ALTON – For some players, it was their sixth game in seven days. For other players, they went from taking the ACT to competing. But for every player that stepped on the field for the Marquette vs. Edwardsville soccer game, the conditions were searingly hot. With physically difficult conditions and tired minds, the smaller field of Gordon F. Moore Park turned the game into a chess match that would end in a 1-1 draw.
“I think for our part, it looked like we were a bit wary from our games," Edwardsville’s Head Boys Soccer Coach Mark Heidersheid said. “I think we lacked energy coming out here on Saturday. As a result, we connected the ball phenomenally well in our previous games but here we struggled to make the most elementary pass. When that happens and you lack energy, there just isn’t a lot you can do to resolve that.”
With the 61st team in the nation playing tired and discombobulated, the Explorers defense broke up nearly every single one of Edwardsville’s offensive attempts.
Marquette Catholic Head Boys Soccer Coach Jerry Disalvo noticed and was sure to comment about the Explorers' defense against Edwardsville.
“I told our defense that if I had a game ball, I’d give them the ball," Disalvo said. "Every one of those players that you see back there, did not play on our team last year in a back position. That entire line was converted this year. Three are juniors and one is a senior and they are doing an excellent job for their first time together.”
The effort from the blue and white team was not missed and was greatly appreciated by their coach. “Bar far, Edwardsville is the best team we have played all year and we played them pretty well. I think they owned about 65 percent of the game. But we hung in there and played a very good game," Disalvo said.
For the first half and second half, the Explorers and the Tigers would break up all the offensive opportunities either team tried to generate. It was not until there were 19-minutes left in the game that either side opened the scoring after a beautiful goal by Explorer’s midfielder, Dre Davis.
Despite only one goal scored, a struggling Tigers team, and less than 10 minutes left in the game, Edwardsville’s offense managed to find the back of the net with a great goal by Ben Loftus. Loftus’ game-tying goal would be the only Tiger goal scored. The Tigers head coach knew how significant of a goal it was. “There will always be bad games or games that you don’t just play as well you’d like. I think that this group has always found a way. Even here, they messed up, Marquette did a great job of playing very direct. But you must commend that we were able to fabricate a goal when it simply looked like it was not possible," He
Whether it was the heat, tired minds, or a combination, both the Explorers and the Tigers shared the same struggles on Saturday. It makes sense that both sides would share the same score and finish the game tied, one to one.
Much of what the Explorer's head coach saw on Saturday's game, he hopes to bring back against Granite City when they take on the Warriors. According to Disalvo, “Granite City is going to be a hard contest for us. You can see on our record; we go toe to toe to the very end. I think these kids are pumped as can be. They came into the game thinking they were going to win. They respect Edwardsville very much, but we know what we did against Quincy and Althoff and what we can do against other good teams. Their confidence has been rising more and more so they thought they were going to win. This for us is a huge victory, even though we did not win, for our confidence moving forward with the rest of the year.”
As for the Tigers' head coach, the message to his players moving forward is simple, “you simply have to adapt, adjust and that’s it," Heidersheid said.
To catch the Explorers’ next matchup, you can visit Granite City High School on Monday, September 13th as they take on the Granite City Warriors.
Tiger fans trying to watch their next game can visit the soccer fields at Edwardsville High School as they take on the O’Fallon High School Panthers on Tuesday, September 14.