Photo by Bill Roseberry
Marquette goalie Brandon Sanfilippo prepares to clear a ball on Monday at the District 7 Sports Complex in Edwardsville. Sanfilippo and the Explorers have been bumped up from Class 1A to Class 2A this season by the IHSA.
ALTON — The Marquette Catholic Explorers celebrated a Class 1A state title in boys’ soccer in 2012.
That won’t be happening again in 2014.
With rising enrollment numbers and the multiplier for parochial schools in Illinois, the IHSA has bumped the Explorers up to Class 2A in ‘14. Illinois has a three-class system for boys’ soccer.
According to www.ihsa.org, Marquette has an enrollment of 417, but with the multiplier sits at 688. The minimum number of students to be considered a Class 2A school in boys’ soccer in Illinois is 684. The maximum enrollment is 1,584.
Marquette head coach Jeremy Sanfilippo knows he can’t control what class the Explorers are lumped in, but what he can control is strength of schedule and he’s made it pretty tough so far in ‘14.
On Monday, Marquette faced defending Class 3A state champ Edwardsville and battled to a 3-1 loss. The Explorers raced out to a 1-0 lead against the Tigers before falling behind.
Through Wednesday Marquette was 2-4-1 on the season, but that doesn’t ruffle Sanfilippo. Losses have come at the hands of Class 3A Edwardsville, Class 2A Waterloo, Perryville, Mo., which was 6-1-0 through Wednesday, and Class 1A Althoff. The Explorers tied Class 1A power Gibault 2-2.
“I’m pleased where we’re at and I’m not going to get down on my guys,” he said. “We play a tough schedule because we know we have to play tough schools when it comes time for regionals and sectionals. If I don’t do it I don’t think I’m giving them the opportunity to be prepared for those types of games we can encounter. I think we won a game like (Edwardsville game) in Class 2A.
“It’s the same business as usual (going to 2A). You know you’re going to be challenged a little more. You’re going to play some teams that have a little more depth. I’m going to have to put a little more pressure on my starters to step up their game and play a little more than they have in the past. As long as I can continue to coach here, we’re going to push our starters to work hard because we need those guys out there to be leaders for us.”
With the likes of Triad (1,163 students), Waterloo (870), Jersey (942) and Highland (979) likely ahead in regional action and Chatham Glenwood (1,361) and Springfield (1,395) possibly waiting if the Explorers can advance to a sectional, Sanfilippo knows his team will have to be conditioned because of bigger schools having more depth.
“I have a strong conditioning program and I ran them through it and I think it pays off,” Sanfilippo said. “In our games, we tend to stay fresh, but we did do a little more because, as I said, I want my starters to play a little more. The expectation is to build up their core and their conditioning. When we were planning to play Edwardsville we knew it was going to be a big field and the last time we were here (7-1 loss in 2012) we weren’t very good. I’m very pleased with the outcome.”
Statistically so far, Marquette has been led by sophomore forward Zach Weinman with four goals and two assists and senior forward Matt Buchheit with three goals and one assist. Junior midfielder Jacob File has also been a big contributor with two goals and two assists. Other scoring has been provided by: senior Nate Seiner, juniors Adam Hammand and Collin Dunn, sophomore Jon Stewart and freshman Riley Velloff, each with one goal.
Sanfilippo points to his captains as providing leadership on the team, too.
“(Buchheit) is a captain, (senior defenseman) Caleb McClintock is a captain and (junior) goalie Brandon Sanfilippo are all three captains and they’ve done a great job being mentors to the younger guys on the field,” Sanfilippo said. “They don’t get down and that’s my job to get them motivated so they give that same effort and push those guys.”
And the schedule won’t ease up with Class 3A Granite City, Class 3A Collinsville, Class 1A Columbia and Class 1A East Alton-Wood River waiting in the wings, among others.
The Explorers, who play an independent schedule, would love to play in a conference and Sanfilippo has his wish list on where he’d like to land, especially now with the bump up in class.
“We’d like to get in (the Mississippi Valley Conference) with Jerseyville and Triad,” he said. “If they read this, I’d like them to know, ‘Hey, Marquette is willing to come in there and play with you guys.’”