BETHALTO — The Marquette Catholic Explorers kick started the postseason with a win Tuesday, unfortunately for the East Alton-Wood River Oilers they were the victims.
The Explorers rolled past the Oilers 8-0 in the Class 1A Civic Memorial Regional, outshooting them 33-0 and winning on corners 4-0. EA-WR ended its season at 6-14, while Marquette improved to 12-5-3 and will face the host Eagles at 4:30 p.m. Friday in the regional title tilt. CM bested Roxana 5-0 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
“It's that mentality that it's Marquette and we haven't beaten them since the early 90s. It's kind of like beating a giant,” EA-WR head coach Matt Herndon said. “It will happen one of these times.”
But the Explorers made a statement early on that it wasn't going to happen on Tuesday.
Just 30 seconds into the game Marquette's Adriana Schindler accepted a pass from Lauren Schmickley and tickled the twine to make it 1-0.
Schindler scored again in the 11th minute, this time off a dish from Kate Sanfilippo.
Amanda Murray tacked on a goal in the 29th minute and Danielle Walsh took an assist from Bailey Hartrich and scored in the final 18 seconds of the first half to make it 4-0 at the break.
Altogether the Explorers took 23 first-half shots. Marquette head coach Steve Mitchell thought the girls were pressing to score instead of letting the game come to them.
“They're excited for the playoffs to start, but the biggest thing is we're a hare off every time,” Mitchell said. “We're not shooting in the corner, we're pulling the trigger a little too fast and they're not talking to each other and letting each other know they've got a little more time. It's been the monkey on our back all year. We're not putting away goals and hopefully we're going to change that soon because that's cost us several games.”
While the Explorers may not have been finishing, they were peppering shots on goal in the opening half against the Oilers and senior goalie Chrissy Long seemed up to the task, corralling most everything that flew in her direction.
“She made some good saves and stood her ground and kept it close,” Herndon said. “She's a senior and she stepped up. She stepped up at the beginning of the season and said she'd play goalie because our original goalie went out with an ACL a week before the season started.”
EA-WR put Brittany Grayson in goal for the second half, but unfortunately for the Oilers, Mitchell thought the Explorers finished better the last 40 minutes. They tacked on another four goals, but this time only in 10 shots.
“I was happy the second half,” Mitchell said. “I sent (the starters) back out there. I wasn't going to throw the starters back out there, but I thought, 'We're going to try and change.' The first 10 of the second half we really started doing what we were supposed to, taking better shots and crosses.”
Nicole Grimaud took a pass from Sanfilippo and scored on a header in front of the goal in the 41st minute to make it 5-0.
Sanfilippo joined the scoring brigade with an unassisted goal on a rebound off a corner in the 46th minute to make it 6-0. Rachel Grimaud then scored from Lila Snider in the 69th minute and Taylor Aguirre tallied a goal on a feed from Kelsey Blasingham in the 74th minute.
Mitchell made a conscientious effort to not keep the same rotation of girls on the field for too long at a time. His reasoning was not to allow them to slip into complacency.
“I try to sub them in and out to where they're not getting into that mind frame of, 'this is going to be the way it's going to be from here on out,'” Mitchell said. “I try to get them in there and get them out. I don't leave them out there very long because it creates bad habits. I try to switch every 10 to 15 minutes because if I keep them out there 20-30 minutes then it will carry right over into the next game.”
Now the Explorers will square off with CM on Friday, a team they haven't seen this season yet so it will create a new challenge for them. Herndon just wonders how long Marquette will remain around to play the Oilers and other local programs with its continued success.
“It's how the state assigns us, I don't know how they get assigned to us every time,” Herndon said. “Locality I understand, but I'm surprised they haven't moved up because of what they've done in the state. Most teams you would think would jump up to 2A with their state recognition. They are a solid team and Steve does an excellent job with them.”