Photo by Diane Cox
The East Alton-Wood River Oilers pose with the 2014 Class 1A Metro East Lutheran Regional championship plaque. It marked the first regional crown in EA-WR boys’ soccer history.
The East Alton-Wood River Oiler soccer team has gone from barely having enough players to field a team in 2009 to redefining the program.
The Oilers broke every record in the books in 2013 and trumped that by bringing home the first regional title in school history in 2014 when they beat Greenville 1-0 in the Class 1A Metro East Lutheran Regional finals.
EA-WR ended its season at 12-8. The season concluded with a 4-3 loss to Trenton Wesclin on penalty kicks in the Metro East Lutheran Sectional semifinals on Oct. 21. The Oilers showed great perseverance but ultimately came up short after playing 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes in a scoreless stalemate, only to lose on PKs.
“Our goal is always just play good soccer,” EA-WR head coach Mike Lawson said. “Sometimes you get lucky and are successful throughout the whole season. The boys worked hard and earned their successful season.”
In 2013, the Oilers broke the previous school records set in 1992 with 15 shutouts — they had eight in ‘92 — the win/loss record with a 17-4-1 mark, and only had six goals scored against them, whereas the ‘92 team allowed 30 goals.
Unfortunately, EA-WR lost in the first round of the ‘13 regional playoffs. It came in the form of a 1-0 loss to Althoff after a penalty kick was awarded to the Crusaders in the final minutes of the game, leaving the Oilers no time to recover.
The 2014 Oilers picked up where they left off, surprising their own coach early in the season when they took second place at the Carlinville Kick-Off Tournament, bettering their position from third place in 2013.
“I knew we had the talent, but getting multiple new starters to come together can be a challenge,” Lawson said on Sept. 4. “Our only surprise so far is how quickly the team has jelled on the field.”
EA-WR attributes its success to working together to build skills in the offseason and develop a strong team bond.
“Playing year-round soccer really helped our team,” senior defenseman Nic Daily said. “The training that most of the team put in really helped turn the program around. I’m going to miss playing with all my teammates ... brothers on the field. I will also miss the fun environment that coach Lawson and coach Daniels and our teammates were able to have as a team on and off the field.”
EA-WR Athletic Director Adam Miller even chimed in on the Oilers’ historic season.
“I think we’ve surprised some teams,” Miller said. “They play so well together and have changed and grown. This win is a big reward for them and our school. It’s amazing what a win like this can do for a community and school morale.”
The 2014 soccer season may have just ended for the Oilers, but that hasn’t kept them from thinking ahead to the future. The seniors who left their mark look to pass the reins on to the next group of team leaders.
“Lawson and Daniels taught us how to move on and off the ball correctly; they’ve brought up some talented players,” senior Devon Gilreath said. “I think players like Nick and David Barrett, Cameron Foust, Josh Turner, and Jordan Schmidgall will make good leaders for the team.”
As Lawson brings up his Oilers, he’s always looking ahead toward the next steps in the right direction for the program.
“Falling off is just to be expected every year for pretty much every high school team,” Lawson said. “You do get more experience for the younger players, but they have to replace your graduating starters. Any time a season ends, you start planning your training for the next year. There’ll be lots of opportunities for boys to take on a leadership role. We have a few right now that take the time and give the effort to help out.”
The Oilers end their season with junior Nick Barrett having seven shutouts with a 1.00 goals-against average. Junior David Barrett led the team with 16 goals and six assists, while Gilreath had 14 goals and eight assists. Senior Brennan Augustyn earned seven goals with seven assists, senior Skylar Southard scored five goals with three assists and junior Josh Turner rounded out the offense with four goals and seven assists.