ALTON – The turf field at Public School Stadium was the site for the Class 3A girls soccer Alton Regional semifinal games.

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The Lady Redbirds, seeded No. 8, took on the No. 2-seeded Edwardsville Tigers in the first semifinal on a warmer Wednesday afternoon.

Thanks in part to Ellie Neath’s hat trick, the Tigers cruised to a 7-0 win, advancing to the regional championship game on Saturday, May 18 at 3 p.m.

Being the first semifinal match, at the time Tigers’ head coach Abby Federmann didn’t know who her team was going to face, and she didn’t care.

“No, not at all,” she said after the win. .

“Ideally, you want to play the team you’ve already beaten, but it’s Granite [City], and I don’t want to play Granite. And then Quincy is always so tough. They’re this blue-collar, hard team who always has something to prove because we never see them. They’re very similar, so either way I feel like it’s going to be a good match.”

The No. 3-seeded Warriors beat the No. 6-seeded Quincy Blue Devils 4-1 in the night’s second semifinal, setting a Saturday date with Edwardsville, a team they lost 1-0 to just nine days ago.

As for the game against Alton, Federmann was pleased with what she saw but knows her team can take it a notch higher.

“We went into this, obviously we were hoping for the win, and we thought we could secure it, but it’s more of, we have to look forward and play like we would play against a Granite or Quincy, or O’Fallon next week,” Federmann said.

“We were playing very direct during the first half, which can work today, but it won’t work the rest of the week,” she added.

The direct approach paid off early on when the Tigers took the lead in the third minute.

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Kylie Peel thought she had scored 40 seconds earlier, but it was called back offsides. Alton failed to clear it, and as the ball fell to Neath, she whipped in a shot that Alton keeper Jillian Dwiggins saved, but Peel was there on the doorstep to put away the rebound and make it 1-0.

It was her 11th goal of the season.

The Redbirds kept Edwardsville in check thanks to a well-played offsides trap that the Tigers couldn’t figure out early on.

Another chance broke in the 16th minute as Neath bagged her first of the night on a half breakaway to double the lead. She scored later on in the second half in the 49th and 77th minutes.

Federmann loves what she’s seeing out of Neath.

“She was a starter from the beginning. We didn’t have her last year, she played club. As a freshman, she was pretty fantastic anyway. I expected exactly what I’m getting out of Ellie. She was a little slow starting on the scoring front because she is a very unselfish person, but then she realized she could start scoring some goals when I needed her to,” Federmann said.

“I told her, I told Peel, I told Maggie Young, I told Mea Hook at the beginning of this season; Olivia Bacca left us with a 26-goal deficit. So, I needed at least three of them to make up for her and they have.”

After Wednesday afternoon, Neath is up to 16 goals on the season.

Edwardsville beat Alton 10-0 back on April 4th and then again, but a little closer 5-1 last Tuesday at Alton’s grass field. There was no panic with only a two-goal lead at halftime though from the Tigers.

“I think it was more or less, ‘You can do better than this.’ It wasn’t urgency. We were playing so direct because we knew we could get the jump on them.”

Getting the jump on them is what Edwardsville did with four second-half goals, sending them back to the regional championship.

The Tigers improve to 13-3-1, while Alton closes its season at 3-19.

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