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By Anthony Jones
On Apr. 4, Triad girls soccer found themselves in unfamiliar territory.
The Lady Knights had just dropped a 1-0 battle with Waterloo, causing them to fall outside of first place in the conference for the first time in the twenty-first century. Triad also dropped to 3-5 overall with that loss.
All of that now stands as a distant memory after the Lady Knights won the league outright last week.
Triad, who entered the week with a 7-1 MVC mark, began the week with a May 2 hosting of Civic Memorial. The Eagles entered with a 13-5 overall record and a 5-2 league mark.
The home side controlled most of the early play, but the story of the first half was near goals. Triad’s first came when Caty Burton connected with the inside of the far post, but the ball rang out and away from the net. London Looby appeared to score for the Knights in the final seconds of the half, but officials conferred and ruled time had run out prior to the score.
The 0-0 tie was short lived however as the scoring floodgates opened early in the second half.
Looby found the net for the first time that counted less than a minute into the second to push Triad ahead 1-0. Alina Ayran converted a penalty kick three minutes later and Looby scored her second in short order to push the Knights ahead 3-0.
“CM is dangerous.They’ve got some players who can go and they are very gifted with scoring fast. For us to come out in the second half and to get that one in the box and get a penalty kick, I think that kind of set the tone,” Coach Matt Bettlach contextualized his team’s fast start in the second half.
With 27 minutes remaining, Burton added another for a 4-0 advantage. Goals from Emma Correale and Taylor Self contributed to a 6-0 victory for the Lady Knights. Tavey Duncan recorded the shutout for Triad in the net.
The game also served as senior night for the team’s 11 eldest players: Jackie Barkus, Caty Burton, Tavey Duncan, Laney Harshany, Alexa Holley, Kailey Peterson, Abby Schaft, Taylor Self, Karen Speer, Torie Wongler and Gabbie Wood.
Bettlach remarked of the group, “It’s a fun group. They’re good kids and they’ve really bought into the program. Some of the seniors played JV last year and they’ve come up and they’ve really latched on to what we’re trying to do. It’s evident in their smiles.”
Another key MVC contest, Mascoutah at Waterloo, that finished earlier in the night also held significance for Triad. The Indians pulled off a 2-1 upset after penalty kicks, which meant Triad’s victory clinched a share of the league title.
The following evening, Triad traveled to Jersey for a chance to win sole possession of the conference.
“It means a lot and that’s because of the tradition with conference. Our conference has gotten strong, so this is big,” the team’s coach said of the opportunity to win the league outright.
With a 10-0 victory, the Lady Knights clinched the title in dominant fashion. Ella George, Ayran, Wongler and Schaft all scored twice in the victory. Hannah Sparks and Barkus added on the other scores.
Triad closed out their regular season with a 1-1 draw against the Collinsville Kahoks.
The Southwestern Conference visitors scored first in the matchup, as Jordan Gary netted a pass from Aubrey Johnson with eight minutes left in the opening period. This tally stood as the only legitimate chance for either side in the first 40 minutes.
Triad found better success at attacking the net in the latter period, but it would take most of the half to actually find the net. Their game scoring tally came with two minutes to play when Harhany sent a long ball across midfield that Ayran chased down and sent past the keeper.
The Lady Knights finish the regular season with an 11-7-3 record and a 5-0-1 mark in their most recent matches. They begin their postseason on May 16 at home against Jersey for a regional semi-final.