SOCCER: Allen nets four goals, Herscher bests Momence
HERSCHER — For 40 minutes, Herscher and Momence were locked in a battle of the bulls.
Then, Herscher flexed its muscles for the next 20 minutes, scoring three goals and capping the day with a 5-2 victory against Momence on Wednesday.
“We did not play our game at all in the first half,” Herscher coach Alan High said. “We let [Momence] dictate how to play. They simply went 1-2 in the middle, then sent it over the top, and we fell right into it. We switched things up at halftime, worked the ball much better and the results showed.”
Although this is only Momence’s second year of its soccer program, it has developed a persona of being a very physical, grind-it-out type of team.
That style vaulted Momence into a Class 1A regional final against Herscher last season, so the Tigers understood who they were going against.
Momence went dribble-for-dribble and seemed poised to breakthrough, considering the ball spent much of the first half on a Momence player’s foot.
Herscher had a chance when Jake Allen streaked up the field with only the goalie in his sight, but his shot went off the post and back into the field of play.
“I was thinking about shooting around the goalie, but then I slowed down a little bit,” Allen said. “I saw in the corner of my eye that the left side was open, and I hesitated before I shot. Honestly, it was a bad shot.”
That was the Tigers’ only shot-on-goal attempt in the first half, as Momence controlled the pace and kept the game scoreless into halftime.
“Letting Momence control the game reminded me of that regional game last season,” High said. “I asked the guys if anyone had fun in that half. That joy we play with was missing, but that’s how soccer is sometimes. We knew what Momence was going to bring to the table, and that’s why we scheduled them.”
After missing that open goal in the first half, Allen was determined not to miss again.
After seven more minutes of scoreless play, Allen saw enough and outraced Momence defenders on a throughball and struck the back of the net for a 1-0 lead. He notched his second goal of the game just eight minutes later that pushed the score to 2-0.
“We didn’t want to lose, especially at home,” Allen said.
Momence had its chance to get on the board with a penalty kick, but keeper Jack Holohan made the stop and immediately pushed the ball back into play. That hurry-up pace resulted in a penalty kick, and Allen completed the hat trick, which made it a 3-0 game.
After Momence scored two goals in four minutes off the feet of Alan Lopez and Jared Espino to put pressure on the Tigers, Allen responded with a header off a ricochet from a corner kick for his fourth goal before Jed Martin closed the door for good with a goal off a penalty kick with just seven minutes left.
“He turned it on. I told him during halftime that he gave [Momence] the first 20 minutes of the first half because he wasn’t playing like himself,” High said. “He’s worked incredibly hard during the offseason, and it showed, not just with his speed but the touch he has on the ball.”
Herscher is back at it again today at home against Westmont. Momence hosts Kankakee on Friday.