ALTON -- The Marquette Catholic Explorers soccer team earned its seventh victory of the season on Monday in a non-conference contest against the Granite City Warriors at Gordon Moore Park.
Sophomore midfielder Chris Hartrich scored two of the Explorers’ four goals in the 4-1 win. The Explorers improved to 7-1.
“It’s sounds great,” Catholic coach Jeremy Sanfilippo said on the seventh win. “But it sounds even better to them because we are a young team this year. They’re doing well.”
The Explorers wasted little time in establishing a lead, as Hartrich scored at the 7:34 mark. The sophomore used his head to push the ball ahead of the pack approximately 35 yards from Granite City’s goal. He then dribbled the ball just a few feet from the goal and took a shot that landed in the back of the net.
“The first goal was a crucial goal, it gets the momentum going,” Hartrich said. “Especially with our fans out here.”
Marquette’s Zach Weinman added another goal at the 31:22 mark and the Explorers led 2-0 at halftime. The Warriors fired off five shots in the first half.
Granite City coach Kenny Jackson said Marquette’s front line players were pretty effective.
“They have a lot of good players up front, they attack the ball real hard up front when we’re trying to play the ball out of the backfield,” he said. “It’s something we talked about. Early in the game, when the game is still lively, you don’t want to take any chances in the backfield. You want to play the ball and build it up, put it in their end and see if the other team can bring it out and that’s how they got their first two goals. There wasn’t a lot of combination play. They just moved the ball forward.”
Sanfilippo said the chemistry between all positions made a difference.
“Our midfield was looking to play our forwards and our forwards were creating space for themselves,” he said. “But I think the defense was getting the ball out quickly.”
Granite City cut the Explorers’ lead to 2-1 with a goal from Lucas Rainwater at the 43:45 mark.
“We put the ball on their back line to see if they can play it out,” Jackson said on the second half. “They have a good front six that can run at the ball really hard but their back line, I don’t think they tried to build out. Most of the time when they got ball got down to the corner they just played it out for a deep throw in. So, if we could have exposed that earlier then maybe we would have had a different fortune.”
But the goal didn’t equal a momentum change, as Brendan Nickloy’s goal on a cross with 33:42 left to play gave the Explorers a 3-1 lead. Hartrich scored his final goal with 22:58 left to play. Hartrich took control of the a little more than half way down the field and dribbled approximately 20 yards from the goal and took a shot that landed in the back of the net.
The Warriors drop to 1-2-5 with the loss.
The Explorers will return to action at 6 p.m. Thursday with a road contest against Jacksonville. The Warriors will play Alton at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.