HARRISBURG – Camden Beliveau’s goal halfway through the second half proved to be enough for Freeburg to eliminate Murphysboro, 1-0, in the semifinals of the Harrisburg Class 1A boys soccer regional Wednesday.
“When you’re down by one you bring everybody, but the kitchen sink up, so I actually brought another defender up to play offense, but they did a good job clearing the ball and bettered us by one goal today,” said Murphysboro coach Michael Lydy. “We had our chances in the first half just the ball didn’t roll the right way. The goalie had two or three at his feet, and he was fumbling with it. We just didn’t have anybody there to finish. It was a good fought game. Both teams kept good possession, both defenses played well and both teams did well on set plays.”
Freeburg (14-10) advances to the regional final for the sixth straight year and will face Breese Mater Dei, who eliminated Harrisburg, 2-1, in the opening match and Massac County, 2-1, in the other semifinal.
“This was a hard fought game,” said Freeburg coach Andrew Thompson. “They are very well coached. From my perspective their game plan looked like that they were in a counter-attack situation. And boy, it’s dangerous. They had a little trouble finishing today, but that stuff comes and goes. But they certainly moved the ball and were creative on their wings.”
Murphysboro (11-12-2) came into the match on a hot streak having gone 5-2-1 in its last eight games. The Red Devils out shot the Midgets six to five, including holding Freeburg to no shots on goal in the first half.
“We had only given up four goals in the last eight games before today, so defensively we’ve been playing very well,” Lydy said. “We played a very competitive schedule this year with a number of 3A teams and we played a 3A tournament. Overall the team started to gel at the end of the season, and we’ll miss our seniors.”
Beliveau notched his sixth goal of the season after Murphysboro had two good scoring chances seven minutes prior. The first came off a long free kick by Marco Gaona that Midget goalkeeper Greg Cockrell had to make a save on. The second was four minutes later on a shot by Joshuan Rulfo on a corner kick that was deflected over the top of the net by a defenseman.
With 21 minutes remaining, Murphysboro was called for a foul about 10 feet inside the mid-stripe line and five feet inside the field of play on the right side. Bly Range set up to take the kick with his teammates setting up down the field in front of Red Devil goalkeeper Alec Stamm.
“Bly delivers those balls for us if we’re in the attacking third, and he is always pinpoint with his deliveries,” Thompson said. “Cam got up there and got his body into position and knocked it right in the corner. It was beautiful.”
Range kicked the ball on a high loop finding Beliveau, the shortest player on the field, near the left post.
“I didn’t think it was going to come to me whenever it did,” Beliveau said. “I just jumped up and hit with my head. This was my first header goal.”
Murphysboro had two good chances in the last six minutes to tie the game. With 5:32 remaining, Blake Niesporek made a run down the right side, but Cockrell made the save.
Freeburg was called for a foul just outside the goal box with 3:54 left. Gaona took the kick, but his shot was deflected.
Murphysboro had one final chance with a minute left with a throw-in in the Midget side of the field, but the Freeburg defense didn’t allow the Red Devils to get possession of the ball. The Midgets cleared the ball out of their own zone and ran the clock out.