Reignited and it feels so good: Second-half effort carries QHS soccer team to WB6 victory


United Township defender David Nelson, left, clears the ball before Quincy High School's Evan Sohn can challenge him during the first half of Tuesday's Western Big 6 Conference game at Flinn Stadium. | Matt Schuckman photo

QUINCY — Garrick Homan whole-heartedly believes effort and intensity can be contagious.

So he’s embraced the role of human dynamo off the bench for the Quincy High School boys soccer team.

“I want to be that positive spark to keep everyone up and reignite us,” Homan said.

Tuesday night, with the Blue Devils trailing United Township 2-1 in the second half of a Western Big 6 Conference game at Flinn Stadium, Homan was one of several seniors who helped reenergize, reorganize and reinvigorate the attack.

Carter Venvertloh scored two goals eight minutes apart — one off a Homan assist — to rally the Blue Devils for a 3-2 victory that ended a three-game slide and kept them in the WB6 title chase despite last week’s loss at Moline.

“With lack of effort in some games, things got bogged down,” Homan said. “That half is the spark we need to realign our season. That half is exactly the intensity we need to get this thing going.”

The Blue Devils (5-4, 3-1 WB6) opened the season winning four of their first five games before a one-goal loss at Quincy Notre Dame was followed by a second-half meltdown in a 5-2 loss to Moline. The Blue Devils led 2-1 with 14 minutes to play in regulation and trailed by three goals six minutes later.

A 3-1 loss to Springfield on Monday in the IC Shootout in Jacksonville made it a three-game skid, but the loss the Moline stuck in the Blue Devils’ craw more than the others.

“Oh, my gosh, huge, huge,” Venvertloh said of the ability to rebound. “We kind of got down on ourselves after that Moline loss. It’s tough being up 2-1 and you end up losing. In this game, we showed some resiliency and some belief. We know what we’re capable of now.”

First, the Blue Devils had to have their backs put against the wall.

Venvertloh gave QHS a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute when he scored off a Boen Brockmiller assist, only to see that advantage morph into a one-goal disadvantage in a 92-second span. The Panthers’ Austin Devilder and Andrew King scored in the 25th and 27th minutes, respectively.

The effort and intensity dropped for a stretch of the first half that proved costly.

There weren’t significant dips in either in the second half.

“That’s the first time this season where we’ve seen the kind of energy people can bring to the field,” Venvertloh said. “You can see a big difference in the play we’ve been playing and how we just played right there. The second half, specifically, was just great effort.”

Venvertloh scored his second goal with 26 minutes remaining and buried the game-winning goal off Homan’s assist eight minutes later. The Blue Devils stayed stingy thereafter to preserve the lead.

“We talked about using this game as a stepping stone,” QHS coach Ron Bridal said. “We did it the first 15 minutes, but didn’t finish out the half. We came back and challenged them going into the second, and they came out and really responded. That’s the kind of effort that we’re going to need from here on out if we’re going to continue to build and work toward something special.”

This was the Blue Devils’ lone home game in an eight-game stretch and they will play only two home games during a 13-game stretch.

“The effort and the intensity were certainly there in the second half,” Bridal said. “We’ve seen glimpses of that. But tonight, over those final 40 minutes, it really showed what they are capable of. And they are holding themselves accountable for that kind of effort.”

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