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Day, Durham and defense lead Southwestern girls’ soccer to first IHSA regional championship

Southwestern High School teammates Mac Day and Morgan Durham celebrate after working together to score a go-ahead goal late in an IHSA Class 1A regional championship at Carlinville May 13. Day and Durham each found the back of the net, assisting each other on both shots, and helped lead the Birds to their first ever regional title. Enquirer~Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.

Staunton and North Mac go down in semis

Enquirer Democrat Reporter

Many were already aware that the Southwestern High School soccer team was a well-oiled offensive machine. However, it was defense that won the Piasa Birds their first ever regional championship in school history May 13.

“We worked really hard all season for this,” said Southwestern head coach Tyler Hamilton. “This has always been our goal and finally being able to reach it feels really good.”

Without its leading scorer Ali Wilson in the lineup due to injury, Southwestern was faced with obvious reduction on that side of that ball. But, Mac Day and Morgan Durham shone to deliver in the clutch and keep the Birds in flight at crunch time.

Day, who was questionable for the title game after taking a blistering kick to the face against Litchfield, broke the ice just as she did three days prior with a clutch second half goal that was assisted by Durham. A couple minutes later, the two girls were at it again only with reversed roles. Durham took a cross pass from Day and fired another shot into the back of the net to ultimately seal the deal for the Birds and ‘get the monkey off of their back.’

“Being someone that put up 40 goals last year and 25 this year, Ali is a quality player and we knew things were going to be impacted the moment she went down,” Hamilton said. “Luckily, we had so many other players step up. Morgan and Mac stepped up big time and our defense and our goalkeeper kept us in it the entire time.”

“They played well and they played motivated,” Carlinville head coach Tim Johnson said out of respect to Southwestern. “I don’t think there’s anybody that can say they didn’t deserve it.”

Both Litchfield and Carlinville remained competitive throughout both contests, but the Southwestern defense wouldn’t flinch. The Birds braved an intense afternoon heat and took down the Panthers 1-0 to earn a berth in the championship game, where they halted a young bunch of Cavaliers that were riding high after hitting Hillsboro with an upset May 10. Jordyn Loveless made 12 saves in that game and was backed by goals from Annabelle Hulin, Evee Whitler and Marlee Whitler.

“I think we were playing close to our best soccer despite being banged up,” Johnson said of his Carlinville squad, which consisted of multiple athletes dealing with injuries themselves.

The shutout of the Cavaliers was Southwestern’s 12th of the year.

“Our offense obviously has been getting a lot of attention, especially early in the season, but we have always preached defense,” Hamilton said. “Because of that, we knew going into this game that we would be just fine if we could remain close.”
Southwestern improved to 15-6 overall and faced Quincy Notre Dame in Illinois High School Association Class 1A sectional action up in Quincy May 17.

Carlinville concluded the season 8-10-1.

Marlee Whitler was one of three players to score a goal for the Carlinville High School girls’ soccer team during the Cavaliers’ 3-0 regional semifinal upset of Hillsboro May 10. Enquirer~Democrat photo by Jackson Wilson.

Staunton and North Mac go down in semis

Both Staunton and North Mac went ‘one and done’ in the second round after receiving regional quarterfinal byes in the Quincy sub-sectional last week.

The Bulldogs lost at Greenville, 5-1, and North Mac suffered a 7-0 shutout against Pleasant Plains.
Staunton finished the year 8-10-2.

North Mac, which entered the postseason on a six-game winning streak, went 9-11-1.