EDWARDSVILLE - Berik Selberg scored a brace (two goals) in the 15th and 28th minutes, and it would be all Edwardsville needed as the Tigers bounced back from a loss to Collinsville two days earlier to defeat Alton 2-0 in a Southwestern Conference boys soccer match Thursday evening at Tiger Stadium.

The win was a very important one for the Tigers, as they were able to come back nicely from the loss to the Kahoks during an exhausting stretch early in the season.

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"Well mostly, I'm kind of just tired," Edwardsville head coach Mark Heiderscheid said, "because we've had a game the other day, I've been through all sorts of paperwork. But keeping more to soccer and less about that one, I have to say with the boys, I'm mostly just happy for them that you have a loss that's never easy, but we started fine. We have a long way to progress in terms of how we need to go ahead and play this year. And we certainly need to get some players back to make ourselves better as well. But this gives a lot of young kids on this one opportunity.

"I think you still have to sit there and say well, you do win 2-0, you did create another great chance that was a goal, but then called offside. And then, we did have other chances. And then, from my perspective, I always want things to be better than perfect and I know from watching that we're OK from where I'm standing. And sometimes, It's good to have somebody that's taking a step back and that is maybe not as particular as what I am and that. And know that there were some things that they were some very good things they were constructing. And moments we had to balance the ball around very effectively, there were moments where we actually defended pretty well."

Heiderscheid also had very kind words for Alton's fighting spirit and energy level, that in the second half came to the forefront, creating several good chances for the Redbirds, but couldn't put the ball in the net.

"And then, there were phases in the game that Alton, with their very large energy and that," Heiderscheid said, "their, simply, fighting spirit that was there until the very end of the game, certainly made it very difficult for us. And as I told (a reporter) earlier, I said you can understand why they were 3-1 going into this game. So anyhow, they made things very challenging, and that's still good for us."

Heiderscheid also used the match as a chance to rest key players because of the grueling early schedule and give younger players a chance to shine.

"I was attempting on this one to make sure as well that we played many, many players," Heiderscheid said. "I've got a couple that were a little banged up as well. They're not playing, three of them. And then, I tried as best as I could to put in my sophomores and any other players out here, so we could go ahead and get rest and also give a number of guys playing time. I know I wish I could got in a couple others, but because of defending being a priority of it being 2-0, it was a little precarious to substitute too much in the backfield, just because at 2-1, then it's a scramble and a dogfight."

Alton did carry the play to the Tigers in the second half, but couldn't find the back of the net as Edwardsville goalie Zeke Manning came up with some good stops to keep the Redbirds off the scoresheet and the Tiger defense carried the day as well.

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"It's always frustrating losing," said Alton head coach Tyler Hamilton. "But I'll also say that this is a game we can build off of. We definitely put a lot of pressure on them, made it difficult for them and at the end of the day, we didn't put our chances away and we suffer for it. But I'm thinking this is a game we can absolutely build off of."

Alton, after having swept their round-robin tournament to open the season, fell to Belleville East in their conference opener on Tuesday and were determined to be competitive against the Tigers.

"Our mindset after losing to East on Tuesday was we just have to be competitive in this game," Hamilton said. "We've got to show up and play a Southwestern Conference soccer game. And that means coming with a lot of energy, intensity and showing that we belong along here. And I think the boys absolutely did that tonight. We make two mistakes that were costly for us, but we battled back in the second half and that's the difference."

The Redbirds have played well thus far and once the team got its bearings and made the adjustments to conference play, the team knows what they need to do to enjoy success.

"You know, we start out with the tournament win, which is always great," Hamilton said. "It definitely builds confidence for our guys. Unfortunately, we jumped right into conference then and the level changes. It's a lot different of a ball game, it's a lot faster, it's a lot more physical. And I think it took some adjusting tor us in the East game to get used to that. But now, rolling into the Edwardsville game, I think we looked a lot better. I think we're starting to get our wits about us and we know exactly what we need to do to be successful."

The two sides spend the first 10 minutes feeling each other out with the Tigers getting the first opportunities, with both sides having shot go wide. In the 15th minute, Selberg went in unmarked on the right side and put the ball inside the far post in into the net to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.

The Tigers had the better of the opportunities following the goal and were able to double their lead after 28 minutes, when Selberg took a pass off a good run by Brian Salazar and slotted the ball first time into the goal to make it 2-0 for Edwardsville. Near the end of the first half, Zach Lane scored a brilliant goal, but it was disallowed for offside, keeping the score 2-0 for Edwardsville at halftime.

At the start of the second half, Abe Gianaris had a great opportunity getting a good through ball in, but his shot was stopped by Aiden Belchik in the Alton goal. Minutes later, a good save by Manning led to a quick Edwardsville counterattack, but the Redbird defense was able to clear the ball off the line during a scramble in front of goal. The best chance of the match for Alton came in the 56th minute, when Simon McClaine shot wide after breaking in alone on Manning. In the 69th minute, Manning came off his line well to break up a possible chance, but an ensuing shot went over the top. The Tiger defense was able to hold off the Redbirds the rest of the way to preserve Manning's clean sheet and recorded the 2-0 win.

The Tigers are now 4-1-0 and will play in the Morton Invitational this weekend, going up against Rockford Jefferson Friday in a 7 p.m. kickoff, then host Belleville East on Tuesday night in a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. Alton goes to 3-2-0 and hosts Belleville West on Tuesday and Rochester on Thursday, both games starting at 6:30 p.m. at Public School Stadium.

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