The Belleville West Maroons took an early 2-0 lead against O’Fallon Township Tuesday in their Class 3A Regional semifinal but the Panther’s fought back with a goal late in the first half and a second two minutes into the second half to tie the score 2-2. The game remained tied through the remainder of regulation and two ten minute overtime periods, leading to a penalty kick shootout to determine a winner. The Maroon’s, with forward Xavier Brown in goal for the shootout, won 5-4 on the seventh round of penalty kicks to advance to the Regional Final against Edwardsville on Saturday. The final round of PK’s, with the resulting BTHS celebration, can be seen in the video below.
PHOTO GALLERY – Belleville West v O’Fallon Township
The Maroon’s opening goal was scored by Sr Garrett Bass when he exploited miscommunication between Sr. goalie Grant Appel and his defender, with Bass poking the ball just past Appel in the 15th minute. Bass created the second goal in the 29th when he was able to turn to goal along the end line following his run down the right side (above). He drew a foul as he entered the box, leading to a penalty kick that was converted by Sr. forward Xavier Brown.
Appel was instrumental in keeping the game close with a pair of key saves on So. Brayden Easton to keep the game withing reach for the Panthers later in the first half. First on a break away that he came out for aggressively and blocked the shot and again, on a similar play he corralled a ball that was a bit beyond Easton. In between those two saves, O’Fallon Sr. Jake Koenig buried a penalty kick to narrow the margin to 1-2.
The tying goal came quickly in the second half with the Panthers coming out fast and earning a corner kick in the second minute. It was delivered on a rope to Jordan Ellis who got up to hit a headed ball past the defense.
The remainder of the game offered a reminder of why playoff soccer is so much fun. The urgency the teams showed was unflagging through the entire 100 minutes.
Belleville West (12-7-3) will play Edwardsville for the regional title at 10:00 am Saturday at Edwardsville. They lost to the Tigers 1-2 in their Southwest Conference match last week.