URBANA — Monticello boys’ soccer largely dominated the first half of Thursday’s nonconference match.
The scoreboard didn’t show it.
Uni High retorted with its own hot stretch early in the second period.
Again, the scoreboard didn’t account for it.
When all was said and done, a 2-2 draw was shown at U of I Recreational Field No. 6.
Even if the result easily could’ve favored the Sages (4-0-1) or the Illineks (1-1-2) based on their respective spans of success.
“I’m thinking we’ll have to go back four years before we beat this team,” sixth-year Monticello coach Dan Burkybile said. “So for us to come out and get a tie here, yeah, we’re happy with that.”
The mood was decidedly less upbeat in the Uni High camp after new boss Joe Krehbiel’s squad watched a 2-0 lead evaporate in the matchup’s final 20 minutes.
“We have a lot to work on,” Krehbiel said. “We can’t seem to link up passes consistently throughout the whole game and maintain a level of intensity that we should be able to maintain.”
The previously unbeaten Sages came out hot on the road, producing three shots on goal and four corner kicks before the Illineks boasted one of either.
Burkybile credited a four-strong midfield, paced by juniors Jake Edmondson and Ethan Brakke, for stalling Uni High’s progress and keeping the ball squarely in Monticello’s corner for the first 44 minutes.
“There’s nothing to lose at this point — it’s a regular-season game,” Burkybile said. “This is probably the most athletic team we’ve had in a while, and they really challenge each other athletically.”
Illineks junior Lucas Wood and his pals could sense their own flatness as it occurred.
“We went into (the game) with a mentality that wasn’t as progressive and attacking as it should’ve been,” Wood said. “They can exploit any small mistakes that you make, and we were definitely made a victim of that.”
But Uni High junior goalkeeper Curtis Althaus kept his pals in the hunt. And his offense came alive in the first half’s waning stages.
A tic-tac-toe series of three passes concluded with junior Nabeel Bashir hitting senior Henry D’Angelo on the far side, and D’Angelo booted one past Sages senior netminder Rye Johnson in the 35th minute.
Wood then was tackled in the box and converted a penalty kick a short time later to hand the Illineks an unlikely edge.
For sophomore Dylan Ginalick and the rest of the Monticello athletes, that didn’t indicate the end of the world.
“We were still in the game,” Ginalick said. “We believe that we’re never out of the game. We can always come back and always have that mindset to stay in it.”
Uni High, however, carried over its momentum after the break and outshot the Sages 2-0 through the second frame’s inaugural 18 minutes.
“We had a good period of connecting on a lot of passes,” Wood said. “... And then slowly we unraveled back to this mistake-riddled (play).”
Ginalick was the main beneficiary.
Monticello senior Ethan O’Linc in the 58th minute clubbed a long free kick directly at senior teammate Andrew Ellison.
Ellison headed the ball to Ginalick, who went short side on Althaus to halve Monticello’s deficit.
Minutes later, a mad scramble in Althaus’ box left the goaltender out of position, and a loose ball found Ginalick’s foot once more.
He described himself as “lucky” on both scoring efforts, but Ginalick wasn’t about to complain.
“It feels pretty good since we’ve had a losing streak against Uni,” he said. “It feels pretty good that we got a tie. Hopefully next year we get a win.”
The Illineks will seek more of those moving forward after piling up 16 of them a season ago.
“Most of these guys were not starting varsity last year,” Krehbiel said, “so I just feel, like any new team, it takes a few games, at least, to ... start to play like we should be playing.”