Maryville soccer kept its conference hopes alive after a critical victory against St. Pius X late in the MEC season schedule.
When the Spoofhounds (9-3-1) took the field against the Warriors (3-9-2) for the final time in regular season play, it was no ordinary game for coach Dale Reuter and his squad. With a win, Maryville moved one step closer to securing a stake in the conference title for just the second time in program history.
After two quick goals by the Warriors early in the first half, it didn’t look promising for the ‘Hounds as they had their backs against the wall, down 2-0. Senior midfielder Thomas DiStefano helped turn some of the momentum back in Maryville’s favor after scoring one himself with time running down in the first half. The Spoofhounds went into the locker room down 2-1 knowing a conference title was on the line.
The second half of this soccer match is when things started to click for the Spoofhounds. DiStefano rattled off three more goals for Maryville and fellow senior midfielder Brenden Ware contributed with a goal of his own. The ‘Hounds shutout St. Pius in the second half, denying any opportunities the Warriors had to score and found themselves winning the match by a final score of 4-2.
“The boys looked like they forgot how to play soccer in the first half,” Reuter said. “I reminded the boys at halftime where they have come from and where they could be, and I think it ignited the fire that fueled the second half.”
The emotion and excitement from the win over St. Pius carried over and helped the Spoofhounds gain another conference victory in their win over Savannah on Oct. 15. Junior midfielder Jaden Hayes led the way with three goals while DiStefano added to his own resume, adding another goal to his tally. Maryville allowed only one goal during the entirety of the match, winning 4-1.
“It was a game that fueled our confidence level heading into the Lafayette match,” Reuter said. “I’m proud of the boys’ drive and grit to step on the gas and get the job done.”
With only one more match before the 2018 Class 2 District 16 tournament starts, the Spoofhounds are preparing to play their best soccer of the season. On Oct. 18, Maryville hosts Lafayette (2-12), who hasn’t posed to be much of a threat for the ‘Hounds throughout much of conference play. But, this match has a much deeper meaning.
While the game on Oct. 18 might be overlooked as a promising win for the Spoofhounds, Maryville and Lafayette will meet in the first round of the do-or-die district tournament Oct. 23. The ‘Hounds go into the match ranked as the No. 1 seed and the team to beat during the tournament.
“We need to play this game just like any other,” senior Will Mattock said. “We know what’s at stake, but we need to shut that out until the 80-minute horn sounds. Then we can celebrate.”
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Maryville had already clinched a share of the Midland Empire Conference title, which is not the case. The Missourian regrets the error.