Comets’ run ends at Newman

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 15, 2008


Sports Editor

Two seasons removed from a Division III state championship, Newman entered Wednesday’s match with St. Charles determined to not let its season end the same way it did in 2007 – a loss in the state quarterfinals.

The Comets had designs on a semifinals appearance for themselves though, and a battle of wills left the two teams deadlocked in a scoreless tie at the half.

But while St. Charles’ vaunted defense has been its calling card all year long, it couldn’t keep the Greenies scoreless forever. Newman forward Jeffery Hampton scored three minutes into the second half, the first of Newman’s four goals. Newman defeated St. Charles, 4-0, at Newman.

Newman advances to the state semifinals, where it will host St. Louis in a rematch of the 2006 semifinal game where St. Louis defeated Newman 1-0.

“In the first half, we weren’t playing our game,” said Newman Coach Matt Jacques. “In the second half, we settled down, became more focused, and established what we were trying to do.”

It ends the most successful run in St. Charles’ postseason history, as Wednesday’s game marked the Comets’ first trip to the quarterfinals.

St. Charles Coach Rick Woodroof said that Newman hit the field in the second half like a different team.

“We played with them in the first half. But after that, they adjusted, and we didn’t,” he said.

After a scoreless first half where each team had a number of chances in opposing territory, Hampton’s goal opened up things considerably.

In the match’s 67th minute, Newman’s (15-6-2) Matt Savoie added a second goal to make it 2-0, in the process forcing St. Charles’s (13-11) hand to become more aggressive offensively.

That left some lanes open, and Newman took advantage in the 65th minute, after the Greenies’ David Martin scored after a sharp cross pass from Hampton, leaving him one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

Finally, in the 72nd minute, Newman’s Michael Harris added a fourth and final goal.

A rash of injuries on both sides kept each team substituting throughout much of the first half. Perhaps most damaging to St. Charles was the loss of defender Zack Matus, who was unavailable to return in the second half.

“That made us have to reorganize our defense,” said Woodroof. “And once we got a goal down, we had to press offensively.”

On the other hand, the return of senior Chris Ilski was a major lift for the Comets. Ilski, who suffered a severe head injury in a district contest with Riverside in January, was thought to have been out the year, but returned for this contest.

“I didn’t expect him back, but I thought it gave us a real fighting chance tonight against a real talented group,” said Woodroof.

Ilski said that he couldn’t stay away from the action in his last chance to play at St. Charles.

“I was sacrificing my body to try and get the win,” said Ilski. “This is the game I love, and I had to come back for at least this one game.”