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Cardinals rally to capture battle of unbeaten teams

Mineral Area forward Shay Carey (11) watches his rebound shot for a tiebreaking goal during second half men’s soccer action against St. Charles on Saturday in Park Hills. Matt King,

PARK HILLS – The Mineral Area men’s soccer team controlled another second half on Saturday, just as it has throughout the longest unbeaten streak in four seasons of existence.

The Cardinals were rewarded for crashing the net and generating second chances, and secured a massive result in their chase for an elusive MCCAC championship.

Shay Carey netted a tiebreaking goal in the 79th minute after Alex Wilkinson scored the equalizer, and Mineral Area upset 10th-ranked and previously perfect St. Charles 2-1.

Josh Wilson made five saves in six chances, and defender Chase Corbin headed a final cross out of play as the last few seconds ticked away.

Mineral Area forward Orran Mushet is upended on a sliding tackle by St. Charles defender Owen Hardy (5) during second half men’s soccer action on Saturday in Park Hills. Matt King, (

Mineral Area (8-0-1, 2-0-1) was officially outshot 9-8, but most of its scoring opportunities were of prime quality. The host squad had a 6-3 edge in corner kicks.

St. Charles (8-1-0, 1-1-0) won several possession battles along the sidelines in the early minutes, and eventually struck after sending a flurry of balls toward the box.

Jack Schwering fired high after two previous touches were blocked by MAC players Lucas Clarke and Oliver Brennan. But an ensuing threat opened the scoring in the 10th minute.

Samuel Hancke tracked down a wide pass to retain possession near the end line, and found himself open from about 15 yards away to fire a loose carom past Wilson.

The Cougars pushed to extend their lead as Henry Carter attacked an opening from the right side, but Wilson protected the near post for a save before the rebound was tapped wide.

Mineral Area may have actually pulled even in the 38th minute after Orran Mushet smoothly won the ball off a header pass from Leo Mendez Gonzalez.

Mushet passed back to Mendez, whose 30-yard shot glanced off keeper Kazuyuki Matsumoto and floated toward the goal line. With no sideline official in position for a definitive look, a retreating Matsumoto was awarded the save to keep the margin at 1-0.

St. Charles dodged a turnover when Cardinals forward Chris Williamson elevated a long strike over the net, but faced an increase in intense pressure after halftime.

Williamson narrowly missed connection on the back post after Mushet passed to Kyle Nicholls for an ensuing cross from the right side.

Brennen bounced a free kick from 25 yards to Matsumoto for an easy save after Mineral Area coaxed a hand ball from defender Michael Quinn.

The Cardinals produced multiple counter attacks and room for their forwards to operate. That effort finally paid off after Corbin held in a clearing attempt and worked forward for a shot.

Matsumoto made an outstanding save on a sharp drive from Chalon Domian moments later, but the rebound skipped directly toward Wilkinson, who did not miss in the 59th minute.

Mineral Area midfielder Alex Wilkinson (28) settles the ball for possession during first half men’s soccer action against St. Charles on Saturday in Park Hills.

St. Charles picked up the only three yellow cards of the match, including two after falling behind, but none of the officials saw a head butt from behind by Antonio Pratas that knocked Domian down.

Domain responded with a hard tackle on Pratas that resulted in a foul, and the elevated tension only fueled MAC toward the end of regulation.

Cougars defender Javier Yniguez posted a team-high three shots, and added a stellar defensive play by sprinting back for a sliding break-up as Mushet looked for Carey across the box.

Reece Rawlings flicked a header wide off the ensuring corner, but Mineral Area soon celebrated after St. Charles could not capitalize on its free kick at the other end.

After Mastumoto caught a dangerous ball from Corbin toward Tom Walton, the collective return of several starters sparked the go-ahead sequence.

Daniel Tague worked against a defender in relative isolation along the right side, then tried to shoot after cutting back to his left foot.

Jordan Ferrao recovered to deflect the drive, but the ball bounced to Carey at the top of the box for his clear strike and second goal of the season.

Brennan blocked down a potential through ball to clear with about two minutes remaining, and the Cardinals punctuated a signature victory.

Mineral Area hosts St. Louis for another Region 16 showdown on Saturday.

Mineral Area center back Reece Rawlings (24) sends a header toward midfield during first half men’s soccer action against St. Charles on Saturday in Park Hills.


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