Blue Devils suffer third straight loss, fall to Maroons in key WB6 matchup


Moline defender Karinton Djikpe, left, and Quincy High School forward Josh Stupavsky battle to win a ball in the air during the first half of Tuesday's Western Big 6 Conference game at Flinn Stadium. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — So often in the wake of a loss, it becomes easy to play a game of “what if.”

For example, what if Josh Stupavsky’s shot 36 seconds into Tuesday night’s Western Big 6 Conference boys soccer game had hit the inside of the left post and kicked into the goal? Instead, it hit the post flush and kicked out.

Or what if Quincy High School had been able to control and clear Moline’s corner kick seven minutes into the second half? The Blue Devils headed the corner out of the box, but the Maroons controlled possession, took the ball to the corner and scored the game’s first goal off a cross that resulted in a header.

Or what if one of the opportunities in the final 10 minutes of regulation had resulted in a blistering shot on goal? The Blue Devils whittled a two-goal deficit in half on Andrew Brown’s goal with 22 minutes to play, but could never get the equalizer.

Without good answers for all of the “what ifs,” the Blue Devils were forced to deal with a 2-1 loss at Flinn Stadium and must seek help from another WB6 foe to repeat as league champion.

“The way we controlled possession early on and the way we were able to combine and create opportunities and get behind their back line opened things up for us,” said QHS coach Bridal, whose team suffered its third consecutive loss. “We had a lot of restarts and corner kicks, and we just didn’t get one in the back of the net early on. It could have been a different game if we did.

“It felt that way the first five minutes when we were all over them. We were really optimistic about how the night was going to turn out at that point. It just didn’t turn out that way in the end.”

The Maroons scored twice in the first 12 minutes of the second half to remain undefeated at 8-0. Moline and United Township are tied for the WB6 lead at 3-0 with Quincy a game behind. The Blue Devils are 2-6 overall with both victories coming in conference play.

“We have to start to bury some of those opportunities,” Bridal said. “I can’t fault our effort. I can’t fault the way they played with their hearts and went from the first whistle to the last. But we still need to finish opportunities at a higher rate.”

The Blue Devils controlled the first 20 minutes of the first half before the Maroons made a personnel adjustment that quelled Quincy’s attack.

“I started to see the flow of the game change a little bit,” Moline coach Rick Sanchez said. “So we were fortunate enough that we didn’t give up anything on the opportunities that they had. It was a matter of trying to grow through the process of the half.

“I felt comfortable with how we finished the half. And those were the things they understood, that the things we did toward the end of the half were what we needed to do at the start of the second half.”

And the Maroons did.

Seven minutes into the second half, Moline earned a corner kick that was headed out to the right wing by a Quincy defender. With no Blue Devils within 10 yards of the ball, the Maroons’ Sam Ramirez collected it, beat a defender to the corner and crossed the ball into the goal mouth.

The Maroons’ Ayden Caras-O’Neil headed the ball into the right side of the net for the 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, Cara-O’Neil scored when he took control on the left wing, drove into the box and snuck a shot between the post and QHS goalkeeper Lucas Shepherd.

The Blue Devils answered in the 58th minute when Evan Sohn played a corner kick into the box that went off the head of a Maroons defender and to the back post. Brown won it in the air and drove it into and off the goalkeeper for a goal with 22:28 to play.

Try as they might to push the pace, Quincy couldn’t get the equalizer.

“It’s hard when you lose a few games in a row,” Bridal said. “But we have to celebrate the successes that we had, and we did some good things. But we also have to come back tomorrow and talk about the things we need to improve on and take the next step.”

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