BOYS SOCCER

There was a pattern in the Pekin boys soccer team's 4-0 loss Tuesday night at Morton.

Each Potters goal in the Mid-Illini Conference game was unassisted, off a Pekin defensive deflection.

"My guys are playing well as a team. When we clean up our mistakes in the back, some of these games will go our way," said Dragons coach Gus Kormah.

Wesley Gibson scored twice for Morton. Justin McCabe and Mustafa Bakirdan had the other goals. Potters goalie Joe Zern had two saves.
Pekin goalie Riley Bradshaw had four saves.

Ouch: The Illini Bluffs boys soccer team won again Wednesday, but this one hurt.
Three players were injured in the Tigers' 3-2 road victory over Orion/Sherrard that gave Illini Bluffs a seven-game winning streak.

"It was a hard-fought comeback victory, but it was marred by injuries to Jake Larson, Drew Davis and Dalton Duhs," said Tigers coach Gerard Smith. "We had a decent performance against a very physical side."

Illini Bluffs jumped in front 1-0 at 25:52 on a penalty kick goal by Nolan Rademaker after Cam Scott was taken down in the box, but goals by Tanner Irey and Jordan Maynard gave Orion/Sherrard a 2-1 lead at halftime.

A scramble in the goal mouth that the Tigers (7-3-2) couldn't clear led to Irey's goal and an unmarked Maynard scored on a header off a corner kick by Jacob Kruze.

Smith said he told his team at halftime not to panic because it had the wind in the second half and it can score goals, plus the Tigers didn't play well in the first half.

The loss of Larson, a defensive midfielder who has been Illini Bluffs' best player this season, hurt the Tigers in the first half.
It didn't take long for Illini Bluffs to tie the game. Scott scored at 48:52.

"Blake Webb sent a perfect ball through to Cam (Scott), who took the ball in stride and smashed it into the left corner of the net from 15 yards out," Smith said.

The winner came at 57:19, again by Rademaker.

Lance Crisp took on two defenders and sent the ball back to Rademaker, who booted it home.

Another tie for Dunlap: Just 29.2 seconds remained Tuesday night when Ryan Kastl saved the day for the Washington boys soccer team with a free kick goal from distance to help the Panthers earn a 1-1 draw against visiting Dunlap.

With the Eagles up a goal following Habtamu Kruiswyk’s blast in the 52nd minute, Kastl’s strike from 25 yards out found its way past Dunlap keeper Sam Boston for the late equalizer.

Though positive, the result, combined with Morton’s 4-0 victory over Pekin, dropped Washington (8-2-1, 3-0-1) into a first-place tie with the Potters (6-5-2, 3-0-1) atop the Mid-Illini Conference standings.

The two teams will meet Oct. 10 at Morton’s Rotary Field in the conference finale for both sides.

Despite the setback, the Eagles camp remains optimistic as the season works its way toward October.

Sporting a 6-1-5 record that includes some notable draws, the team’s performance will likely be a topic of discussion when Class 2A sectional seeds are determined next week.

Season opening 1-1 draws with Edwardsville (10-1-2) and Moline (6-2-5) set the tone for the Eagles, who outshot East Peoria 14-4 in a 0-0 tie Sept. 5 but needed a late goal to get a 2-2 draw with Morton a week later.

The Eagles’ 1-1 draw at Washington on Tuesday was their third consecutive tie in Mid-Illini play.

“The boys played well and deserved a win,” coach Allan Hansen said afterward. “It is what it is and that’s the game of soccer.

“Overall I've been happy with the level we've been playing at. Graduating eight starters from a year ago, I was a little unsure of what to expect. I was optimistic, though.”

Unlucky in some games yet fortunate in others, the Eagles know their true record probably lies closer to 11-1 than 6-6. They also know that type of hypothetical thinking is for the birds.

“The team has fulfilled my optimistic thinking,” Hansen said. “I'm frustrated by all the ties, though, because we play to win and should have a few more.”

Peoria Journal Star contributed to this report. Steve Stein can be reached at stevestein21@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.