Regional soccer preview: Fisher/GCMS at Bloomington Cornerstone

(5) Fisher/GCMS Bunnies (11-4-4) at (3) Bloomington Cornerstone Cyclones (13-6-1)

Oct. 11, 4 p.m.

Downs

Storyline

Bunnies

Sometimes, you have to dig and dig and dig to find a juicy storyline. This one was about as easy it comes.

Even though it’s unfair this matchup between two extremely talented teams must come in the first round, it’s the hand that’s been dealt to both Fisher/Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley and Cornerstone.

The two teams played to a 2-2 draw last year and 11 days later Cornerstone dominated in a 5-2 regional semifinal win on its home field. On Saturday, Cornerstone won 3-2 in a thriller and 12 days later the clubs square off again.

Cyclones

Cornerstone has cemented itself as one of the top 1A programs in the state, and it has a chance for another deep postseason run.

Standing in the way is a surging Fisher/GCMS club enjoying perhaps its best season in program history, or at least its best run in a long time.

The Cyclones lost some key starters from last year but still return Moses Kabuswe, James McBride and Brian Matipa. Cornerstone has blazing speed in that top-three trio, so the Bunnies’ defenders will definitely have their work cut out for them, but they did a solid job in the first matchup this year.

Keys to win

Bunnies

Control the midfield

Controlling the midfield was head coach Levi Horsch’s answer to what the key to the regional game will be. Horsch said, “I think if we win the midfield against them next time, we’ll probably win the game,” adding that most soccer matches come down to who can control the midfield.

Cyclones

Relentless attack

Cornerstone had a few missed scoring opportunities, most notably a wide-open shot that went wide left in the first half. The Cyclones were the aggressor in the 2016 postseason game and laid it on the Bunnies. In the postseason, when the intensity is ratcheted up to 11 (that’s for all you “This Is Spinal Tap” fans), an early deficit can be back-breaking.

Players to Watch

Bunnies

Tyler Ricks

Tough call here, as you know by now the usual suspects: Caleb Bleich and Alec Johnson are the premier goal scorers. But Ricks, who scored his first career hat trick Sept. 19 vs. Mt. Pulaski, has come up with some clutch goals this year. Look for Ricks, Graham Voelker and Andrew Ferguson to step up and make a big play.

Cyclones

Moses Kabuswe

Kabuswe scored 46 goals last year to set the Bloomington intercity single-season record, on the way to a 22-5-1 record and fourth-place finish at the 2016 Class 1A state tournament. He tallied two of the three goals against the Bunnies on Saturday. He has tremendous speed and playmaking abilities. Fisher/GCMS defenders need to know where he is at all times.

Contact Zack Carpenter at zcarpenter@rantoulpress.com and on Twitter @ZCarp11.

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