Several area soccer squads flocked to Herscher on Saturday for a jam-packed day of action at the Herscher Soccer Shootout, a day that ended with Bascom Jackson giving the Tigers a 1-0 victory against Grant Par.
The Tigers finished the day 2-0 after beating Somonauk earlier in the day and are now 5-1 on the season. Grant Park finished 0-2 on the day after losing 2-0 to Cornerstone Christian in their morning game. The Dragons now sit at 3-4.
Jackson’s goal, the game’s only score, came 20 1/2 minutes into the first half.
“My goal was a free-kick from a little outside the 18-yard box,” Jackson said. “I put the ball on frame, and my teammate did an excellent job of dummying it, and the ball bounced in.
“I give credit to my defensive back, Caleb Fleishhauer, for the goal.”
Goalkeeping captain Jack Holohan picked up two shutouts on the day and now has shutouts in three straight games for the Tigers. Holohan, who is no stranger to shutouts, has four on the young season after recording 15 last year.
For Tigers coach Alan High, that standard of excellence was not only something Holohan had Saturday but the team as a whole.
“I thought the kids played pretty well today,” High said. “We’re slowly working some guys back that are coming back from injuries. So, we’re still trying to sync things a little bit here. But that’s early-season stuff.
“Today, we came out and played against two opponents, Somonauk and Grant Park, two teams that play the game incredibly hard,” he added. “We know those teams have great kids that play hard and play clean. That’s who you want to play early in the year — teams that push you to make you better.”
After winning a regional championship last season, the Dragons returned some key defensive players this year but graduated most of their scorers from last year’s squad.
Grant Park head coach Chad Heldt, who is in his first season back as Dragons coach after coaching the team from 1998-2004, said his team still is searching for offensive production early in the season.
“So far this season, we’ve struggled to find the back of the net,” Heldt said. “If we can’t find it, it’s going to be hard to beat anyone right now.
“Hopefully, that changes soon. But we’ll keep working and keep fighting.”
The Herscher Shootout has seen growth during the years, and High said he was pleased with this year’s event.
“One of the officials this year just came up to me and told me how much fun he had at the shootout this year,” High said. “It’s fun to get all of these kids out here competing. We had teams from all over. Elgin, Decatur, Champaign, Bloomington and a school from up by Wisconsin and then some local teams. You get to see some teams you normally wouldn’t see. Not to mention, the weather was great. It couldn’t have gone much better.
“This event was something we talked about doing when we built our field,” he added. “And to see it come together and grow from eight teams to 12 has been outstanding. Overall, it’s just a fun day of soccer.”
Herscher is back in action at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at home against Lisle. Grant Park will travel to play rival Beecher at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.