Effingham Daily News
Tuesday afternoon belonged to Pietro Lentini.
Carlinville’s sophomore forward notched three goals against Teutopolis in the semifinals of the Class 1A St. Anthony Sectional, leading his team to a 4-0 victory.
Lentini scored his first goal barely a minute into the game, taking a pass from Kyle Levan and putting it into the back of the net.
Then, approximately 10 minutes into the game, Lentini scored again, putting the Wooden Shoes in a big hole, out of which they could not climb.
After Lentini’s second goal, the Wooden Shoes did settle down defensively and began working their offense a little bit more effectively.
But Carlinville goalkeeper Andy Pruitt made several spectacular saves, including one on a shot by Ryan Westendorf late in the second half, to ensure the shutout for the Cavaliers.
“We definitely had some chances on their defense,” Teutopolis coach Dustin Jansen said. “We were beating their defense, but that keeper is tough back there. He was brutal for us.”
He added that he was very happy with his team’s overall effort, especially after the first 15 minutes.
“You take that 10-15 minutes out of the first part of the game and I wouldn’t change anything,” he said. “(Carlinville is) a first class team — they are very fast and they have very good ball handling. They made us step up our game.”
After the early onslaught, the Shoes settled into a rhythm, amassing six shots, four of which were on goal.
“About that 15-minute barrier, we stepped it up,” Jansen said. “We started making counter-attacks, we started possessing the ball, we got up to their speed — the whole nine yards.”
Lentini scored his third goal with 12:57 remaining in the second half, and Levan scored Carlinville’s other goal shortly thereafter to put the game out of reach.
But, despite the lopsided loss, Jansen said his team has a lot to be proud of this season, most notably winning a regional championship the year after losing several key seniors.
“It always hurts losing,” he said. “But when you can lose to a team like Carlinville, playing the way we played today, you can hang your head high.”
Jansen added that he was very pleased with the efforts of goalkeeper Seth Belford, who had never played soccer until this year.
“He had some excellent saves today and kept his composure, even when he was scored on,” Jansen said.
After the game, Belford was sitting by himself on the bench when Jansen came over to offer some words of encouragement.
“He gets very down on himself when he feels he let the team down,” Jansen said. “So I told him we couldn’t have done it without him. He stepped it up all through the year, gradually getting better. He was our best option, and not just our best option — he was a dang good option.”