The Litchfield-Gillespie boys soccer team ended the season on a high note with three wins in a row, but how would that momentum carry over to the postseason? As it turns out, pretty well.
The Panthers opened up play in the Class 2A Civic Memorial Regional on Monday, Oct. 18, by beating Effingham 4-2 and earning a spot in Wednesday’s regional semifinal.
As the higher seed in the subsectional, the number eight Panthers hosted the number nine Flaming Hearts and made the most of the home field advantage with three first half goals.
After getting stoned by the Effingham keeper just five minutes in, Drake Gasperson found the back of the net with 28:23 to play in the first half for the game’s first goal.
Litchfield had been the aggressors on offense for much of the first half and were pressuring the Hearts’ defense when a defender passed the ball back to the Effingham keeper. Unable to pick the ball up, the goalie tried to clear the ball away, but a hard charging Gasperson got there first and drilled home the first goal.
Gasperson would strike again ten minutes later when he took a pass from Keenan Logan and riffled a hard, low shot between the goalkeeper and the near post.
It looked as if Litchfield might settle for the 2-0 lead at the break, but with just 51 seconds to play, Spencer Hoehl made a run down the sideline, maneuvered through traffic and put a shot past the keeper for goal number three.
That proved to be enough to beat the Hearts, although Gerard Herrara would net two goals for the visitors in the second half. Cameron Crow would come out of goal and score an insurance tally for the Panthers to provide the final 4-2 margin.
With the win, Litchfield (5-12-1) moved on to play Civic Memorial on Wednesday, Oct. 20, in the regional semifinal. The Eagles, the second seed in the subsectional and host of the regional, played the Panthers on Sept. 25 and scored a 7-0 victory in Bethalto.
Unfortunately, the Eagles would get the better end of Wednesday's match-up as well as the defeated the Panthers 9-0 to move on to the regional championship.
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