CHAMPAIGN — The Charleston soccer team came into Wednesday's Class 2A regional match playing some of the best ball it has all season. The Trojans played a tough Danville squad to a tie and beat Mount Zion handily, the same team Charleston failed to beat earlier in the season.
Even though Charleston lost to Mattoon late in the season, the Trojans still gave the Green Wave their best match of the season. If Charleston could beat Mahomet-Seymour on Wednesday, the two teams would've met in the regional finals.
The Bulldogs beat Charleston earlier in the season and while the Trojans held Mahomet-Seymour scoreless in the first half of the second meeting on Wednesday, they had trouble generating offensive opportunities themselves, not just in the first half but for the whole game.
So when the Bulldogs struck in the 43rd minute, Charleston didn't have a response offensively. Mahomet-Seymour added a second score in the 56th minute and ended the Trojans season with a 2-0 victory.
"The offensive chances were limited. We had some changes, but we didn't capitalize. We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized," Charleston coach Josh Garrett said. "That was the game.
"Other than that, I thought it was a pretty evenly matched game. I thought they had a few more offensive chances than us, but other than that, it was a pretty evenly played match. The seniors went out playing hard and we are proud of them for that."
Charleston ends the season with a 10-5-5 record, the Trojans' best mark since the 2009 season. The Trojans had to overcome some adversity early when former head coach David Dunlap was offered a teaching position in Urbana about a week before the team's first match, which he accepted.
Garrett took over the coaching job on an interim role for this season with Tony Meza serving as the assistant coach. Garrett said the team handled the situation well, as it did with everything else throughout the season.
"I think we played well as a team and the seniors were great team leaders on and off the field so they should leave with their heads held high," Garrett said. "The team picked it up early and took off. They had to adjust to our style and how to play our game, but once they did they just took off. It was great."
The Trojans offense had an early opportunity when Jack Thain broke free, but his shot was too high. Charleston only had two more shots the rest of the way and neither one was on goal.
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Garrett said the Bulldogs had good team speed to contend with the Trojans' offense.
"Their defensive center mid was strong and he was tough to get around," Garrett said. "They were fast. Those were the two things that stood out because they were fast all over the field. It was hard to get behind them because they would catch up to us and it was hard to keep up with their forwards because of their speed."
The Bulldogs had a chance to take an early lead when Evan Lundstrom broke free, but he pushed his shot too far to the left.
Then in the 16th minute, a foul on Charleston gave the Bulldogs a direct kick. Mahomet-Seymour faked the shot twice, but goalie Andrew Tresslar read it, dove and made the save to keep the match scoreless.
Mahomet-Seymour, though, struck in the 43rd minute. One of the Bulldogs' midfielders sent a long pass into the middle of the offensive zone and Lundstrom broke for it. He beat two Charleston defenders to the ball and even though he lost the ball for a moment in the box, he got it back and kicked it in for the 1-0 lead.
"We actually talked about how the way he makes his runs at halftime and we didn't cover it the way we wanted to," Garrett said. "It happens."
In the 56th minute, the Bulldogs were awarded a free kick a few feet outside of the box. The Bulldogs tried to maintain possession on the send in and a couple of Trojan players battled for the ball. One Trojan player fell down and the ball hit his hand, resulting in a handball call in the box.
That call resulted in a penalty kick, which Lundstrom took and made to give the Bulldogs a 2-0 lead.
"It was a handball technically and they got a PK and I had a bad feeling that guy was going to put it in," Garrett said.