A photo from Saturday, September 3rd when the CM Eagles hosted the Triad Knights in MVC play.

BETHALTO - The Mississippi Valley Conference may be the most overlooked sports conference in all of Southern Illinois. The teams within that MVC are making that known this season, especially on the soccer fields.

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After a long regular season and some tough playoff games, it comes down to the Class 2A Sectional Semifinals, two games that will be hosted at Civic Memorial High School's new-and-improved Hauser Field. All four teams playing came out of the MVC, something that hasn't been done in a long time.

"I've been at Triad for 22 years and no one really talked about 'The Valley' back 20 years ago," Knights' head coach Jim Jackson said after his team's regional championship win over Marquette Catholic Saturday afternoon.

The hosting CM Eagles (23-4) will play Mascoutah (13-8-1) at 4 p.m. followed by Triad (18-3) vs. Waterloo (10-12-2) at 6 p.m. Both games happening today, October 26.

CM beat Effingham (8-0) and Mattoon (6-1) to win their third regional championship in four years. Mascoutah beat Olney Richland County (8-0) and Carbondale (3-1) to set up a rematch with the Eagles.

The two teams played one another last season in the sectional semifinal and the Indians came out on top 2-1 before losing to Triad in the championship by a score of 3-0.

Dating back to 1999, CM has a 13-36-4 record against Mascoutah and the two have become somewhat rivals as of recently.

Mascoutah had won the previous 14 conference games against CM.

That was until October 13th of this season when the Eagles bested them by a score of 3-1, snapping that streak and ending their regular season with a bang.

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"t was the first time being able to beat them in a very long time," CM head coach Derek Jarman said. CM beat Mascoutah 2-1 in the Metro Cup back in 2016 but hasn't won in traditional conference play for a while.

"Any time you play Mascoutah it's going to be an entertaining game," he said. "We both bring the best out in each other and it's always a battle."

Triad, last season's Class 2A State-Runner-Ups play Waterloo, a team that was knocked out in the regional semifinals last season. The two teams split their regular-season slate. The Knights won the first meeting at home by a score of 3-2 on September 13 while the Bulldogs won their home game by a score of 2-1 on October 6. Waterloo ended the season on a three-game losing streak but turned things around for the postseason.

Jackson and Jarman agreed that any one of these teams can beat one another on any given day.

"Our conference is very tough, Waterloo won state seven or eight years ago, we've been twice the last few years," Jackson said. "We've got some really good coaches and you know, our kids can play. We play some really tough schedules; we play the big boys, and that makes us better. Hopefully, it pays off for one of us."

The conference has the St. Louis region's highest goalscorer, senior forward Bryce Davis who's bagged 58 goals this season for CM. The Eagles also have the assist leader, senior midfielder Brayden Zyung with 32.

Triad's Suter brothers have combined for 40 goals, 27 from Tobey and the other 13 from Wyatt. Waterloo's Caeden Wille has 18 goals on the season.

Both sectional games at CM should be instant classics.

"I think it's pretty rare," Jarman said about the all-MVC sectional. "Usually, you end up knocking each other out in the regionals. It speaks to the value of the conference."

"It's a soccer conference now."

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