In a game that will surely be remembered as an instant classic, the Carlinville Cavaliers girls soccer team pulled off a 3-2 upset Friday June 4, against the home Hillsboro Toppers in a game that came down to the final seconds.
Although this year’s different playoff format elected to skip a regional championship game in favor of a larger sectional tournament, this round two sectional match-up certainly had the suspense and emotion that goes along with a typical regional championship game.
Each team embodied a different style of play throughout the contest, as Hillsboro played an aggressive offensive style that saw the Lady Toppers putting shots on the net early and often.
Senior Kelsey Holtgrave had a trio of first half shots on the Carlinville goalkeeper, while sophomore Layne Rupert also had a pair of attempts before having her third shot ricochet off the crossbar just before halftime.
Alternatively the Cavies played a slower, more defensive-minded scheme that focused on the counter attack. Although Carlinville had far fewer shot attempts than the Toppers (Hillsboro with nearly 20 attempts at goal to Carlinville’s six), the Cavies were lethal in front of the net with the shots that they did have.
Carlinville would strike first at the 23 minute mark of the first half, after goalkeeper Matilda Mitchell made a save and quickly got the ball out to her midfielders. After a series of passes, the ball was led to forward Marlee Whitler, who made a nice run down the left sideline.
Whitler was able to get past the defense before laying the ball off to fellow forward Annabelle Hulin, who timed a perfect run in front of the goal and finished to take the 1-0 lead. Whitler would take over goalkeeper duties shortly after, following an injury to Mitchell.
After the halftime intermission the Toppers were right back to it on offense, with four shots in the first eight minutes of the second half that were all unable to find the back of the net.
Finally, Hillsboro would get their equalizer from freshman Kinley Richardson, who received a great cross from sophomore Kamryn Kiper. Richardson would receive the ball, turn, and fire a strike into the corner to get things back at even with just over 20 minutes remaining in the second half.
Carlinville was unfazed by the Hiltopper comeback, and just two minutes later would go back on top after a Hillsboro challenge in the box led to a Carlinville penalty. Hulin once again would score for the Cavaliers as she slotted her second goal of the game off the penalty to retake the lead.
The Toppers continued to fight back, however, and with 15 minutes remaining, they were once again able to tie things up with their second goal. Rupert made a long run down the right side of the field before playing a ball in front of the Carlinville net.
Although the pass missed the first Topper target in the middle, junior Abbigail Schreiber came crashing to the back post and put the ball past the keeper to keep the Toppers alive.
The score would stay even at two as the final whistle of regulation sounded, meaning the game was headed for two 10-minute halves of overtime. The first half of overtime saw no scoring as both teams battled back and forth in the midfield.
The second overtime would finally feature the go-ahead goal for Carlinville, as midfielder Maycee Gall was able to sneak in behind the Hillsboro defense and bury a shot to the bottom left of the goal, to take the lead with only five minutes remaining in the contest.
With time winding down, the Hiltoppers were determined to find their third equalizer of the game to keep their season alive. Hillsboro began sending defenders forward to aid in the search for a goal, and, with a minute left, were nearly able to find one. Layne Rupert found the ball on the edge of the box and fired a hard shot on goal, but was thwarted by a great save from Whitler.
After clearing the ball away, Hillsboro had time for one final shot attempt. With a sea of black Topper jerseys in the Carlinville goal box, a cross was sent in front of the Cavies goal with less than 10 seconds remaining in the game. Through the mass of bodies the ball was able to find a Hillsboro attacker in front of the net who got a foot on the ball for a shot, but an incredible diving, goal-line save by Marlee Whitler stopped the shot and sealed the victory for Carlinville.
With the loss, Hillsboro’s impressive season would come to an end. The Toppers finished the year with a final record of 11-6-1, and 5-2 in South Central Conference play, which was good for third place.
Carlinville’s victory puts their record at 6-7-1 and keeps their season alive. The Cavaliers will face the 14-2-2 Roxana Shells Tuesday, June 8 in a sectional semi-final match-up. The Shells will be visiting the Cavies, coming off a 7-0 victory in their own sectional quarterfinal against the Greenville Comets.
June 4 at Hillsboro
Carlinville 1 1 0 1 3
Hillsboro 0 2 0 0 2
Goals: Hillsboro - Kinley Richardson 1, Abbigail Schreiber 1; Carlinville - Annabelle Hulin 2, Maycee Gall 1. Assists: Hillsboro - Kamryn Kiper 1, Layne Rupert 1; Carlinville - Marlee Whitler 1, Jillian Stayton 1. Goalkeepers: Hillsboro - Kylee Pastrovich (2 saves, 1 goal allowed), Avery Walden (2 saves, 2 goals allowed); Carlinville - Matilda Mitchell (6 saves, 0 goals allowed); Marlee Whitler (7 saves, 2 goals allowed).
Records: Carlinville (6-7-1); Hillsboro (11-6-1).
IHSA Class 1A Soccer Litchfield Sectional
Tuesday, June 1
Match 1: (5) Carlinville 5, (4) Southwestern 4
Match 2: (3) Staunton 10, (6) Gillespie 1
Match 3: (4) Father McGivney 13, (5) Metro-East Lutheran 1
Match 4: (3) Greenville 3, (6) East Alton-Wood River 0
Friday, June 4
Match 5: (5) Carlinville 3, (1) Hillsboro 2
Match 6: (2) Litchfield 3, (3) Staunton 1
Match 7: (1) Alton Marquette 7, (4) Father McGivney 0
Match 8: (2) Roxana 7, (3) Greenville 0
Tuesday, June 8
Match 9: 6 p.m. - (2) Litchfield vs. (1) Alton Marquette
Match 10: 5 p.m. - (2) Roxana at (5) Carlinville
Friday, June 11
Match 11: TBA - Winner Match 9 vs. Winner Match 10