JOLIET – After driving the length of Illinois to play the Minooka soccer team for the Joliet West Class 3A Sectional championship, Edwardsville got off the bus ready to go. In fact, the Tigers scored on their first shot, then went on to a 4-0 win.
The first goal was scored by Edwardsville forward Hayden Hessler off of a throw-in from Liam Burke. It came in the fourth minute and that was the first shot for either team.
“It pretty much just landed right at the point where you don’t know whether you should go out or stay in the net,” Minooka senior keeper Alex Singletary said. “Then they put it in.”
“We gave up a fluke goal to start the game. We actually did that in two of the playoff games, as well,” Minooka coach Chris Brolley said. “When you do that, it puts you in a hole a little bit. Then we were stunned for a little bit and then they scored another one.”
The Tigers scored again in the 11th minute when Brent Heinlein scored off an assist by Connor Wright.
“Two goals right like that is tough to take,” Brolley said.
That was all of the scoring in the first half.
Edwardsville scored on a penalty kick in the 65th minute and then again in the 69th minute when Tommy Giacobbe scored.
“I like penalty kicks,” Singletary said. “What made me mad is that I dove the right way and still hit it and it went in the goal.”
Singletary said the Tigers’ offense was as good as the Indians have seen this fall.
“Their offense is good. We have a good defense, but they are just good,” he said. “They had perfect passes and they could trap the ball and play it perfectly. They had great shots. That was probably one of the best, if not the best. Right there with Normal Community.”
Brolley said mental errors on the part of the Indians (13-7-2) didn’t help.
“It’s mental errors. Playoffs often come down to a ball here or a ball there,” he said.
This was the fifth sectional championship for the Tigers in the past six years. They are also attempting to get back to state for the first time since 2010. In the 14 years under coach Mark Heiderscheid Edwardsville has been to state six times.
Despite the loss, Brolley said he was proud of how the Indians fought adversity this season to make it to the sectional final.
“This has been an unbelievable season. I’ll say that,” Brolley said. “For a team that had .500 season expectations, and for a team to come out here and make a determined run like this … It’s a great group of seniors. They have been fun to watch. I’m proud of them as their coach. It’s been one awesome run.”