CARTERVILLE – Francisco Avarenga’s goal with 18 minutes left proved to be the game-winner as Murphysboro edged Carterville/Herrin, 2-1, for its third win in a row in a cross SIRR conference boys soccer game held at the Cannon Park Wednesday.

“We have a full complement of players finally,” said Murphysboro coach Mike Lydy. “We have a very young team and the first half of the season we were without five starters, so it took a little while to gel. Our defense has been really solid winning the game ball each game with the only goal we’ve given up during the streak is the penalty kick today. Carterville spreads the field well, so we had to pick and choose when we attacked, so I was proud of my boys being patient.”

Murphysboro (4-5-1) has lost only one game in its last six games after starting the season with four straight losses. 

“This was an end-to-end rec center type game,” said Carterville/Herrin coach Chip Lennox. “Their game is to slide through or slip a ball over the top because they got very strong strikers who are ready to receive the ball. What we’re trying to do is build up when we can and then get into the final third of the field once in a while by sliding through. We did get into our attacking third more in the second half. We played really well I thought.”

Once he got near the goal box, Avarenga made his move toward the goal, but was still outside the goal post when he took his shot. At the last second before he was forced too deep, his shot crossed in front of Red Devils goalkeeper Jeff Hayes and caught the inside of the far goal post for his second goal of the season.

“I was running and Alec gave me the ball, so I kept running and was left with not a normal shot, so I did what I could,” Avarenga said.

After a scoreless first half that saw just one shot on goal for both teams, Murphysboro took the lead 3:55 into the second half on Laith Alamleh’s third goal of the season off another pass from Stamm. The Red Devils finished with an 8-1 edge on shots on goal.

“I took it to the left side of the goalie," Alamleh said. "He initially came out at me, but then he backed up, so I just shot it past him. We’ve been playing pretty good, and we’re going to try to keep it up to keep our winning streak going.”

Carterville (4-7) was held to that one shot on goal, but tied the game at 1-1 two minutes and five seconds later when Daniel Erro, who normally plays goalkeeper, but was playing outside midfield in the game, was pulled down near the right line of the goalie box, setting up the penalty kick.

Erro calmly set up in front of Hayes, and after having to stand for a couple minutes, hit the ball high just clearing the crossbar for his fourth penalty kick goal of the season.

Murphysboro shrugged off the penalty kick and continued to press its attack on the Lions end of the field. Avarenga had a great scoring opportunity eight minutes later on an open shot from the right side, but Hayes made the save. Joshuan Rulfo had another good chance two minutes later, but his shot was deflected wide.

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