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METROPOLIS — Columbia scored in the first minute and went on to win 8-1 to end Murphysboro’s historic second season on a windy Friday in the final of the Massac County Class 1A girls soccer regional.

“They are very good,” said Murphysboro coach Michael Lydy. “They got that early goal and that kind of put us off and set the tone for the rest of the game. Of the teams we played this season they are the first moving with consistency and speed across their entire team.”

Columbia (21-3) took the lead just 41 seconds into the game on a goal by Chloe Graff. Seven minutes and 15 seconds later, Kennedy Jones scored the first of three goals for the junior forward. Less than five minutes later, freshman Mary Gasaway scored her first career goal off a corner kick.

“The wind was a bit of a concern in the first half and I probably made a coaching error by giving up the wind in the first half,” Lydy said. “The long balls caused us trouble today. I was expecting better short possession, but they were hitting 40-50 yard passes to the forwards who were into our defense.”

Columbia didn’t stop there, with 15:03 remaining, freshman Kaleigh Wilhelm equaled Gasaway with her first goal and with 1:11 left, Reagan Mauch scored off a rebound to give the Eagles a 5-0 lead at the half.

“When I calmed them down and they started playing possession we started playing better,” Lydy said. “There were 15 minutes in the first half we played them even and I think we played them even in the second half.”

Jones scored her second goal 2:28 into the second half. Fae Harrell made it 7-0 with 30:55 remaining when Murphysboro was called for a handball inside the goalie box and the junior midfielder scored on the penalty kick.

With 13:56 remaining, Lillie Schaldemose was pulled down inside the box giving the Red Devils a penalty kick. Senior Arie Ciganovich made no mistake burying the ball into the right corner for her 11th goal of the season. Columbia held Murphysboro to just the one shot.

“I’m really proud of that goal,” Lydy said. “We were shutout last season by Columbia, so I feel we showed how much we’ve improved by not being shutout this year. We tried to get shots off, but their back four are tough.”

Jones then scored her fifth hat trick of the season and 49th goal of the season with 10:47 left in the game.

The Eagles won their fifth regional title in a row and 10th in the last 11 and will return home to host the sectional and face Roxana in the semifinals. Columbia eliminated the Red Devils last year in the regional semifinals by a score of 8-0.

“The girls came ready to play after a two and a half hour bus ride and they executed as we expected them to do,” said Columbia coach Jamey Bridges. “It’s been since April 19th we’ve been home, so it will be good to be back on our turf.”

Murphysboro (18-3-2) finished the season with a team record 18 wins and three losses along with setting new benchmarks for goals scored with 73 and goals against with 23.

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