CHESTERFIELD • The Marquette soccer team parlayed three throw-ins -- two long and one short -- into a 3-1 victory over visiting Oakville on Tuesday evening.
“We've done well on the set pieces all season, and they definitely worked for us tonight,'' Mustangs coach Chris Kenny said. “I thought it was a pretty even game, but that's what you expect any time you play Oakville. They always play hard, and you know they'll never quit.
“But we played pretty well, too. I'd say it was definitely one of our more complete efforts of the season.''
No. 3 among STLhighschoolsports.com large schools, the Mustangs improved to 13-1 overall and to 6-0 atop the Suburban West Conference. The state runner-up in Class 3 a year ago, Oakville is 5-7-3 and 2-2.
In a scoreless first half, Marquette had the better of the play early, but Oakville came on as the half progressed.
Less than two minutes into the second half, the Tigers' Devon Wheat hit a well-stuck shot from outside, but Marquette keeper Jack Harris managed to tip it over the bar.
The Mustangs went up a couple of minutes later when Keith Grieshaber headed in a long throw from Henry Wynd.
It was the area-leading 21st goal of the season for Grieshaber.
“How high did he get? He's a talent, no question,'' Oakville coach Dave Robben said of Grieshaber, a Post-Dispatch All-Metro selection as a sophomore in 2011. “His work rate is just phenomenal.''
Less than five minutes later, with Oakville preparing to defend another long throw, Wynd instead received a quick throw from Alex Fleher and attacked down the right side. He cut the ball along the end line and was tripped up for a penalty kick.
Grieshaber converted for goal No. 22 and a 2-0 Marquette lead.
“Sometimes you just have to switch it up, especially when the defense is sitting back,'' Wynd said of the short throw. “This time, it worked out pretty well.''
Oakville cut into the Marquette lead midway through the half. After a shot from Nick Makowski was blocked, the Tigers' Michael Ruzicka followed up with a 30-yard blast over Harris to make it 2-1.
“That's the thing about Oakville -- they just keep coming at you,'' Kenny said.
But after holding off the Tigers' pressure for the next 10 or so minutes, the Mustangs picked up a much-needed insurance tally with 6:35 to play. On another long throw from Wynd, Grieshaber challenged Oakville keeper Troy Korte. The ball fell to Marquette's Nathan Schilly, who knocked it in for a 3-1 final.
Later in the match, Korte managed to get a hand on a 20-yard missile from Marquette's Michael Downar that banged off the cross bar.
Wynd, a central defender, said the long throw comes naturally.
“It's just something that's always been there,'' he said. “I'm kind of lanky, so I guess it's just one of those God-given things. We have a number of guys who can go up and win the header, but when you've got a guy like Keith, you have to target him most of the time. I just try to do what I can for the team, and that's the way all of us feel.''
Kenny added: “I think this team is a little more balanced and complete than last year's. Keith's obviously a key player for us, but we have good players all over the field. We're having another good season, but the approach is the same: to try and stay focused from game to game and to try to get a little better every time we take the field.''
With his team healthy for the first time all season, Robben is looking for the same from Tigers.
“Chris has a nice team -- they're solid all over the field,'' the Oakville coach said. “But we played right with them. I liked the effort, and I felt like we did some things with the attack that really haven't been there lately. It's a loss, yes, but I come away from this feeling pretty positive about it. The key now, though, is to build off what we did tonight and hopefully carry it forward as we try to build a little bit of momentum for the last month of the season.''
Marquette plays Friday at Francis Howell Central (11-1). Oakville hosts Mehlville on Thursday and plays Saturday at Francis Howell North.