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Alton High School & Alton Middle School

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Alton Athletics

Alton High School & Alton Middle School

Alton Athletics

Alton High School & Alton Middle School

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2 weeks ago

Jeff Hayes - Large School Soccer Coach of the Year - The Telegraph - 7/31/2018

Large Schools Girl Soccer Coach of the Year Jeff Hayes of Alton
Pete Hayes, phayes@thetelegraph.com Published 7:00 am CDT, Tuesday, July 31, 2018
 
 
 
 
 
 
 Alton girls soccer coach Jeff Hayes gives halftime instructions to his team during a 3-0 Southwestern Conference victory over Edwardsville on May 1 at AHS. Hayes is the Telegraph Large Schools Girl Soccer Coach of the Year. Photo: 

Pete Hayes | The Telegraph

Photo:
Pete Hayes | The Telegraph

Alton girls soccer coach Jeff Hayes gives halftime instructions to his team during a 3-0 Southwestern Conference victory over Edwardsville on May 1 at AHS. Hayes is the Telegraph Large Schools Girl Soccer Coach of the Year.
GODFREY — While books should be judged on more than their cover, so should athletic teams’ success be determined on more than a won-lost record.

Just as Alton High girls soccer coach Jeff Hayes, The Telegraph Large-Schools Coach of the Year. His Redbirds’ record may not have been as sparkly as others and even short of last season’s mark, but the 2018 campaign could well go down as one of the best in program history, at least in recent years.

Alton, which finished 10-7-2, came within an eyelash of winning its first Southwestern Conference soccer championship. The Redbirds continued to make inroads that included improvements and results that would have been considered impossible a few seasons ago.

“This was a great group of girls to coach,” Hayes said. “We had talent going into the season and we saw even more emerge during the season. Of course, I thought we could have played longer in the playoffs, but you’re never ready to see a season end.”

That end came in a 1-0 loss to host Granite City in the semifinals of the regional at Gene Baker Field. And although the result brought Redbirds’ season to an abrupt halt, Hayes said there were plenty of positives achieved.

“The season was a grind, but there wasn’t a single game in which we played bad,” he said. “We got a lot of leadership from our seniors and they’ll be hard to replace.”

Just winning an SWC game has been challenging in recent seasons, but Hayes’s Redbirds came close to winning the league title in 2018. That would have been the program’s first SWC crown.

A 1-1 tie with Belleville West in the regular season finale prevented Alton from laying claim to that elusive conference crown and handed it to Belleville East.

After grabbing a 1-0 lead on a goal by Alaina Nasello, West rallied to tie the game, sending it to sudden-death overtime. Thanks to a late save penalty kick save by freshman goalie Addison Miller, the score remained 1-1. There were no penalty kicks and the game ended tied.

SWC standings are determined on a points basis with three points for a win and one point for a tie. East won the SWC championship with 11 points and Alton was second with 10 points. A victory would have meant the Redbirds’ first SWC crown.

“It wasn’t that many years ago that just getting a win in the conference was a preseason goal for us,” Hayes said. “I’m proud of the way our girls fought through things. Getting second in this league is no small thing.”

East, which lost to Collinsville was 3-1-2 in the SWC while Alton finished 3-2-1. Edwardsville and Collinsville, which each lost to Alton during the season, also finished 3-2-1 in the league but finished behind the Redbirds because of head-to-head results.

“We finished ahead of some excellent soccer programs,” Hayes said. “That says a lot about our group of girls.”

A 3-0 home victory over Edwardsville May 1 put them in position for their run at the SWC crown, but a 4-3 tough-luck loss at Granite City made the season finale at West a must-win game.

Hayes, who is 33-19-7 in three seasons at Alton, can bring out the best in his players, according to senior captain and two-time Player of the Year Brianna Hatfield.

“Coach Hayes’s thought process is definitely one of his strengths that helps him gain most of his success,” Hatfield said. “Jeff and I have both seen the ups and downs of Alton High soccer and have been through a lot together.

“He’s helped me changed the way I view things, how I react, and pushed me everyday to be not only a better player but more importantly a better person.”


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