WOOD RIVER – Jordan Schmidgall and Luke Sims were a dynamic duo for the East Alton-Wood River Oilers on Saturday against the Roxana Shells at Soccer Park.
The EA-WR seniors helped their team get one step closer to its fourth straight winning season. Schmidgall had two goals and an assist and Sims had one goal and two assists to lead the Oilers to a 3-0 win over the Shells in a match between crosstown rivals.
“It’s great,” Schmidgall said. “We connect really well and we haven’t played much side by side this season because one of us play forward and the other plays back. We both got to play up top today, so we got to connect well together. It’s great because we both come from club soccer like growing up. We know how each other plays.”
Schmidgall and Sims helped the Oilers improve to 10-7 with three regular season games to go. EA-WR’s next game will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday against Civic Memorial. The Oilers need another victory to clinch a winning season.
“The whole team played great today, so it was a good win for us,” Sims said. “We got a lot of JV players who got a little playing time. It’s fun playing our rival team and getting a win out of it.”
Junior D.J. Redden got the shutout in goal for the Oilers.
Roxana dropped to 1-15. The Shells have lost 14 straight matches since their only win against Staunton on Aug. 25. Their next game will be at 4:30 p.m. Monday against Vandalia in a South Central Conference game.
The Shells celebrated senior day on Saturday. Kyrell Anderson, Jacob Carpenter, Drew Ratliff and Brendan Zeller make up the senior class.
Roxana sophomore goalkeeper Dawson Klunk finished with 14 saves.
“Our goalie kept us in,” Roxana coach James Futrell said. “If it weren’t for him, it probably would have been 10-0. We can’t praise Dawson enough. Dawson is certainly getting better every game.”
EA-WR snapped a four-match losing streak with Saturday’s win over Roxana.
“When you have two of your three best players out for half a season, you’re going to struggle a little bit,” EA-WR coach Mike Lawson said. “We still have one of them out and we’re getting healthy, but we’ll have a good run. Everyone should be good to go going into regionals.”
Senior Zac Lafferty, who is the team’s leading scorer with 13 goals, is currently out with an ankle injury. Sims was out for five games with an injury earlier in the season.
After getting off to a 1-2 start, EA-WR won eight of its next nine games. The Oilers had a pair of four-game winning streaks.
“We preach them how to play soccer,” Lawson said. “When you don’t have the select players sometimes, you can still play good soccer, but it’s not as quick as it needs to be. We were at 9-3 at one point, so we just hit a skid. We had some players banged up and we played some teams which had some good bounces against us.”
On Saturday, the Oilers led 2-0 at halftime. With 21 minutes, 31 seconds left in the first half, Sims gave EA-WR a 1-0 lead after received a pass from Schmidgall and scored a goal. Exactly 14 minutes later, Schmidgall received a corner kick pass from Sims and scored his first goal of the game.
With 26:13 left in the second half, Schmidgall received a pass from Sims and scored his second goal.
Schmidgall has nine goals and seven assists and Sims has four goals and five assists.
“That’s typical of them,” Lawson said. “They’re select born players and were raised in the select system. They know how to play ball right and that’s every game for us basically. That’s whom we rely on for everything.”
Schmidgall and Sims have been valuable players for the Oilers since they joined the program when they were freshmen. During their high school career, EA-WR has won 55 matches and captured its first and only regional title in 2014.
“We’re getting teamwork out of everyone,” Sims said. “We’re getting a lot of kids in who are good athletes and we’re getting them to get better in soccer and teaching them small things and moving the ball around and playing off people. Everyone has been learning pretty quick and it’s been going so good for us.”
Schmidgall and Sims plan to play college soccer next year. Schmidgall was recently accepted to SIUE, so he plans to join the school’s team as a walk-on. Sims got offers from Blackburn College and Southwestern Illinois College.
Sims said playing all four years for the EA-WR program has been special for him.
“I’m going to miss it,” Sims said. “It’s fun playing for Wood River. I wouldn’t change it for anything, coming from a small school and getting all of these wins. Our senior class got the most wins out of any senior class, so that’s pretty cool.”