Newton Eagles win first regional championship

Chet Piotrowski Jr. photo/Piotrowski StudiosNewton’s Ross Farley heads the ball to the Hillsboro goal between the Hilltoppers’ Tyler Watson and Joe Mattson during their Class 1A Altamont Soccer Regional final Friday evening at Altamont HIgh School.

The Newton Eagles defeated Hillsboro 4-0 Friday at the IHSA Class 1A Altamont Regional Championship, taking home such honors for the first time in the program’s history.

“It feels great,” said Newton head coach Matt Creadore. “These guys have earned it, especially the seniors, who were juniors last year. It’s well-earned and we wanted it bad.”

Early on however, the game was far from a usual Newton game.

Newton was getting chances at goal, but good defense from Hillsboro was able to cut out the chances or force the Eagles to take shots at such angles that had little probability of going in.

The score remained tied at zero for most of the first half, until Eagles midfielder Toni Tortella dribbled by three Hillsboro defenders into the box, switched the ball to his left foot and took the shot that bulged the back of the net to put the Eagles up 1-0 heading into halftime.

“The way that he carried the ball through the midfield was the biggest thing for us,” Creadore said. “We knew that they were going to leave space in the middle and that he had to be our guys in the middle all of the time and he did that.

“He was serving them up and getting good shots. He executed the offense perfectly.”

From there, the Eagles offense looked more relaxed. Coupled with the fact that Hillsboro now had to play more aggressive, the Eagles took advantage, getting in behind the defense like they normally do.

That was illustrated just four minutes into the second half, as Tortella scored his second goal of the day after drilling a shot at the Hillsboro goalie. The keeper had initially made the save, but the shot was too hot for him to handle, slipping through his hands and dribbling into the net to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

“They were packing the defense on us heavy,” Creadore said. “So we started working it up the sides and in instead of straight at them like we do normally.”

Hillsboro was almost bale to cut the deficit in half after getting the ball inside the Newton 18. But after the ball pinballed around the box for what seemed like an eternity, the Eagles were able to clear the chance.

Newton’s goalkeeper Noah Wright played great, making the right decisions as to when to come out and play aggressively, as well as knowing when to stay back and let his defense play in front of him, allowing him to earn the clean sheet.

“He’s aggressive anyways, so we were a little worried tonight that while being aggressive, he would come out and slip,” Creadore said. “Some of those plays he made is what helped him and us keep the clean sheet.”

The Eagles were able to put the game away thanks to a pair of goals from Ross Farley, the first coming with 24 minutes to go, and the last one with nine to go, putting the final touches on the game on the way to a regional championship victory.

Up next, the Eagles will hit the road and travel to Raymond-Lincolnwood to play the winner of the IHSA Class 1A Riverton Regional. They will either take on host team Riverton, or Sacred Heart-Griffin, the team that defeated the Eagles in the regional championship last season.