That’s how Illini Bluffs boys soccer coach Gerard Smith described his team’s 3-0 loss Saturday to Rock Island Alleman in the Pekin Invitational tournament.
Huge turnaround. Very, very deserved road win.
That’s how Smith described his team’s 1-0 win Tuesday over Macomb.
“We had a tremendous defensive performance against Macomb, led by Buddy Randle and Tanner Davis,” Smith said. “We kept Macomb at bay, forcing them into many long shots that went wide or over the goal.”
Still, Illini Bluffs goalie Cam Scott needed to make three brilliant saves in the second half to preserve the Tigers’ (3-2) slim lead.
Smith also praised Griffin O’Connor’s “tireless running” at midfield and the offensive work of Nolan Rademaker and Reid Sondgeroth.
The only goal of the game came on a penalty kick by Sondgeroth that got past Macomb goalie Carter Benson in the 10th minute.
“Reid slotted the shot into the right corner,” Smith said.
BLACKWELL WIN: Pekin’s Brody Blackwell won the race, but the Dragons boys cross country team fell 24-31 Tuesday to visiting Normal Community.
“Brody led all the way and finished strong,” said Pekin coach Cole Stoner. “I thought he was going to get caught, but he’s full of surprises.”
Blackwell was timed in 12:13 in the 2.3-mile race. Normal Community runners finished second, third and fourth behind him.
Pekin’s Seth Kasinger and Bennett Custer were fifth and seventh in 12:56 and 13:12, respectively.
“Seth and Bennett are getting into form,” Stoner said.
Stoner said freshmen Jonny Blanchard and Jackson Custer are battling with Jayden Tabb and Andrew Wolfe for spots in the Dragons’ top seven.
“I’m excited to see that competition through the season,” Stoner said.
PEKIN PASSING: The Pekin football team had more passing yards (166) than Oak Forest had offensive yardage (157) in last Friday’s 30-7 win.
Quite a feat for first-year quarterback Nathan Righi, who connected with junior receiver Sebastian Hill four times for touchdowns.
Righi said he had a mismatch with Hill’s speed on the outside, leading to a 55-yard connection for the first touchdown of the season. Hill credited the offensive line, consisting of five returning starters — Derek Brown at center with Ethan Trumpy and Dawson Coon on either side of him at guard and Chase Gann and Adam Kind at tackle.
“That was nice to see that we were able to connect on, the timing was perfect and Sebastian finishing the catch and running it in,” Pekin coach Doug Nutter said.
“Another one was a hitch to the outside and Sebastian made one guy miss and took it into the end zone. It was just nice seeing our kids stepping up and making the play when their number is called and then finishing the play by getting in the end zone, not being denied and winning that one-on-one match-up.”
Righi finished with 166 passing yards, connecting on 15-of-28 (53.6 percent) of passes. Hill, who has a 40-yard dash time of 4.6 seconds according to Nutter, caught seven passes for 96 yards. Returning running back Brayden Cruz rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries. (GMI)
SHEPPARD OUSTED: Tim Sheppard battled, but was eliminated from the U.S. Senior Amateur Championship in the first round match play on Monday.
The 36th-seed from East Peoria lost to No. 29 David Blichar 3 and 2 at Eugene (Ore.) Country Club.
Sheppard lost the first two holes with bogeys, won the third with a par, but bogeyed the fourth when his opponent from Allentown, Pa., birdied the 398-yard par-4. The pair parred the fifth, and Sheppard pulled level with two pars when Blichar bogeyed.
Sheppard, who qualified with a pair of 75s on Saturday and Sunday, went 1-up at the turn with a par on the 434-yard ninth. But he gave up the lead with a bogey on No. 11, and went 1-down when Blichar birdied the par-3 12th.
