped, it takes nothing off the shine of a season that saw them go 14-7-2, with their fourth regional championship and third straight SCC title.
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