Photo by Bill Roseberry
Marquette junior Zach Weinman brings the ball up field, while Edwardsville’s Kyle Tucker is in pursuit on Monday at Gordon Moore Park during a 1-0 loss to the Tigers. Weinman scored 10 goals through eight games for the Explorers.
The Marquette Catholic Explorers only lost five players from their 2014 squad and are looking to make 2015 a little better.
It was a learning curve for Marquette, which bumped up to 2A from 1A in ‘14. The Explorers took a tough-luck 2-0 loss on penalty kicks to eventual regional champion Jersey in the semifinals of the tournament last year, despite outshooting the Panthers 11-2.
Head coach Jeremy Sanfilippo expects things to go a little differently this season.
“We definitely had the better of the play in that game,” Sanfilippo said, reminiscing about the regional semifinal loss to Jersey. “I don’t feel that Jerseyville was any better than us. It came down to PKs and that could go either way. I definitely feel we’re ready for the challenge again this year and I think we’re even better with (Zach) Weinman. He hit it off the post last year and if he gets that opportunity this year, it’s going to be in the back of the net.”
The junior forward Weinman has been tickling the twine quite frequently this season. Entering Thursday’s game at Belleville East, the Explorers were 3-3-2 through eight games and Weinman had 10 goals and an assist to stir the offense.
Only Chris Hartrich and Tony Vitale have multiple goals besides Weinman and they have two each. Sanfilippo raved over how Weinman has evolved.
He is filling the shoes of graduated leading scorer from ‘14, Matt Buchheit. Buchheit was the leading scorer with 14 goals a year ago.
“He’s been great,” Sanfilippo said of Weinman. “He’s one of the guys I felt like I was going to have to lean on this year after graduating Matt Buchheit last year. I told him, ‘We’re going to have to count on you.’ And he stepped up. We named him a captain after I had a talk with him and he’s definitely stepped his game up and being a leader out at practice. He doesn’t come off the field, he works hard every play and is out there moving around trying to create opportunities.”
Weinman is small in stature but bulked up some in the offseason, which Sanfilippo thinks has helped.
“He worked out over the summer,” he said. “There are several of the players that worked out over the summer and you can tell it helps them playing against these bigger guys.”
The Explorers are missing Adam Johnes. Johnes was out of Monday’s contest with Edwardsville at Gordon Moore Park, where Marquette suffered a tight 1-0 loss. Sanfilippo thought Johnes’ presence would have made a difference.
“I don’t make excuses, but it’s tough when we lose Adam Johnes, who has been there four years for us,” Sanfilippo said. “We’re not as deep as (Edwardsville).”
But there is a reason Sanfilippo schedules a tough lineup every year — it’s preparation for postseason.
Erase a 5-0 loss at Collinsville to open the season and the Explorers have played tight with teams. Entering Thursday they had 1-0 losses to Edwardsville and Gibault, a 1-1 tie with Althoff and a 3-3 tie with Harrisburg besides shutouts of Greenville, Carlyle and Lebanon to notch in the win column.
Marquette traveled to Belleville East Thursday, continuing a four-game stretch with Southwestern Conference teams that started with Edwardsville on Monday. The Explorers battle Belleville West at 10 a.m. Saturday at home and head to Granite City at 6 p.m. Sept. 14.
“We’re playing good teams and we’re doing well,” Sanfilippo said. “I think right out of the gate Collinsville was solid and we were on their home turf; they were fired up. It was a close game until 60 minutes into the second half when the wheels came off. That’s what we talk about playing these big schools and going into the meat of the schedule right now is we can’t let the wheels go off, or we’re going to be walking away with our head’s down. I think we can walk away from (Edwardsville) with our heads up.”
Besides Weinman, statistically Hartrich leads the Explorers with five assists and is second with nine points. Noah Fahnestock has chipped in with four assists for second on the team.
Goalie Brandon Sanfilippo had 62 saves through eight games and had only allowed 11 goals. He has an .849 save percentage thus far.
Marquette still has Greater Alton matchups at Roxana (Oct. 6), East Alton-Wood River (Oct. 7) and Civic Memorial at home (Oct. 13). They close out the regular season on Oct. 15 with a huge test in defending Class 1A state champion Columbia.