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Alton's Eric Ferenbach works around a Granite City defender on Tuesday at Gordon Moore Park.
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C.J. Nasello and Brad Leonard embrace after Nasello's first of two goals on Tuesday vs. Granite City.
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C.J. Nasello prepares to kick the ball Tuesday at Gordon Moore Park against Granite City.
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Alton's Kain Henson goes up for a header during the first half against Granite City on Tuesday.
ALTON – C.J. Nasello of the Alton boys’ soccer team has a knack for being in the right place at the proper time.
His dad, Greg, was a standout player for the Redbirds and also coached them. Grandpa Charlie, another AHS graduate, started youth soccer in Alton more than 40 years ago.
Greg and Charlie were on hand Tuesday to see sophomore C.J. score both goals in Alton’s 2-0 win over Granite City at Moore Park. The Redbirds improved to 2-1 in winning their SWC opener. The Warriors are 0-3 and 0-2.
“The boys played well tonight and we feel like we got some nice momentum going from the final match Saturday in our tournament,” Redbirds’ coach Jay Robertson said.
Alton tied defending state champion Edwardsville 2-2 in the tournament finals and finished 1-1-1 in its weekend tourney. Nasello helped the Redbirds along with a goal in a victory against Dunlap.
The fullback doubled his fun against Granite City. Nasello punched home a goal –assisted by Micah Wrigley — at 12:30 and then tallied an unassisted goal at 48:51. Both shots sailed high in the net past the outstretched reach of Warriors’ goalie Cole DeYong.
“My dad told me that it’s more about placement than power,” Nasello said of shooting on goal.
He added, “I got a nice pass from Micah (Wrigley) on the first goal and on the second one, I turned and put it on goal. I was as shocked as anybody went it went in the net.”
Robertson said of Nasello: “He reads the ball very well on offense and if he sees an opening, he’s a good finisher.”
The Redbirds made the most of their opportunities. They outshot the Warriors 11-7. Both teams had two corner kicks. Alton goalie Shane Bollini made four saves in logging a shutout.
“They put their shots on goal and we really didn’t do that,” Granite City coach Kenneth Jackson said. “I thought we should have scored in the first half, but we couldn’t do it.
“Then we got down by two goals in the second half and we had to change some things we were doing.”
There was no need for the Redbirds to change anything. They put the finishing touches on their victory and celebrated it in style.
“Our backs have been playing very well for us,” Robertson said, crediting the Birds’ defense. “Overall, we have a good group of seniors and we have some younger guys that are pushing them.
“Skylar Funk (another sophomore) gave us a lot of energy.”
Nasello gave them ample firepower. He foresees the Redbirds progressing steadily throughout the season.
“We have some momentum going and we know that we have a good team than can compete with anybody we play,” Nasello said.
He figures to have his own cheering section of family and friends during the fall season. You can visualize grandpa leading the charge.
“He’s extremely low-key with me,” Nasello said. “But he’s one of my biggest fans.”
ALTON 2, GRANITE CITY 0
Granite City 0 0 – 0
Alton 1 1—2
A –Nasello (Wrigley), 12:30
A – Nasello (unassisted), 48:51
Shots: Alton 11, Granite City 7; Corner kicks: Alton 2, Granite City 2; Saves: Bollini (Alton) 4, DeYong (Granite City) 3