MARION — In a battle for second place of the South Seven Conference, Jalesa Watts gave Carbondale the lead in the first half and Estefania Rodriquez tied the game for Marion in the second half in a girls soccer game that ended in a 1-1 tie on Tuesday at Wildcats Stadium.
Belleville Althoff (14-3-4) had already won the conference title with a perfect 4-0 record, having beat Marion 5-1 and Carbondale 3-2, along with taking care of Centralia and Mount Vernon by 12-0 scores. The tie allowed Marion to hold onto second place with a 3-1-1 record and Carbondale to remain in third place with a 3-2-1 record.
“We don’t play overtime unless we talk about it before the game and tonight we never had a conversation about it,” said Marion coach Jaime Clark-Verbeck.
Carbondale (8-8-1) had a great scoring chance just 70 seconds after the kickoff when Faith Golz stole the ball from a Marion defender just outside the goal box, but Madison Goodley got her hands on the shot and pushed off to the left side where her defense controlled the rebound.
“Missed opportunities was the key of the game,” said Carbondale coach Ortez Davis. “They had some missed opportunities late in the game, but I feel if we had finished the several opportunities we had early in the game we would have been up by several goals and they wouldn’t have been putting on that kind of pressure.”
For the next 14 and a half minutes, Carbondale continued to pressure the Wildcats in their own end, but Goodley was able to grab the ball twice before the passes were able to find an open player.
With 24:20 remaining in the first half, Marion had their first great scoring opportunity when the Carbondale outside defender was called for a foul near their left sideline.
Paige Newlin took the free kick and instead of passing the ball drilled the ball directly at Carbondale’s goalkeeper Ella Summerlin near the left goal post and the freshman almost let the ball get between her legs, but she got enough of it to keep it out and the Terrier defense cleared the ball away.
Thirty-six seconds later, one of Marion’s top goal scorers, Blake Clark, suffered a possible knee injury and had to be carried off the field and the junior didn’t return. Once play resumed, Aisha Ruperto got behind the Marion’s defense, but her shot was high and wide to the right.
“With Blake going out — she’s been such a force up top with 42 goals —we’ve lost some confidence considering we lost Lauren Kadela in the back in a tie with Murphysboro last week,” Clark-Verbeck said. “At halftime we talked about how they could do if they play feet and combine and build up passes and not play scared. I think they did a great job it in the second half with a lot of opportunities.”
Carbondale continued to dominate the play until Watts took a pass down the middle and split the defense. The senior beat Goodley for her fourth goal of the season with 14:52 remaining in the first half.
“Macey Davis kicked it to me and after I settled it, I flicked the ball, leaving one on one with the goalie,” Watts said. “I kept remembering the coaches telling us to pick a corner, so I did and shot.”
Carbondale opened the second half with back-to-back scoring chances in a 38 second span four minutes in, but Goodley stopped both shots.
At the 58:08 mark, Folz possessed the ball to the right of Goodley and made a crossing pass to Ruperto, who got the shot off, but when a defender blocked the shot the ball ricocheted directly to a wide open Watts, but her shot missed a few inches wide of the left goal post.
Marion (15-4-3) almost tied the score 2:12 later when Newlin got open off a pass from Marissa Basi, but her shot went wide right.
Marion continued to hold the play in the Carbondale end until Jessica Schuetz got possession of the ball in the right corner. She moved in drawing an inside defender, but instead of taking the shot, she passed to Newlin on the other side of the net. She then passed to Rodriguez, who took a severe angle shot that looped over the head of Carbondale's Kristyn Kalert and found the right corner of the net to tie the score with 22:24 remaining.
“One of my players was going to shoot it, but she took a touch too much, so I just kind of finished it from there,” Rodriguez said. “Paige kept moving towards me and then passed it to me. My shot just curved over the goalie just enough to get in the back.”
Fifty-eight seconds later, Rodriguez got open on a break, but this time her shot sailed wide left. Carbondale had two good scoring chances three minutes later, but shots by Watts and Folz were too high.
With 13:12 remaining Nicole Szidik and Alexis Basi set up Marissa Basi, but Kalert made the save, and two minutes later, Kalert came up big again on another shot by Marissa Basi.
In the final six and a half minutes of the game, Marion had four chances to take the lead, but in each case the shots went wide.