The Western Big Six soccer season came to a fairly quick end Tuesday night at Moline’s Soccer Bowl in the Class 3A Moline Regional.
United Township managed to tie the game at 1-1 before Normal West took over midway through the first half en route to a 3-1 win in Tuesday's first semifinal.
In the nightcap, Moline never got on track against a strong, quick and highly skilled Minooka team, falling 6-1.
The two winners meet in Friday’s finals at 5 p.m.
The Panthers got a goal from junior Jordan Griser 13 minutes into the first half but struggled to put much pressure on Normal West after that. West’s Wade Anderson and Jordan Walker, who also scored the first goal, kept the Wildcats in control with additional first-half goals. There was no scoring in the second half.
“I don’t think the same levels of energy were there tonight (as Saturday in a win over Rock Island),” Panthers coach Phil Weaver said afterward. “If they were, it might have been a little different. I thought we could have caused them problems. Defensively we looked a little fragile.”
Weaver said after it was tied Normal West “got after it a little bit more."
UT got a strong game from junior goalie Brandon Moreno, who had seven saves.
“Brandon is a solid keeper,” Weaver said. “We have high aspirations for him. There were certain aspects of our game that came together but as a whole, there were certain areas that weren’t clicking and it made it difficult obviously for us to win.”
Moline got off to a rough start in the second game and never recovered.
Minooka (15-4) got a header from Jacob Westerhoff for a goal before the match was even three minutes old. Then the Indians caught a break when Westerhoff scored again as a Moline attempt to clear the ball in front of the net failed and bounced to him for an easy goal. After that, the rout was on.
The Indians’ Kyle Sparks made some nifty moves with the ball before firing in the first of his two goals, and just inside the 20-minute mark of the first half, the Maroons were down 3-0. About two minutes later, Matt Schofield upped the margin to four.
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Moline's only goal came on a corner kick in the second half by Kaleb Dothard, just short of 50 minutes into the match.
“We came to play,” said Minooka coach Chris Brolley. “We didn’t have a game in a week, and they came energized.”
For Moline coach Rich Sanchez, a season that included a Big Six title ends with a 9-6-2 mark.
“They’re a pretty good team, very athletic team,” Sanchez said of the Indians. “And they took advantage of some mistakes we made early in the ballgame.
“We have to give them credit. We were hoping to have that kind of energy to start with and obviously they had that extra intensity and sense of urgency. We didn’t have it. Sometimes it’s just about making a play, and we didn’t do enough of that tonight.”
Sanchez said the team was disappointed with ending the season Tuesday in the regional at home.
“But I am proud of the guys," he said. "They worked hard throughout the season. We were able to accomplish one of the goals we had, and that was winning a conference championship. Not too many people had us doing that. It’s just an unfortunate the way it ended.”