BY SAM SCINTA WEEKLY REPORTER
One thing coaches want to do when preparing a team for a deep playoff run is to schedule as many games against top competition as possible. This allows the players to gain valuable regular season experience against upper tier opponents, which can prove invaluable once the State Playoffs open up.
O’Fallon Head Boys Soccer Coach Jason Turkington made it a point to challenge his 2016 squad with a challenging stretch of contests early on in the campaign, and this past week featured perhaps the toughest challenges yet.
The Panthers rebounded from heartbreaking 2-1 losses to Triad and Edwardsville by giving national power St. Xavier (Louisville) all they could handle in working a scoreless 0-0 tie in a game played at Saint Louis University High School.
Dropping the game to the Tigers put the Panthers at 0-1 to open Southwestern Conference play, making the late goal that much harder to swallow for OTHS. O’Fallon rallied to tie the score at 1 in the 69th minute only for Edwardsville to muster an opportunity of their own in taking the final 2-1 lead with just under four minutes to play.
“That was a great result [against St. Xavier] for us,” Turkington said. “We had a great 2nd half [against Triad] the other night and got better despite the late loss. It’s been an encouraging week despite the results, though.”
O’Fallon finished its gauntlet of four games in one week (including three games in three days) with maybe its best result in beating a very talented Springfield Glendale squad to round out the holiday weekend tournament at SLU High.
The Panthers continue Southwestern Conference play with a road test against the Kahoks of Collinsville at 6:30 on Tuesday. The contest goes final after this issue goes to print. O’Fallon then takes home field advantage into a bout against the conference rival Alton Redbirds on Thursday at 6:45 at the Panther Athletic Complex.