ALTON — The Marquette Catholic Explorers continued their string of playing large soccer programs on Monday at Gordon Moore Park by hosting the Edwardsville Tigers.
Unfortunately, the Explorers came up a little short, falling 1-0 after a second-half goal by the Tigers. With the loss Marquette slipped to 3-3-2 on the season.
It marked the second Southwestern Conference opponent for the Explorers, who lost 5-0 to Collinsville to open the season. Monday's contest started a series of four straight SWC opponents. They play Belleville East Thursday, Belleville West Saturday and Granite City on Sept. 14.
“I thought we played well,” Marquette head coach Jeremy Sanfilippo said of Monday's match with Edwardsville. “Even on the goal it hit the post to go in, so it wasn't like it was a shot that came through. It was a deflection that hit the post, but they kept coming at us and I told the boys they played their butts off and I was really proud of them.”
EHS' goal didn't come until the 58th minute. Bryce Glisson of the Tigers slid a crossing pass in front of the Marquette goal to the awaiting foot of Bayne Noll. Explorers' goalie Brandon Sanfilippo — who made 11 saves in the game — came sliding to make the save, but Noll was able to flick the ball off of the right goal post and into the back of the net.
It proved to be all the offense either team could muster in a game highlighted by solid defense. Edwardsville (4-0-2) was able to be a little more aggressive in the second half and coach Mark Heiderscheid thought that was the difference.
“At the beginning of games it's always tougher because both teams come out with energy,” he said. “You try and put your stamp on it, but there's no question we got into a situation where we were playing too many balls from our back third and just knocking them forward and that let the game kind of degenerate a bit. The second half I thought we did a much better job of having composure in our possessions and that certainly led to more times where Bayne was able to get around the side and the some thing with Mohamad Hamad and then (Max) Kieffer found himself in front of the net on several occasions. We started to keep it more and that was good, because otherwise when Marquette had it they did a good job of countering and that was going to be dangerous.”
Sanfilippo thought sliding standout forward Zach Weinmann around up front opened things up toward the end of the game. Weinmann, who has 10 goals in eight games for the Explorers, was limited on his touches early in the game, but got a few late and his movement allowed his teammates to get involved.
Marquette earned a corner it was unable to convert on in the 62nd minute and a free kick taken by Collin Dunn in the 80th minute was corralled in the arms of EHS goalie Daniel Pichiotti to secure the win for the Tigers.
“I told (Weinmann) to slide outside to get away from double coverage,” Sanfilippo said. “I told him to slide out wide, slide back in the middle and that way we could free him up. I told him, 'They're spying on you and keeping two guys on you every time' I think at the end you could tell they were frustrated because he started sliding back and sliding over and he was creating opportunities, which were also creating opportunities for other guys. He was able to make a nice pass back to guys.”
Early on the Explorers had some chances. In the fourth minute, Chris Hartrich launched a shot that was tipped over the goal by Pichiotti. In the 16th minute, Jacob File fed a through ball to Adam Hammond, but his shot sailed over the goal.
The Tigers almost cracked the stalemate in the 18th minute, but Skylar Bone's goal was waved off when the referee called him offsides. Kyle Wright dished the pass ahead to Bone.
“It was unfortunate we just missed that finishing touch,” Heiderscheid said.
Edwardsville had a couple of free kicks to no avail to enter the half in a scoreless tie.
Marquette garnered the lone corner in the first half, but trailed 4-2 on shots to the Tigers. When the two squads returned from the break, EHS kept the pressure on much better. The Tigers outshot the Explorers 7-2 in the second half and out cornered them 4-1.
Sanfilippo was pleased with the overall performance of his team. He knows they've earned Edwardsville's respect and getting a quality match against the Tigers is a win-win for his program.
“I tip my hat,” he said. “They didn't take us lightly. I don't think they've ever taken us lightly after we beat them a couple of years ago, so we kind of feel it's going to be a good game every time. We made adjustments at the half and I felt he made adjustments. They came out real strong at the beginning of the half, we withstood it and I thought it was back and forth and even after the goal we never stopped.”
Marquette is back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday at Belleville East.