Boys soccer: Trojans stalled by Chariton in postseason opener

May 14—FAIRFIELD — It was a season that seemed to swing like a pendulum.

The Fairfield boys soccer team endured a three-match losing streak not just one, but twice, over the past two months. In between, however, the Trojans found a way to string consecutive wins together with three straight Southeast Conference victories in the second half of April as well as wins on consecutive nights at home to close out the regular season.

Fairfield was hoping to ride their latest wave of momentum into a postseason win on Monday night. Chariton, however, had other ideas bringing an end to an up-and-down season for the Trojans with a 2-1 win in the Class 2A, Substate 6 quarterfinals at Ken Locke Stadium earning the chance to knock off unbeaten Gilbert next week.

It was an opportunity that Fairfield head coach Felisberto Guezimane had hoped his team would have after earning back-to-back wins last Thursday and Friday over Burlington and Oskaloosa. Danny Ellingaus scored in the second half off a feed from Carter Stark to snap a scoreless tie as Fairfield avenged a 1-0 loss to Burlington just three nights earlier with a 1-0 win over the Grayhounds on Thursday before four goals in the second half allowed Fairfield to close out the regular season with a 6-1 win over Oskaloosa at Trojan Stadium.

"The key is the momentum. It's a different level of competition when you get into substates, so you need to be able to carry over whatever momentum you've built up," Guezimane said. "We've made some really good plays this season. It's just been a matter for us of staying mentally focused."

The up-and-down nature of the Trojans showed in their final regular-season match. Facing winless Oskaloosa, Fairfield found itself having to match the Indians who came out with nothing to lose pouring everything in to getting that elusive first victory before opening postseason play on Monday against Knoxville.

"From the first match of the season, the boys have worked hard and have become more of a team," Oskaloosa coach Jacob Kime said. "The effort has increased in every match, even if the outcomes haven't been what we've wanted."

Oskaloosa matched Fairfield attack for attack and shot for shot through the opening 10 minutes. After swarting multiple chances by the Indians, the Trojans finally put the first goal on the board as Ezra Kuster scored off a quick throw in the 17th minute giving Fairfield the 1-0 lead.

"We were all fatigued coming off a tough game the night before (against Burlington), so we were nervous we might start out a little bit slow," Kuster said. "We finally started to pick up the pace as the match went along. I think we were rushing a lot in the beginning, but eventually we started to play our game."

Fairfield began to find a consistent attack with Jaxen Allen beating the Oskaloosa defense down the field to run down long Trojan passes. Allen was able to finish off a run in the final seconds of the first half, doubling Fairfield's one-goal lead, before scoring off a feed from Stark with less than six minutes left in the match putting in Fairfield's fourth goal of the second half.

"You've just got to break through the defense and anticipate the play," Allen said. "My legs definitely were feeling it, but it's a great way to close out the regular season."

Kuster and Ellingaus added second-half goals against Oskaloosa to put away the final win of the season for the Trojans. Lane Stever added a goal in the 62nd minute to help clinch the match.

The Trojans were 31 seconds away from heading into the postseason with consecutive shutout wins. Kale Van Wyk, however, scored what proved to be the final goal in a winless 0-15 season for Oskaloosa finding the back of the net on an attack in the 80th and final minute against Fairfield before being shutout by Knoxville, 3-0, in the Class 2A substate quarterfinals.

"I wasn't happy with giving up that last goal," Guezimane said. "We lost focus. It was a good kick, but it all started with us losing the ball in a bad spot."

Mason Smith scored a goal and set up William Yeager for a second score on Monday as Chariton (10-3) built a 2-0 lead over the Trojans early in the second half of the substate opener. Carter Moore gave Fairfield a chance in the final five minutes, scoring on a deflection off a free kick with 5:18 to go for what proved to be the final goal of the season for the 6-7 Trojans.

"We knew it was going to be tough to make it to state considering the teams we'd have to go through," Kuster said.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.