ALTON — The No. 6 seed Marquette Catholic Explorers advance to the next round of the Class 2A Columbia Regional after beating No. 9 Mascoutah 2-0 on Friday at Gordon Moore Park in the play-in game.
Senior and leading scorer Zach Weinman scored both goals, giving him a total of 18 on the season. Both tallies came in the second half.
With the win the Explorers improved to 12-6-2. The Indians wrapped up their season at 7-13-1.
Weinman's first goal came in the 48th minute of the game. Midfielder Chris Hartrich dribbled the ball across midfield and shot a quick pass to a darting Weinman, who broke past the defense, scoring on a shot to the low right corner of the net.
"That first goal, I got on a nice pass from Chris and I was just able to finish it," Weinman said.
Hartrich added, "I just saw Zach take off on the counter attack and I just tried to put him through, and he got on the end of it and was lucky enough to put it in the back of the goal."
The goal came after a first half in which the Explorers had several chances but were unable to convert. Weinman in particular had some of the better looks, the first at the 31st minute on a shot from the penalty area that sailed high, and another four minutes later on a nice lob over a Mascoutah defenseman that was caught by Mascoutah goalie Austin Heriford.
Weinman produced two more chances from right in front of the goalkeeper in the final two minutes of the first half, one that went wide of the net and another in the final 5 seconds of the half that sailed high.
"We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, I knew we were going to get one in the second half and we were lucky enough to get a couple," said Hartrich.
The second goal came four minutes after the first. As a result of some nice give-and-go passing out of the corner between Explorer forwards Brendan Nickloy and Noah Fahenstock, Weinman received the ball in front of the goal and put it home.
"The second one, it just ended up on my feet at the PK and I finished it," Weinman said. The Explorers finished the game outshooting Mascoutah 18 to 3.
Explorer coach Jermy Sanfilippo mentioned after the game that although the score wasn't what they had hoped for after the first half, their mentality remained positive going into the second frame.
"I just told the boys to stay focused and go back out there and keep working the ball, keep searching the field, and just keep making the attack," he said. Sanfilippo also indicated that he felt poor field conditions were a factor.
"Since we have played on this field this year, we've had a lot of games like this, where the ball takes a bounce on us. I don't know if it's the dry weather, but conditions of the field is something that we have always had to deal with."
Mascoutah's loss marks the end of their season. Head coach Nick Carr lamented the loss, but maintains a positive outlook for next season.
"We are very young," Carr said. "We graduated 11 seniors last year and this year we have been starting 3 freshmen and anywhere from 5 to 6 sophomores. It was a season where I wasn't quite sure what to expect, but it was a pleasant surprise in the sense that we had a lot of young players that were able to step in and play varsity minutes and it's only going to help us for the future."
The Explorers move on to play Waterloo at 5 p.m. on Wednesday at Columbia High. Waterloo eliminated The Explorers last year in the 2A Columbia Sectional finals, so the Explorers are looking forward to an opportunity to enact some revenge this year.
"Really excited to getting some revenge for last year," Hartrich said. "We are going to come out hard."
Sanfilippo added that he will make no changes for the Waterloo match, but mentally the Explorers will have to be prepared if they want to succeed.
"We just got to go in and know that we have to play a strong team, a team that won state last year and we know that they took it from us, and if we would have got by them, we probably would have won state last year. So it's going to be how we come out to play, we have to be more hungry than them."