Photo by Bill Roseberry
The Alton Redbirds celebrate C.J. Nasello’s first of two goals in a regular season win over Granite City at Gordon Moore Park earlier in the year. EA-WR, Roxana and CM entered postseason play this week, while Alton and Marquette delve into the playoffs next week.
It’s a date in Edwardsville for Alton and a homecoming of sorts for Marquette Catholic in upcoming IHSA boys’ soccer regionals.
The Redbirds are seeded third in the four-team Class 3A Edwardsville Regional that starts Wednesday, Oct. 22. Quincy, Granite City and the host Tigers are also cast in it.
Meanwhile, the Explorers play host to a Class 2A regional at Moore Park. It begins Friday when Civic Memorial heads to Highland. Then top-rated Triad, second-seeded Jersey and the CM-Highland survivor will join the Explorers in the semifinals.
The 2A classification is a different one for Marquette. The Explorers have previously been cast in Class 1A, most notably in 2012, when they claimed a state championship.
Normal Community High will serve as the site for a Class 3A sectional, though the Edwardsville and Collinsville Regional winners will clash at a Southwestern Illinois site in a semifinal match. Belleville West is seeded first at Collinsville, followed by the host Kahoks.
The 2A Marquette Regional champion travels to the Chatham Glenwood Sectional and tangles with the Rochester Regional winner in the first semifinal. Jacksonville is ranked first and Quincy Notre Dame second at Rochester. Regional champs from Waterloo and Carbondale also go to Chatham Glenwood.
Class 1A competition is already under way. Rivals East Alton-Wood River and Roxana were scheduled to meet Wednesday night in the Metro East Lutheran Regional. The winner advances to the championship bout at 7 p.m. Saturday against either Greenville or the host Knights.
Metro East Lutheran also welcomes a 1A sectional, featuring regional winners from Breese Central, Metropolis Massac County, Columbia and MELHS. That super-sectional is slated for Oct. 28 at Collinsville. The Illinois 1A finals run Oct. 31-Nov. 1 at the Corn Crib in Normal.
Alton, owning a 10-5-2 record going into the final week of the regular season, has held its own against the other three teams in the Edwardsville Regional.
The Redbirds are a composite 1-1-2 versus Edwardsville, Quincy and Granite City. They tied the Tigers 2-2 in Alton and lost to them 2-1 in double overtime at EHS. The Birds have a 2-0 home victory over Granite City and settled for a scoreless double overtime tie with Quincy at Moore Park.
They face the second-seeded Blue Devils in a 7 p.m. game Oct. 22. Edwardsville is the No. 1 seed and opens with Granite City.
“We’ve been pretty competitive with everybody in the regional,” Alton coach Jay Robertson said. “Our focus is on Quincy. What we’d like to do is get an early goal against them and go from there. The first time we played them, a lot of the battle was at midfield.”
Goalie Shane Bollini and fullback Brad Leonard are key to the reliable AHS defense. C.J. Nasello and Carl Stradal, Alex Piazza and Eric Ferenbach, among others, have made vital contributions.
Nasello scored both goals in the win over Granite City and Stradal tallied the lone goal in the double OT loss at Edwardsville.
The Tigers, the defending 3A state kingpins, are closing in on another Southwestern Conference championship. Going into this week, Edwardsville’s only two losses were to Batavia and Normal.
Marquette is ranked third behind favored Triad and Jersey in the regional at Moore, but playing at home should boost the Explorers. They haven’t met Triad or Jersey this season.
“I think it will be an advantage for us to play at home,” Marquette coach Jeremy Sanfilippo said. “I feel really good about our chances and we have some motivation, being the No. 3 seed.”
The Explorers carried a 9-8-1 record into this week. They were scheduled to play the 2-17 Eagles on Tuesday in Bethalto. The Eagles open postseason play at Highland, a team that has beaten them twice: 3-0 and 4-0.
“We are playing our best soccer right now and I feel that we have as good of a chance as anybody to go far,” Sanfilippo said of postseason competition.
Matt Buchheit and Zach Weinman are stirring the offense. Buchheit has scored 14 goals and supplied 11 assists. Weinman has 11 goals and 12 assists. Goalie Brandon Sanfilippo and midfielder Adam Johnes also have served as steady influences, the coach said.