BELLEVILLE • The Belleville West soccer team didn't score a goal Tuesday night, but it still reached one of its biggest goals of the season.
A 0-0 tie with visiting Edwardsville gave West (16-3-1 overall, 5-0-1 in the Southwestern Conference) the SWC championship.
"It's great to be able to get to this point," Maroons coach Rob Thornberry said. "Now we'll focus on the regional (next week at Collinsville)."
Edwardsville, which needed to win to earn a share of the title, is 13-4-2 and 4-1-1.
"We were able to get one-on-one with the goalkeeper on a number of occasions, but unfortunately for us, we kicked it into him, and he made saves," Edwardsville coach Mark Heiderscheid said. "We weren't able to connect well enough, so the game just became back and forth. It was not as attractive a game as it should be for teams leading the conference, but it certainly had its drama."
One of the first opportunities for the Tigers came with 28 minutes remaining in the first half, as West goalkeeper Nate Petrekovich made a save on Brent Heinlein, who nearly broke free up the middle after a long pass from Landon Paul.
With 24:26 to play in the half, Edwardsville keeper Ryan Hessler had to be helped off the field with an apparent leg injury after a collision inside the box. He was replaced by Brandon Baker, who has played the majority of the games for the Tigers.
West's best scoring chance of the first half came with a minute to play, as Jesse Jordan's free kick from 30 yards out went wide right.
With 34:50 remaining in the second half, West was awarded a penalty kick after Baker got a yellow card for pushing off a Maroons defender in front of the net. But Baker made a diving save on Jordan's shot, which was headed to the right corner.
"I try to read (the shooter's eyes), but sometimes guys will throw you off," Baker said. "You watch their hips, too, and (Jordan) opened up his hips, so I knew he was going that way. That's right when he strikes it, so it has to be a split-second decision."
For the remainder of the half, Edwardsville applied pressure, but was unable to score. With 24:06 to play, a free kick by Paul from just outside the box sailed over the crossbar. With 6:10 left, Heinlein got past the defense and got a shot off from 15 yards out, but Petrekovich made the save.
Both teams had chances with time running out in regulation. With 1:30 remaining, Austin Donelson had a partial breakaway after a pass from Paul, but Petrekovich again came up with the save.
"Our defense is strong, but when they slip up, I'm there to make the save," Petrekovich said. "I basically just come out, close down the angle, try to make them shoot around me and wait for them to make the move."
In the first 10-minute overtime, West freshman Sean Gouveia was wide right on a free kick with 6:31 to play after Baker was called for an illegal touch outside the box. With 3:38 remaining, Heinlein shot wide right from 20 yards out after a pass from Austin Toby.
The second overtime session was more of the same, with both teams unable to cash in on scoring chances. With 40 seconds remaining, Petrekovich made a save on Frank Verdu from the left side. With five seconds on the clock, Baker made a save on Jordan from the right corner.
"We were playing to win -- at no point were we trying to tie that game," Thornberry said. "There was a lot of urgency and a sense to go forward at the end. We had some dead balls inside the 20 (yard line) and didn't convert on them. On the PK, (Baker) made a great save."
What the game lacked in offense, it made up in intensity with seven yellow cards -- four for West and three for Edwardsville.
"Give West credit -- this is the best team they've had in I don't know how long," Heiderscheid said. "That's great for coach Thornberry -- he's a wonderful person and a wonderful coach -- and it's really good for their program."