BETHALTO – Cassie Hall figured the Civic Memorial High soccer team had to be in top form Tuesday at the Bethalto Sports Complex.
“We knew it was a make it or break it game,” the talented freshman said.
The Eagles made plenty of smooth moves to defeat Roxana, 5-0, in a semifinal game of the Class 1A CM Regional. The 10-7-1 Eagles will play 12-5-3 Marquette Catholic at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the championship match. The Explorers walloped East Alton-Wood River, 8-0 in the first regional semifinal. Marquette has snared six consecutive regional titles.
“As well as we played tonight,” CM coach Eric Zyung said Tuesday, “we’re going to play even better Friday.”
Thanks to three goals in the first 20 minutes, the Eagles got the jump on rival Roxana, which finished 12-7. CM led 4-0 at halftime before the Shells regrouped.
“We played much better in the second game,” Roxana coach Lori Yates said. “But they got some momentum going early in the first half. CM has speed everywhere. They are a quick team.”
Hall helped to get the Eagles going. She assisted on Katlynn St. Peters goal in the seventh minute, then scored in the 16th and 20th minutes. Freshman Morgan Wilson assisted on Hall’s first goal. Hall’s second goal, her 23rd of the season, kept the Eagles pointed in the right direction.
“It was one of my better games. I had a lot more energy,” Hall said. “And I think it was one of our team’s best games. We played well and we talked to each other a lot. We really wanted to win this one because it could have been our last game.”
Teammate Andra Meyers fired in a 20-yarder during the 38th minute to make it 4-0 and Kaity Kappler punched in a goal at the 60th minute to complete the scoring.
“We set the tone with our early score,” Zyung said. “St. Peters’ goal gave us confidence and we started attacking. It kind of snowballed.”
CM made the most of nine shots, or seven more than Roxana. The Eagles held a 5-1 advantage in corner kicks and goalie Samantha Mann made two saves to log a shutout.
“I thought that overall it was one of our better games because we came out and out-hustled them,” Zyung said. “Energy-wise, it was our best game of the season.”
He said CM’s defense rose to the occasion in stifling a potentially explosive Roxana offense. Wilson, a freshman, proved instrumental in keeping Shells’ high-scoring freshman Emma Lucas from getting loose. Lucas finished the season with 23 goals and eight assists for 54 points, making her one of top scorers in the St. Louis region.
“We knew that Emma is one of their biggest threats and I thought we contained her,” Zyung said.
Yates was delighted with the Shells’ season that included a six-game winning streak during a two-week stretch late in the campaign.
“It was a great year for our team and I couldn’t be prouder of our players,” she said. "We had a couple of players (Katie Herndon and Brynn Huddleston) out with injuries, so we didn’t have a lot of depth.”
Yates noted, “But we never stopped playing hard and we played much better in the second half tonight. We have to be proud of ourselves for doing that.”
Roxana’s future looks bright, even though midfielder Claire Bollinger and goalie Samantha Hurst will graduate. Defenders Taylor Stamper and Miranda Cunningham are also seniors.
Zyung now has to prepare the Eagles for the Explorers. They didn’t meet during the regular season. Friday's winner advances to next week's Columbia Sectional.
“We’re excited to be at home and we know that we will have to play well,” he said. “We have nothing to lose.”
CLASS 1A CM REGIONAL
CM 5, ROXANA 0
Roxana 0 0 – 0
CM 4 1 – 5
CM – St. Peters (Hall), 7th minute
CM – Hall (Wilson), 16th minutes
CM – Hall (unassisted), 20th minute
CM – Myers (unassisted), 38th minute
CM – Kappler (unassisted), 60th minute
Shots: CM 9, Roxana 2
Corner kicks: CM 5, Roxana 1
Saves: Hurst (Roxana) 4, Mann (CM) 2
Records: CM is 10-7-1. Roxana is 12-7.