Sheppard, who was medalist and made it to the semifinals of the Illinois Senior Am this summer, double bogeyed No. 13 to let Blichar win with a bogey, and was closed out of the United States Golf Association’s national championship when Blichar birdied the 394-yard 15th and they each parred No. 16. (GMI)
TURKS SECOND: The Tremont boys golf team earned a second-place finish in the Bulldog Invitational at Country Hills Golf Course in Greenview on Saturday.
Tremont senior Tim Rice, who was a Class 1A sectional qualifier last season, finished first individually with a 6-over par 78.
Rochester won the four-team invitational with a 339 team total, while the Turks posted a 350. Pleasant Plains (358) finished third and Jacksonville Routt Catholic (359) was fourth. (GMI)
CHAMPION PANTHERS: One tournament, one championship for the Washington girls tennis team.
After dual meet wins over Limestone and Dunlap, the Panthers captured the title in the Springfield High Invitational on Saturday. Washington won the 15-team meet in decisive fashion, outscoring second-place finishers Alton and Moline, 53.5 to 43.
Washington got singles titles from senior Sierra Sonnemaker at No. 1 and sophomores Palmer Whiston at No. 5 and Alli Schellenberg at No. 6. Sonnemaker and Whiston also teamed to take first place at No. 2 doubles.
“I was pleased with the play of everybody, even those who didn’t get to the semifinal bracket,” Washington coach Gary Garver said. “They just went in there and competed like crazy, every one of them.” (GMI)
MORTON EIGHTH: Five area high school boys golf teams placed in the top 10 at the 14th annual Monmouth-Roseville Invitational on Saturday.
Peoria Notre Dame posted a 309 team total to finish in third among 20 teams, while Big 12 Conference foe Peoria Richwoods (321) placed sixth at par-71 Gibson Woods.
Dunlap (323) was seventh, Morton (330) finished eighth and East Peoria (351) came in 10th place to help represent the Mid-Illini Conference.
ND junior Mike Wales carded a 2-over 73 to finish in fourth place in the individual standings.
Richwoods senior Caleb Stevenson, Morton junior Connor Vicary and Peoria Christian senior Cole Cox each shot 75 to place in the top 10. Stevenson won the scorecard playoff to place fifth, while Vicary finished sixth and Cox claimed seventh.
Quincy Notre Dame sophomore Alex McCulla fired an impressive 7-under 64 with 10 birdies for the individual title for team champ QND. The Raiders shot 301, while second-place finisher Riverdale shot 305. (GMI)
EAGLES FLY: The Dunlap boys golf team earned a 149-153 win over Metamora in a Mid-Illini Conference dual match at Metamora Fields on Tuesday.
Dunlap senior Matt Leist and Metamora senior Jacob Oderwald each carded even par 35 to share medalist honors.
Sophomore Eli Lanser (36), freshman Ed Zhang (38) and senior Max Cook (40) rounded out the Eagles’ scores on the front nine.
Redbirds’ senior Colten Kahler shot 38, while senior teammates Hunter Lucas and DJ Smock each posted 40. (GMI)
NEW COACH: The Peoria Richwoods girls swimming and diving team has a new coach this season.
Alison Hammerton replaced Lynn Thompson, who has coached the Knights girls since the 1994-95 season. Thompson will only coach the boys team this year, while Hammerton takes over the girls coaching position.
Hammerton swam for Richwoods in the 1980′s under coaches Rich Clopper and Corky King. She also has two children, Sam and Will Swain, who swam under Thompson on the Richwoods boys team during the 2016-17 season.
“She and I (Lynn) share many of the same values and philosophies regarding team culture. I am fortunate to have Chris Lingenfelter and Nick Zerbonia, also former Richwoods swimmers, on the coaching staff this season,” said Hammerton. “Our team goals for this season include perfecting technique and improving times, and supporting one another in both academics and athletics. I want our swimmers and divers to enjoy their chosen sports for many years, so we focus on having fun, staying healthy, and working hard together.” (GMI)
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Steve Stein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve. GateHouse Media Illinois contributed to this report.