GRANITE CITY – Alton's Redbirds concluded their girls' soccer season with a 10-7-2 mark on Tuesday night in a 1-0 IHSA Class 3A Granite City Regional semifinal match loss to the Warriors.
The Warriors moved on to the championship played on Saturday and advanced from there with a 13-5-3 mark.
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Tuesday night's IHSA Class 3A Granite City Regional semifinal match between the host Warriors and Alton had a bit of everything.
Close play. A bit of controversy. A big finish.
Even a weather delay.
In the end, however, the Warriors prevailed when Abby Reeves pinballed a goal past Redbird goalkeeper Addison Miller in the 70th minute to give GCHS a 1-0 win over Alton to advance to Friday's regional final against Edwardsville.
“I think they were controlling everything when the lightning delay hit,” said Redbird coach Jeff Hayes. “I looked at it as a positive for us to give us a chance to catch our breath, regroup and come out with a little bit more energy; they still kind of stuck it to us at the end and converted on that (corner kick that led to the match-winner for GCHS).
“I'm happy that the girls didn't give up and created a little bit of pressure. I think that Granite controlled the midfield and had a little bit more in their step and carried the momentum the whole way through.”
The controversy came right before the weather delay; the Warriors' Maya Ware had apparently scored a goal in the 64th minute while Alton was attempting to bring a substitute into the match, but officials failed to waive the sub into play and initially allowed Ware's goal; it led to a discussion among the officials and coaches that eventually disallowed the goal.
Following the discussion, lightning was detected in the area, prompting officials to call a half-hour delay in the match under IHSA rules.
“The first goal obviously had her (Alton's) girl standing at the (sideline) and they didn't acknowledge it,” said Warrior coach Ken Prazma. “I got it; when you make a call, I can argue all I want and either support the call and stay in the game or yell at them and get thrown out.
“The girls kept playing and the second half was so much better than the first half; fortunately for us, the wind kicked up a little bit. That's always an advantage in a game.”
As far as the weather delay went for the Warriors – which came right after the decision to disallow the initial goal was made – Prazma made it simple: “I told them, 'we have to get that out of our mind',” Prazma said. “It was a good goal; unfortunately, it was called back. I understood and I think they understood and they got their mind off of it; they were kind of pretty jovial and I thought they were still ready to play.”
Not long after play resumed, the Warriors were given a corner kick that went to Reeves' head; she headed it to the goal and it bounced off the goalpost and eventually over the goal line before being knocked off the underside of the crossbar; by then, the goal had been given by officials to put the Warriors ahead.
“They played well and knocked the ball around and got a nice head ball from Abby Reeves for us to win the game,” Prazma said.
The Warriors had kept the Redbirds reeling in the second half. “Credit goes to them for the way they were playing,” Hayes said. “Both teams were playing well, but they were playing with a little bit more energy and anticipating balls and winning balls in the air, and that made the difference with the pressure they were putting on on us.”
Hayes was happy with the Redbird season as a whole. “It's been a grind of a season; I'm really happy with the effort that we had,” Hayes said. “I don't think there's really been a game where we just played badly; we've had a lot of senior leadership and we're going to miss that for sure.
“All you can ask from them is that they give their best effort every time they're out here, and they did.”
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