GRANITE CITY – Sam Ortiz made sure the Granite City Warriors would not get shut out again on Thursday when they played the Edwardsville Tigers in their Southwestern Conference opener at Gene Baker Field.
The Granite City senior forward scored with 7 minutes, 31 seconds left in the second half for the team’s first goal of the season. He also helped the Warriors finish in a 1-1 tie with Edwardsville after 100 minutes of soccer.
Granite City and Edwardsville played 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods.
“It means a lot because we were underdogs from the start,” Ortiz said. “With the crowd here supporting us from the start, we had a lot of momentum and a lot of hype coming into this game. It’s the first home game and we’ll take a tie.”
The Warriors are now 0-1-1. They began their season on Tuesday with a 1-0 loss to Columbia on the road.
Granite City coach Kenny Jackson said he was pleased with his team’s effort against an Edwardsville program that has won regional championships in each of the last four years.
“To just to be consistently making regional runs, sectional runs and super-sectional runs, they’ve got a great program,” Jackson said. “So it’s a great result for us tonight.”
Edwardsville is now 1-0-1 with Thursday’s tie. The Tigers began their season on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Chaminade.
“Granite City is always going to play extra special against us because of the long standing rivalry,” Edwardsville coach Mark Heiderscheid said. “Kenny and (assistant coach) Barry (Grote) do a good job of keeping their players organized. I thought Granite City played with a lot of zest and really competed.”
Edwardsville will be playing in the Alton Round Robin Tournament this weekend. The Tigers play Dunlap on Friday and Triad and Alton on Saturday. Their next conference game will be Tuesday against Belleville East.
The Warriors will travel to Rochester on Saturday. Their next league game will be Tuesday at Alton.
Edwardsville is looking to turn things around in conference play this year. Last fall, Edwardsville finished 2-3-1 in conference play after winning the league title in 2014.
“That was one of those seasons where we had some good things early, like winning the Morton Tournament,” Heiderscheid said. “All of the sudden, I had a kid get a concussion at the wrong time and that’s when things kind of unraveled through some those conference games and that made it tough.”
The Warriors are still looking for their first conference win since 2013. They were 0-5-1 last year and 0-3-3 the year before that.
“Coach Grote said it perfectly (after the game) that you can tie the No. 1 team in the conference and you can also lose to the very last place team,” Jackson said. “Conference games always bring out a lot of fight and a lot of grit and it could turn into nastiness because the kids know everyone so well since they play club ball together. It’s always tough. It’s a dogfight. Unfortunately, the last couple of years, we’ve been in the bottom of the conference standings and maybe there are some results that we can go out there and get this year and change our fortune, but I’m expecting a fight in every single game.”
Senior Michael Glisson gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season with 25 minutes left in the second half. He scored a goal against Chaminade on Tuesday.
“Michael is a guy who is such absolute good worker,” Heiderscheid said. “He’s a guy who is very athletic and very competitive and such a great kid and a strong guy who has a bullet of a shot. It was great to see him get off the mark.”
With his game-tying goal, Ortiz now has five goals in his varsity career. He also ended Granite City’s streak of five consecutive scoreless games dating back from last year.
“Sam is a great player for us,” Jackson said. “He stepped up huge this year in the center midfield with Luke Rainwater. He’s got a good engine, he’s quick on the ball and he’s a tough nosed defender.”
Ortiz, who was one of the Warriors’ top scorers last year with four goals, said he was looking forward to his senior season since practices began on Aug. 10.
“I was very excited to come out,” Ortiz said. “Senior year means everything to me, so I have to get my body right so I can play every game and play with my full 100 percent potential.”