---- — CHARLESTON — Effingham and Charleston took an early Red Pool lead at the Charleston Red and Gold Invitational tournament Wednesday, downing Mattoon and Teutopolis, respectively.
The Flaming Hearts shut out Mattoon 2-0 at Sister City Park in the tournament opener, and Charleston took down a game Teutopolis squad 1-0 on their home turf at Charleston High School.
Games were played with a running clock and two thirty-minute halves.
The winners will face off Friday at 4 p.m., with Effingham and Charleston playing at the high school. Teutopolis and Mattoon will look to grab their first tournament win each at 4 p.m. at Sister City Park.
Katz leads Hearts in shutout
It certainly didn't take long for junior Tyler Katz to make his mark in the Flaming Hearts' opener against Mattoon.
Just seconds into the contest, Katz received a cross on the left side of the field with nothing but space in front of him, and fired a rocket off his left foot past Will Hopkins in net 50 seconds in to the game.
Mattoon never recovered, falling 2-0 to Effingham as Katz added a second goal in the second half.
"It's a really good feeling just to get one or even if someone else scores, but to get two is one of the best feelings in the world," Katz said. "Mattoon's always one of our biggest rivals... and we came out shooting."
For the Hearts, coming off their best season in school history with 13 wins, it was the kind of fast start coach Aaron Witges was looking for.
It was maybe even too fast for the coach to comprehend.
"We're going through scenarios, talking with kids on the bench, I turn around and Tyler rips it home. I kind of had a hard time believing that happened that quickly," he said. "That's probably the first and only time we played the ball all the way across in front of the net from right to left."
After the early Hearts goal, play became much more back and forth, with both teams getting their chances in offensively.
Katz found the back of the net again with 9:58 remaining, using some fancy footwork to deke his defender and go low left side for his second goal.
"I've been working a lot on my footwork and speed in the offseason, I thought I'd try it out in the first game, and it worked," he said.
While Frank Kasdorf posted a clean sheet in his first game in goal, replacing last year's goalie Dalton, he had plenty of help defensively.
Sophomore Andrew Bingham made his presence known to the Mattoon strikers, warding off a goal midway through the first half with some strong bodying. He also stepped up on a crucial corner kick in the second half, making his way to the ball before the Green Wave could and clearing it.
Witges said the sophomore earned his way in to the starting lineup as a defender, and despite wanting to play offense did what Witges thought was best for the team.
"He said 'Okay coach, whatever you need,'" Witges said. "That's the kind of response you want as a coach from any player. He played a great game."
Effingham (1-0-0) earned three points with the tournament win, and will face Charleston Friday at 4 p.m. for the Red Pool lead.
Effingham 1 1 2
Mattoon 0 0 0
29:10 Effingham goal, Tyler Katz (Phil Knight assist), 1-0
09:58 Effingham goal, Tyler Katz, 2-0
Belford shines in Wooden Shoes loss
Charleston found the back of the net with 25:30 remaining when Taylor Garrett's cross was knocked in by Elliott Griffin past Teutopolis goalie Seth Belford.
The 1-0 lead would hold up, but coach Dustin Jansen had nothing but praise for his senior keeper.
"Seth, player of the game by a long shot," he said. "He had so many good saves out there, he kept us close."
The game was tight all throughout, but could have been worse if not for Belford and his five saves.
Jansen singled out a save midway through the first half when the senior snared a scremaing kick out of the high corner of the net.
"He had such a remarkable save ... from 25 yards out, it was a missile shot, he snagged that thing," Jansen said. "It was the best save of his career."
Teutopolis had a few chances in the second half, missing out a cross in front of the net midway through the frame. With less than two minutes to play, the Wooden Shoes had a number of chances on a loose ball in front of the net, but multiple headers couldn't find their way into the net thanks to some solid Charleston defense.
Charleston also had a few chances, but were warded off for Belford or went wide.
It was a tough loss for the Wooden Shoes, who fall to 1-1-0 after downing Taylorville 4-1 in their Monday opener. Jansen said he was more frustrated than mad, and that was because his squad in the game all along.
"We had some excellent runs," he said. "We were right there, we were doing so good, we just couldn't close the deal."
Teutopolis looks to get in the win column at the Red and Gold Invitational Friday afternoon at 4 p.m., when they take on the Mattoon Green Wave at 4 p.m. at Sister City Park.
Teutopolis 0 0 0
Charleston 0 1 1
25:30 Charleston goal, Elliott Griffin (Taylor Garrett assist), 1-0