After enjoying a five game winning streak where the Toppers outscored their opponents a collective 18-1, the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team traveled to Gillespie Tuesday afternoon, April 6, in hopes of continuing to build on that streak and also stay perfect in South Central Conference play.
Unfortunately for the Toppers, neither of those goals would be accomplished as a Miner goal early in the second half and another in overtime doomed the visiting team and handed them the 2-1 OT loss.
The tilt started like most other games in terms of tempo as the Toppers were able to control possession and get looks on net, but Miner goalie Cameron Crowe, one of several players coming over to Gillespie via their co-op with Litchfield, was steady throughout the early minutes of the first turning every attempt away and sending it up the field.
Hillsboro would nearly break through at the 10 minute mark of the half as sophomore mid Adison Pollard connected with fellow sophomore Will Christian on a nice lead pass. Christian would create a little space but send his shot just wide.
The Toppers would follow up the near miss with another attack on the ensuing possession as junior mid Ethan Lentz found Ayden Brewer up the right side. Brewer was able to put a shot on, but his shot would sail over and out of play ending the drive.
Lentz would send a moonshot of his own over the bar minutes later as Hillsboro continued to knock.
Halfway through the first, the Toppers would get another great look on net as junior Gavin Matoush was able to break free all alone behind the Miner backline. Matoush got a shot on frame, but Crowe was once again right there to make the save ending the chance.
With their keeper doing a great job of keeping the visitors off the board, Gillespie started to turn the staunch showing between the pipes into a little offense at the other end as a cluster of activity in front of the Hillsboro goal nearly resulted in a Miner tally. Fortunately, junior Devin Speiser corralled the loose ball and nailed it out of the zone to keep the Miners off the board.
Gillespie would follow up the near miss with another strike on their next possession but, once again, the attack would be stymied as senior keeper Shaw Riggs made a terrific save of his own and the score would stay 0-0 at the break.
When play resumed in the second, tempers and physicality ramped up and the Toppers would turn that juice into a great chance just 30 seconds into the frame. Brewer took the rock up the right side and put a shot on before junior Kennon Beecher floated one of his own on from deep, but as before, Crowe was steady and kept Hillsboro off the board.
At the seven minute mark of the second, the Miners would break through as junior Jerri Yakana used his speed to create some distance and beat the Hillsboro backline, as well as Riggs, to the low left side making it 1-0.
Lentz would nearly knot the score at 1-1 just minutes later but Hillsboro would have to continue to play from behind until, with 12 minutes left in regulation, Christian, fresh off the bench after a short breather took matters into his own hands and pasted a ball past Crowe to tie things back up.
From there it was fast and furious for both sides but neither could capitalize on much of anything and the two squads would head into overtime.
As per conference rules, overtime would consist of two 10 minute periods played to completion with penalty kicks at the end to decide if need be.
The first 10 minute session was much of the same, with each side exchanging looks and chances but having nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.
With just 1:30 left in the first OT frame, that would change however as Gillespie would gain possession on a Topper miscue and make them pay with a well placed shot by Drake Gasperson to go up 2-1.
Lentz would nearly tie it back up just 30 seconds later but the first overtime would end and the second would be fraught with Hillsboro chances but no scores and the Toppers would fall 2-1.
The loss drops the Toppers to 8-3-1 on the season but a disappointing 4-1 in SCC play. Disappointing indeed considering that conference foe Carlinville stayed a perfect 5-0, making Friday’s match-up between the Toppers and the Cavaliers all the more important.
A Hillsboro win on Friday would allow them a share of the SCC crown but a loss would result in an outright title for Carlinville. Its shaping up to be a spectacle on Friday and action begins at 5 p.m. at the Hillsboro Sports Complex.
April 6 at Gillespie
Hillsboro 0 1 0 0 1
Gillespie 0 1 1 0 2
Scoring: Gillespie - Jerri Yakana 1, Drake Gasperson 1; Hillsboro - Will Christian 1. Goalkeepers: Gillespie - Cameron Crowe; Hillsboro - Shaw Riggs.
Record: Hillsboro (8-3-1, 4-1); Gillespie (4-2, 4-1).