ALTON — Neither the Alton Redbirds soccer team nor the Marquette Catholic Explorers managed bragging rights in the city rivalry in Wednesday night’s contest at Gordon Moore Park.
The non-conference contest ended in a 1-1 tie. The Redbirds challenged Marquette throughout the first half. Alton put four shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. The Redbirds' Brianna Hatfield scored at approximately the halfway mark in the half, with 20:20 left to play in the first half. Hatfield launched a shot approximately 25-feet from the goal that found the back of the net.
AHS (5-0-1) put four more shots on goal in the first half while Explorers mustered just one. Goalkeeper Lauren Fishcer’s saves helped Marquette's cause.
“We were very happy with how we came out,” first-year Alton coach Jeff Hayes said. “And you don’t want that to end.”
But the composure of the contest changed in the second half. Catholic (0-3-1) automatically put pressure on Alton with a shot on goal approximately one minute into the half. Annabelle Copeland tied the contest with a goal a little under five minutes into the second half.
“The goal, it was just adrenaline, excitement,” Copeland said.
Explorers' head coach Steve Mitchell said a halftime talk changed things.
“We had a heart to heart at halftime,” he said. “They came out a lot stronger. I have a lot of talent over there.”
He also talked about the physical nature of the game.
“I thought our girls played OK,” Mitchell said. “Considering there were over 40 fouls, I thought that we kept our composure. But we’re still not looking completely motivated. There seems to be something missing.”
The second half proved to be a contrast in more than just goals scored, as the play was spread out on both side of the field. Alton placed two shots on goal after the tying score while Marquette placed three. However, possession time was close.
“There wasn’t a time, a gap of 10 minutes, when we didn’t have the ball,” Hayes said. “I like our fight.”
Hayes also felt more even play changed things in the second half.
“Your legs get really tired,” he said. “There’s also a lot of pressure on the midfield. We wanted to get back a little more than we would anticipate and just kick the ball out. We were doing a good job of passing through the midfield and getting it to our forwards. I thought our forwards did a really good job tonight. We’ve been able to do that a lot in the first six games, we just have to start finishing those balls.”
The Explorers next play Mater Dei at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Mater Dei. The Redbirds will be back in action against Springfield at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at the new Piasa Motor Fuels Field behind Alton High.