The St. Joseph-Ogden soccer team was scheduled to play Uni High on Thursday, Aug. 24. At a normal time for a mid-week start, around 4:30 p.m.
But the oppressive heat that permeated east central Illinois at the time caused the game to be postponed and a cool atmosphere instead materialized for the Spartans.
SJO hosted Uni High on Saturday night on the turf playing surface and under the lights at Dick Duval Field for the program’s first night home game.
The Spartans ended up losing 6-3 as the visiting Illineks pulled away in the second half, but a promising season is still in the works for SJO.
Here’s a roundup of the past two weeks for coach Chris Stevens’ program, which carries a 7-3 record into Monday’s match at Blue Ridge:
Racking up the wins — and goals
The Spartans won their first five matches of the season by a combined 37-6 margin, defeating Hoopeston Area (4-2 on Aug. 25 in Hoopeston), Iroquois West (9-2 on Aug. 26 in St. Joseph), Schlarman (9-0 on Aug. 28 in Danville), Meridian (9-0 on Aug. 30 in Argenta) and Argenta-Oreana (6-2 on Aug. 31 in Argenta.
The first loss happened for SJO on Sept. 2, with the Spartans losing a close 3-2 match to Warrensburg-Latham in the championship game of the Argenta-Oreana Tournament despite goals from junior Alex Acosta and sophomore Branson Pearman.
The Spartans responded well from the close loss to Warrensburg-Latham with a 9-1 home win last Monday against Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin. Sophomore Zach Harper tied a single-game school record with five goals, while teammates such as freshman Tyler Hess (two goals), Acosta (one goal) and senior Spencer Wilson (one goal) also got in on the fun.
Wilson contributed three assists and Acosta added two assists as Harper and Hess also distributed one assist apiece.
Competition increases amid busy slate
Saturday night’s loss to Uni High ended a busy week for the Spartans, with Wilson, Acosta and Harper each scoring a goal for SJO. Goalie Jack Slowikowski, a sophomore, ended up with 12 saves.
In between the rout of BHRA and the loss to Uni High, SJO had a convincing 6-0 home win against St. Thomas More last Thursday but lost 3-1 at home to Fisher/Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley last Tuesday.
Junior Logan Mills recorded a hat trick for SJO in the win against St. Thomas More, which doubled as the Spartans’ first Illini Prairie Conference match of the season. Hess also was a main factor, scoring two goals, and Acosta added the other goal. Wilson, Mills and Harper each had an assist as Slowikowski made six saves to earn the shutout.
The offensive outburst against STM was a welcome sight after an own goal by Fisher/GCMS was the only time SJO dented the scoreboard in the loss to the Bunnines. Slowikowski wound up with 10 saves.
After Monday’s match at Blue Ridge, the Spartans are set to continue on the road the rest of the week with a 4:30 p.m. match at Olympia on Thursday before a long trip to Chillicothe for a 10 a.m. Illini Prairie match against Chillicothe IVC this Saturday.