The 2019 campaign for the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team started back on Aug. 26 as they traveled to Virden for season opening match-up against the North Mac Panthers, a contest they’d lead 2-1 only to fall 4-2 after three unanswered goals in the second half doomed the orange and black.
After that hiccup, the Toppers had enjoyed a magical month in terms of success, going undefeated at the Carlinville tournament en route to a third place finish, staying perfect in conference play (6-0 as of today), and staying undefeated on their home pitch.
All of that success had allowed Hillsboro to stretch an unbeaten streak to an impressive 13 straight heading into a non-conference showdown with Sangamon County standouts, the Riverton/Tri-City "Hawknadoes", on Saturday morning, Sept. 28, at the Sports Complex.
As the saying goes, all good things typically come to an end and that was the case for the Toppers as a Hawk goal in the first half and then one in the last two minutes of the tilt would doom the host team 2-0.
The Toppers and the Hawks matched up really well on paper as well as on the field as both squads combined a balanced attack on offense with an incredibly staunch defensive backline and this was the case as the offense would click for both teams only to be stopped at the opposite end of the field.
At the 3:30 mark of the first, Hillsboro would find a seam in the Hawk defense and work the ball deep into the Riverton end resulting in a corner kick for the Toppers.
Sophomore forward Ethan Lentz would play a perfect ball across the front of the Hawk net but as would be the case all day, the ball would be corralled by the Riverton backline and sent up the other way.
At the other end, the Toppers would be just as effective at turning away the offensive attack of the visitors as the defensive unit of seniors Jake Holcomb and Tyler Watson and sophomores Devin Speiser and Ayden Brewer would turn away run after run as well.
At the midway point of the first half, the Toppers would have their best chance on net since the early corner as senior midfielder Josh Bauman found fellow senior midfielder Joe Mattson and Mattson was able to rip a hard shot on net. Riverton keeper Matt Martin would be there for the save though and send it up the other way.
Martin’s counterpart junior Shaw Riggs would be just as steady between the pipes for the Toppers though as he would find himself single-handedly keeping the Hawks off the board with 11 minutes to go in the half as Riverton standout, Seth Tavernor, would use his speed to sneak in behind the Hillsboro backline and put a rolling shot on. Riggs would make an absolutely incredible diving save to keep the ball from going in much to the approval of the Topper faithful.
But with two minutes left, not even the entire 11 man attack of the Toppers could keep the Hawks off the board as an end to end run for Riverton would result in a 1-0 lead and things would stay that way until the break.
When play resumed in the second half it would be more of the same as each team would exchange runs, only to be stopped and turned away. The Toppers, however, would nearly find the back of the net early as freshman midfielder Will Christian, using his speed to create some space up the right side, carried in and put a great shot on. Christian’s shot would go just wide though, ending the drive.
Just wide or just over would be the case for every attack down the stretch until, with just over two minutes left in the game, the Hawks would find the back of the net again, putting them up 2-0 and that’s how it would stay as the Toppers would drop to 11-2-2 on the season.
The Toppers are off today before hosting SCC foe, the Pana Panthers, tomorrow Oct. 1, with varsity action beginning at 4:30 p.m.
September 28 at Hillsboro
Riverton 1 1 - 2
Hillsboro 0 0 - 0
Records: Hillsboro (11-2-2, 6-0); Riverton (14-1-1).