After a win and a tie on Saturday in opening round action of the Carlinville Kickoff Classic, the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team returned to Loveless Park Tuesday evening, Sept. 3, to resume pool play, this time against the host Cavaliers.
With crucial points to be had in terms of advancing to a top spot in Pool A, and even then needing a little help in terms of a tiebreaker, the Toppers knew they had work to do against a Cavie team who was much better than their record showed.
Quite simply, the orange and black were in a must win situation if they hoped to even have a whiff at advancing to the championship game on Thursday.
But after 60 minutes of intense soccer, a never say die attitude on the part of the Toppers and two timely goals from senior midfielder Joe Mattson, Hillsboro did what they needed to do, picking up the 2-1 victory and three more points in pool play.
The Toppers, who all season have focused on being patient with the ball and spreading the offense, did just that as they controlled the rock early and looked for quick passing lanes in favor of long, over the top passing. In addition, the ball movement allowed Hillsboro to switch fields on Carlinville very quickly forcing the Cavaliers to play catch up early.
This movement would pay dividends just 2:40 into the first as sophomore forward Ethan Lentz found Mattson just outside the 18 yard box. Mattson would lose the ball on his initial dribble but hard work to recover the handle resulted in a terrific look on frame.
From there, Mattson let his left foot do the work as he let loose with a rocket into the upper 90, giving Hillsboro the early 1-0 lead.
The Toppers would have more chances after the tally, first in terms of a Lentz corner kick that just missed the mark, followed by an arching free kick from freshman Will Christian that the Carlinville keeper was able to corral.
With 14 minutes left in the half, the Cavies would answer though on a bang-bang play that initially appeared to be a shot off of the outside of the net that rolled under and into the goal. It was deemed a goal however and upon review of those involved, it in fact was as the ball rolled just off of the outstretched hands of Hillsboro keeper Shaw Riggs and into the corner of the net.
The Toppers would nearly answer back on their ensuing possession as Bauman took control of the ball at mid-field and put a shot on net. His shot was true, but directly into the waiting hands of the Cavalier keeper who would send it back up the other way.
Hillsboro continued to pepper away at the net with Bauman once again putting a shot on, freshman midfielder Adison Pollard nailing one off of the outside of the net, and Mattson once again creating space and a look on net, but each time the shot would be just over or just wide and the score stayed knotted at 1-1 at the break.
When play resumed in the second, the Toppers were definitely the more aggressive group as they kept the ball in the Cavalier half of the field for much of the opening minutes, but as was the case with the closing minutes of the first half, each time Hillsboro attacked, the Cavaliers were there to stymie the advance.
Finally, with 7:16 left in the contest, the Toppers would strike gold again, this time as senior midfielder Hunter Beecher, using his speed to keep the play alive, found Mattson waiting just inside the 18 yard box.
Beecher would thread the pass past two Carlinville defenders and onto the foot of Mattson, who once again buried his shot giving Hillsboro the 2-1 advantage.
From there, the Toppers went into shutdown mode, tightening up on defense and never allowing the Cavies any more decent looks on net as they held on for the 2-1 win.
The win gave Hillsboro a very much needed three points leaving them with seven total and in a tie with Springfield Lutheran who was idle.
The Toppers followed that win up with another one as they knocked off Athens in a 2-0 shutout. Ethan Lentz would pick up the first goal for Hillsboro, followed by Wes Stockstill's first career goal to give his team some breathing room.
Despite their unbeaten record in four games at Carlinville, the Toppers have to settle for a shot at third place. Springfield Lutheran, who also went 3-0-1 at Carlinville, will play for first by virtue of the second tie breaker, fewest goals allowed. The Crusaders allowed one goal, to Hillsboro, while the Toppers allowed two goals, one to Hillsboro and one to Carlinville.
The third place game will be at 5:45 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, with Hillsboro taking on East Alton-Wood River.
September 3 at Carlinville
Carlinville Kickoff Classic
Hillsboro 1 1 - 2
Carlinville 1 0 - 1
Goals: Hillsboro - Joe Mattson 2; Carlinville - Levi Yudinsky 1.
Record: Carlinville (1-4-1).
September 4 at Carlinville
Carlinville Kickoff Classic
Hillsboro 2, Athens 0
Goals: Hillsboro - Ethan Lentz 1, Wes Stockstill 1.
Record: Hillsboro (4-1-1).
Carlinville Kickoff Classic
August 30-September 5
Pool A: Springfield Lutheran (3-0-1), Hillsboro (3-0-1), Carlinville (1-2-1), Athens (1-3), Metro-East Lutheran (0-3-1).
Pool B: Jersey (4-0), East Alton-Wood River (2-1-1), Lincolnwood (1-1-2), Gillespie (1-2-1), Staunton (0-4).
Friday, August 30
Lincolnwood 1, Staunton 0
Springfield Lutheran 2, Carlinville 0
Saturday, August 31
Lincolnwood 2, Gillespie 2
Hillsboro 1, Metro-East Lutheran 0
Carlinville 1, Athens 0
East Alton-Wood River 3, Staunton 2
Jersey 8, Lincolnwood 0
Hillsboro 1, Springfield Lutheran 1
Metro-East Lutheran 1, Carlinville 1
Gillespie 2, Staunton 1
Springfield Lutheran 1, Athens 0
Jersey 4, East Alton-Wood River 0
Tuesday, September 3
• Athens 2, Metro-East Lutheran 1
• East Alton-Wood River 2, Gillespie 1
• Hillsboro 2, Carlinville 1
• Jersey 3, Staunton 0
Wednesday, September 4
• East Alton-Wood River 0, Lincolnwood 0
• Hillsboro 2, Athens 0
• Springfield Lutheran 1, Metro-East Lutheran 0
• Jersey 9, Gillespie 2
Thursday September 5
4:15 p.m. - 9th Place - Metro-East Lutheran vs. Staunton
5:45 p.m. - 7th Place - Athens vs. Gillespie
4:15 p.m. - 5th Place - Carlinville vs. Lincolnwood
5:45 p.m. - 3rd Place - Hillsboro vs. East Alton-Wood River
7:15 p.m. - 1st Place - Springfield Lutheran vs. Jersey