EDWARDSVILLE -- The Alton Redbirds fought the Edwardsville Tigers to a 0-0 tie on Tuesday night in a Southwestern Conference contest at Edwardsville High School.
After playing 80 minutes of regulation, the two teams played two 10 minute overtimes. Alton defeated Edwardsville 1-0 in the 2015 season.
“It’s a great program and (Edwardsville coach) Mark (Heiderscheid) does a great job with them,” Alton coach Nick Funk said on the significance of a tie. “They came out to win and of course the rivalry is there.”
The contest wasn’t a high shots-on-goal affair, as Alton placed four shots on goal while Edwardsville had three. Alton’s Braden Flanigan and Edwardsville’s Daniel Picchiotti were the goalkeepers.
Funk gave credit to Flanigan as well as Alton’s defense.
“He’s posted quite a few shutouts this year,” he said. “But a lot of credit goes to our back line as well, holding people from a lot of shots. Colin (Lombardi) and Levi (Davis) in the middle really shut stuff down.”
The game was played both sides of the field in the first half, as each team worked the ball into the other team’s side of the field on several occasions. Alton’s Colin Lombardi fired off a shot at the 17-minute mark from approximately 40 yards out that flew a few feet to the west of the goal. Lombardi fired off another shot from approximately 40-yards out at the 22:35 mark that was stopped by Picchiotti. Edwardsville’s John Wasmuth fired off a shot at the 32:35 approximately 20-yards from the goal, but Flanigan caught the ball.
The Redbirds’ offense managed to keep the ball on the Tigers side of the field much of the time in the first 30-minutes of the second half.
“We’ve been a second half team all year long,” Funk said. “I don’t know why, I guess it’s what it takes to wake them up. They come out with a lot of energy and a lot of focus after halftime. I don’t think that Edwardsville was expecting it from us, but they worked their tails off. That’s all you can ask of them.”
Heiderscheid agreed that Alton pressured his team.
“They did an excellent job,” he said. “Their work rate was better than ours, I think. They were winning the second balls, excellently. I thought Alton played extremely well a majority of the second half. In the game of soccer that happens, it goes in phases. For whatever reason, we hit a lull.”
Both team’s worked the ball up and down the field in the two overtimes. Alton might have scored in overtime. Logan Clark’s header from just feet from the goal with 5:49 left to play in the first overtime didn’t make it past Flanigan and Lombardi fired off a shot 15-seconds into the second overtime that flew a few feet to the east of the goal.
Heiderscheid thought that the overtime contest could test his team’s fitness a little.
“That’s not that concerning because in the post-season we’ll get our center back because (Matthew) Busse will be healthy for us,” he said. “And hopefully we’ll get Riley Patterson back again. We’re very, very deep, but we’re missing two starters. What this really tests is some resolve on our part because players became a little too animated on our team.”
Busse didn’t play due to a toe injury and Patterson is out with a back injury. Heiderscheid expects them both back for the postseason.
With the tie, Alton is 11-3-1 overall and 1-1-1 in conference play and Edwardsville is 11-0-4 overall and 3-0-2 in the league.
The Redbirds, who were coming off a CYC tournament championship over the weekend, return to action at 5 p.m. tomorrow against Mater Dei on the road.
The Tigers will tangle with Marquette Catholic at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the District 7 Sports Complex.