Toppers Down Panthers In Route 16 Rivalry

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Fresh off a back and forth battle on Monday against one of their Montgomery County rivals, the Lincolnwood Lancers, that finished in a 1-1 draw, the Hillsboro High School boys soccer team traveled to see their other Montgomery County rival, the Litchfield Purple Panthers, for a Tuesday afternoon game at Lloyd Hill Field.  

This contest was a little different than a normal tilt against the Panthers though, as an open date left on the schedule with the disbanding of the Southwestern soccer program left some holes in the conference schedule for all South Central teams.  With this in mind, Tuesday’s afternoon match was actually a rare non-conference meeting between the two teams with their conference game actually set for Sept. 30th at Hillsboro.  

That didn’t stop either team from going all out, however, but after 80 minutes of soccer, the Toppers would come away with a big 6-0 victory.

Both teams would come out gunning from the opening whistle but Hillsboro would be quick to get the upper hand as they spread the field against the Panthers and used a high defensive set to keep the offensive attack up and running.  

The Toppers would nearly break through just 1:15 in as senior forward Gavin Matoush used a nice move to shake loose up the left side and found sophomore midfielder Logan Murray in front.  Murray would get just under the ball and send it over the crossbar, but the attack put Litchfield on notice pretty quickly.  

Minutes later a nearly identical attack, this time with junior mid Adison Pollard setting up Murray off the far side, would have the same result, but junior Will Christian would make up for the two near misses at the 9:45 mark of the first as he took a lead pass from Pollard and blasted a shot off the left post and into the goal to give the Toppers an early 1-0 lead.  

The Toppers would keep up the offense as Matoush and fellow senior Matt Page would test Panther senior keeper Cameron Crow, but Crow, as he was throughout the match, was steady and kept the deficit at one.  

Crow’s goaltending and a little bit of luck would help Litchfield survive the next three minutes as Hillsboro would send two over the crossbar, one wide, and one loose ball back in front of the net (literally from the endline) that would somehow roll all the way across the goal mouth without anyone touching it, much to the bewilderment of fans from both sides.

With 24:30 left, the Toppers would finally break through again, this time as Pollard took the corner kick deep in the Litchfield end and connected with Christian who would bury his second of the day, this time with a redirect with his head, to give Hillsboro the 2-0 lead.  

Matoush would nearly add a third tally of the first half a minute later off a breakaway, but a heads up play on the part Crow to come out and challenge the play and cut down the angle ended the drive.  Matoush would redeem himself with 4:50 left though as he’d find the back of the net after flurry of activity in front of the Litchfield net, giving the Toppers the 3-0 lead going into the break.

When play resumed in the second, it was much of the same with Crow standing on his head and forcing Hillsboro to find new ways to get it done. 

First, Page knocked one off the crossbar, followed by senior Keegan Murray blasting one wide and Crow stoning Matoush on the doorstep on back-to-back attacks, all in the first 10 minutes of the half.  

Then at the 12-minute mark of the frame, Logan Murray would redirect a corner kick off the foot of senior Ethan Lentz to make it 4-0 and nearly add a second of the game a minute later, only to shoot just wide.  

Minutes later, Lentz would get on the board himself with an absolute laser from just outside the 18-yard box to give the Toppers a 5-0 lead and Murray would seal the deal with his second of the game just past halfway as the orange and black would down the Panthers 6-0.

The victory improved Hillsboro to 9-4-1 and 4-0 in the South Central Conference, while Litchfield is 0-10-1 and 0-2 in the SCC. Hillsboro will continue a busy week with games at home against Roxana on Thursday, at Rochester on Friday and at home against Riverton on Saturday. Litchfield also plays Riverton, on Friday, to wrap up the week.

Sept. 21 at Litchfield

Hillsboro 3 3 - 6

Litchfield 0 0 - 0

Scoring: Hillsboro - Will Christian 2, Logan Murray 2, Gavin Matoush 1, Ethan Lentz 1.

Records: Hillsboro (9-4-1); Litchfield (0-10-1).

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