GRANITE CITY — A year ago, the Edwardsville Tigers turned in one of their best seasons in program history, winning a school-record 23 matches, recording 20 shutouts and reaching the super-sectional round of the playoffs.
This season, the Tigers are picking up right where they left off in 2014. After beating the Granite City Warriors 2-1 at Gene Baker Field, Edwardsville is 10-2-2 with four regular season matches left.
"We're just a big family," Edwardsville senior forward Allison Pritchard said. "We work together."
The Warriors dropped to 4-8-1 overall and 1-4 in Southwestern Conference play. Out of Granite City's four conference losses, three of them were by one goal.
The Warriors have six regular season matches remaining, two of them are at home.
"Our goal is we have to improve, not give up free kicks in our back third, not foul in our back third and work on possession again," Granite City coach Kenny Prazma said. "We can't throw balls up top and hope that one girl can be forward. It's just not working. We're not getting enough girls to run the field.”
Granite City looks to bounce back on Wednesday, when it plays the Highland Bulldogs at Gene Baker Field. The Warriors will celebrate senior night as 12 seniors will be honored before the match.
“You’ve just got to play,” Prazma said. “That’s what our work in practice is for.”
The Warriors travel to Burlington, Iowa this weekend to play three matches in the Iowa Showcase. They play West Des Moines Valley in their first match on Friday.
With the loss to the Tigers on Tuesday, the Warriors will not finish with a .500 season in conference play. Granite City wraps up its league season on May 7 at Alton.
Edwardsville improved to 2-1-1 in conference play. The Tigers are tied for second with Belleville West and O'Fallon in the league standings.
"We needed it, that's for sure," said Pritchard, whose team lost its only conference match to Collinsville. "We've been playing good, but we haven't always been getting the results. We haven't been putting the ball in the net as much as we wanted to, so a conference win is big for us, especially towards the end of the season."
Sophomore Mallory Mushill gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead by scoring an unassisted goal from 30 yards out with 30 minutes left in the first half. It was Mushill's third goal of the season.
"High balls are tough," Prazma said. "Their ball was put in at a good spot. Still, as a keeper, when you're hitting it from that far out, you should have enough time to get back and at least have a shot at putting it in your hands or knocking it over the post or something."
Two minutes later, Granite City senior Ashleigh Briggs tied the match by scoring an unassisted goal from 30 yards out. It was Briggs' team-leading sixth goal of the season.
Pritchard, who is one of four seniors on the Edwardsville roster, gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead by scoring on a free kick with eight minutes, 57 seconds remaining in the second half.
She took the team lead in goals with five.
"It was pretty big," Pritchard said. "It definitely was a game-changer. It got us going. I think it gave us more intensity towards the end of the game to finish it off."