Boys Soccer Are Regional Champions

Maggie Terry, Staff writer

As the timer counts down and the final buzzer goes off, cheers erupt. The student section decked out in orange watches as the team captain gets awarded the plaque that reads Regional Champion.

After two losses to the Collinsville Kahoks, the EHS Tigers boys’ varsity soccer team finally got its revenge.

The third-seeded Tigers ended the first-seeded Kahoks’ season on Saturday night at Collinsville. The Tigers won 2-0, earning the title of Class 3A regional champions.

Families, friends, and students from both schools came to watch the rival schools compete at Collinsville. 

“(The fans) added a different element to the game all the guys were able to feed off of,” senior team captain Tyler Dacus said.

The high intensity game kept fans on their toes for the entire 80 minutes. 

Both teams had multiple shots on goal, but the first half ended 0-0.  

“The first 20 minutes were a bit shaky with simple turnovers from both sides, but as we settled in and started connecting more passes, I was confident we had what we needed to leave with a regional title,” senior goalkeeper Zachary Chitwood said.

The Tigers took a 1-0 lead in the 58th minute on a penalty kick by Dacus. The penalty was awarded to the Tigers when junior Colin McGinnis went down in a collision in the Kahok box. 

“In that situation you kind of just get tunnel vision, and it’s just you and the goalie,” Dacus said.

With 22 minutes left, the Kahoks had multiple chances to tie the game, including a cross in front of the Tigers goal, but Chitwood made a diving save to keep the lead.

A free kick by senior captain and defender Sam Reader resulted in a Tigers goal after a Kahok defender headed the ball into the Kahok goal as he collided into his goalie. This gave the Tigers a 2-0 lead with 6 minutes left. 

“My first thought was just to make sure the guys realized we had not won yet and still had 6 minutes to play,” Dacus said. “The clock ticking down in the back was always on my mind but all of us tried to act like we were still holding on to a lead.”

Tensions grew high on the field with 2 minutes remaining when a fight broke out between both teams, resulting in a red card and two yellow cards for the Kahoks and one yellow card for the Tigers. 

The Kahok player who was given the red card is suspended from playing the first game of next season.

Fans counted down the last seconds of the game until the timer reached zero, ending the game at 2-0. After the Tigers loss to the O’Fallon Panthers last year in the regional finals, the Tigers finally had their chance to celebrate with the plaque. 

“I was just ecstatic I could get to play another game in a tiger uniform. After coming so close to holding a plaque last year it was one of our goals for the season this year. Now we have the chance to hold up two more and win a state title,” Dacus said.

This is head coach Mark Heiderscheid’s 17th regional championship in his 23 years as head coach.

“This one was different just because oftentimes it was a relief to win it because we are the top seed but in this one… It has way more meaning and impact,” Heiderschied said.

The Tigers now advance to sectionals and now will play O’Fallon on Wednesday night at Collinsville. This will be the third time the teams play each other this year, with both teams having one win. 

After the last-minute upset last year ending the Tigers’ season, the team hopes that they have what it takes to win and advance to super sections on Friday. 

“As long as we play as a team and defend their tactics accordingly,” Chitwood said. “We have what it takes for a result.”