EDWARDSVILLE — Tying the Edwardsville Tigers on the turf at the District 7 Sports Complex is nothing to scoff about. The Marquette Catholic Explorers did just that Thursday night.
The Explorers and Tigers raced to a 1-1 tie in wet conditions. Marquette moved to 7-5-2, while EHS remained undefeated with an 11-0-5 mark.
The Explorers haven't won since Sept. 12 when they beat Granite City 4-1 at Gordon Moore Park. They lost four straight before posting consecutive ties with Father McGivney and Edwardsville. Head coach Jeremy Sanfilippo isn't too worried though, he knows his team is playing well.
“We haven’t been getting the results, but we’ve been playing well as a team,” Sanfilippo said. “As you know in soccer, it doesn’t always equate to wins. I told them, ‘This is going to be a tough game. This is their Senior Night.’ I said, ‘You’re going to have to come out and do the work, you’re going to have to do the things in soccer that are smart,’ and we did.”
Marquette was able to score on the Tigers for the first time in seven games. EHS played 559 straight minutes of shutout soccer before surrendering a goal to the Explorers in the 55th minute Thursday.
Edwardsville was celebrating Senior Night and missing three key players in Alec Mills, Riley Patterson and Matthew Busse, so head coach Mark Heiderscheid thought it took the Tigers out of their rhythm.
It was the second straight tie for EHS after playing Alton to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday.
“It's a difficult thing because the kids wanted to make sure the seniors were out there and I think that's just a commendable thing,” Heiderscheid said. “We have 16 of them and it's tough when you reload with the senior group again (in the second half). I asked them and that's what they wanted to do and I think it's hard to get in a flow.
“I think for the kids, it means a lot to them. They’re willing to go ahead and risk a lot of stuff, whether it be a loss, whether it be any type of silly national ranking or anything like that just to say let’s just let these senior play, including our poor third-string goalie (Ian Tegert), who gets whacked.”
Tegert played a total of 22 minutes in goal Thursday, 21 in the first half and one in the second until he cut his head in a collision with a Marquette player. He left the game to go and possibly get stitches. Regular EHS starting goalie Daniel Pichiotti handled the duties in goal the rest of the time.
With steady rain in the first half the Tigers finally broke a scoreless stalemate in the final minute of the opening half. Hanu Freese fed a perfect pass through to a streaking Michael Glisson and the senior finished superbly, beating Explorer goalie Nick Hemann into the left side of the goal.
“The way we worked it through the central space was very good,” Heiderscheid said. “It was from the left side we were looking to connect the dots, get it inside and from there we were able to block the defense and work the ball through. That was one of the better goals we've had all year honestly. That was great.”
Marquette answered in the second half. Noah Fahnestock worked a ball through to Zach Weinman in the 55th minute as the Tigers had a defensive breakdown. Once Weinman had the ball, he juked a defender and dribbled in, drilling a shot into the back of the net.
“I was making a run through and somehow the ball slipped through and I had it at my feet,” Weinman said. “I saw a defender on my right and I tried to cut behind him and then it was just me and the goalie.”
Heiderscheid gave credit to the Explorers for acting swiftly when the defense broke down for Edwardsville.
“We had the ball and unfortunately lost it at an inopportune time,” Heiderscheid said. “As soon as (Fahnestock) had it the ball goes immediately from the point and they did a very good job of knocking it forward. We had a guy go down who probably should have stayed up, but (Weinman) did a great job running right at us.
“I think it was very sound tactically on their part as soon as it was turned over. (Weinman's) a great player so he's able to just drive and knock it in.”
It proved to be the only scoring in the contest, as Marquette outshot Edwardsville just 2-1, while the Tigers owned a 2-1 advantage on corners.
Weinman knows the Explorers have been shuffling through a rough patch in the win department, but he thinks Thursday can be a good stepping stone in the right direction with the postseason on the horizon.
“We were struggling there for a little bit,” Weinman said. “We should have won some games, but we played really well tonight. It’s good to get a tie against a really good team like that.”
Next up for the Tigers is a 12:30 p.m. contest Saturday at St. Mary's in Missouri. Marquette plays host to Metro East Lutheran at 11 a.m. on Saturday inside Gordon Moore Park.