Quincy soccer coach Ron Bridal described Andrew VanderMaiden as a “blue collar” player.
It’s a fitting description of the junior forward, whose efforts following up deflected shots resulted in scoring two goals as Quincy defeated United Township 3-1 at the Panther Pitch.
The Blue Devils (3-3, 3-0 Western Big Six) and keeper Frank Heck did not allow a goal Tuesday night until Chan Nawl got the Panthers (3-3-1, 0-1-1) on the board in the final two minutes.
Keaton Hull tapped in Quincy’s opening goal off a Bromley Brown cross in the 11th minute, with VanderMaiden scoring in the 56th and 75th minutes to keep the game just out of UT’s reach.
“That’s something that Andrew brings on a daily basis, whether it’s training or a game, that kind of work ethic,” Bridal said after VanderMaiden’s two-goal effort. “He’s a blue-collar kid and we’re really pleased with him and how he brings that.”
Heck had four saves for Quincy. UT had a shot hit the goal post on a good look later in the second half, but Quincy finished with nine shots on goal.
UT coach Phil Weaver was disappointed in his Panthers, which had a week off and started seven seniors. He said his team was often “static” throughout the loss, and couldn’t connect in the middle of the field.
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“It didn’t look like we were hungry enough and disciplined enough to break them down,” Weaver said. “You’ve got to bring that hunger each time you’re out here to improve your game. And help improve the quality of the play of the teammates around you. Too many individualistic things going on out there, rather than teamwork.”
Weaver said that UT is still learning to produce offensively without last year’s all-stater Arafath Ouro Gnao and his 30 goals. Along with improving its situation at keeper.
Bridal said UT presented a different look defensively than what they’ve seen so far in the season, but they came prepared after seeing the Panthers at the Quincy Notre Dame tournament.
“We knew that they were going to be playing a 4-4-2 with a sweeper and a stopper, and we knew they were going to be looking for a really direct ball,” Bridal said. “We accomplished what we needed to, keeping a shutout until the very end there. But I give them that goal, they worked hard all day long and attacked in a really direct way.”
Quincy’s only blemish in the final couple minutes followed a yellow card after UT’s Ben Downey was tripped on a late tackle and caught a Quincy player’s heal on the way down.
“It leaves a little bit of a bitter taste, because it would have been nice to get to 3-0 without a yellow card and finish it a little cleaner,” Bridal said, “but those things happen and kids make errors in judgement, and the boys will learn from the mistake.”
Quincy is the first team in the conference to three wins. Only Rock Island (2-0 in conference) is without a loss or tie after beating Moline 1-0 and Geneseo topped Galesburg 2-0. Sterling got its first Big 6 win after beating Alleman 5-1 Tuesday.
“We’re super stoked with our performance so far, 3-0 in the conference is a start that we wanted to see,” Bridal said. “A major goal for us is to win the conference every year. And to get off to a 3-0 start like this is something we’re really proud of. We love the competition in the Big 6 and we love playing these guys. They’re well-coached and disciplined.”