QUINCY -- The mood of the players on Quincy High School boys soccer team changed from excitement to concern in about a three-minute span.
Senior forward Robby Phillips scored the game-winning goal for the Blue Devils with 22 minutes remaining to seal a 2-1 victory over United Township in the Western Big Six Conference opener Tuesday night at Flinn Stadium. A few minutes later, however, Phillips limped off the field and didn't return to the game.
Phillips, the team's second-leading scorer behind senior forward Jaeden Smith, had ice around his right knee and used a crutch to leave the stadium after the game.
"We're optimistic," Blue Devils coach Ron Bridal said. "It's looking like something that will allow him to come back and play."
Smith also left the game in the final five minutes with cramps, but Bridal expects he'll return as Thursday's game against crosstown rival Quincy Notre Dame looms.
If Phillips misses time, the Blue Devils (6-0, 1-0 WB6) are confident they can still succeed.
"Something we stress a lot is, ‘Next man up,'" junior forward Nick Kelley said. "We're all prepared for something like that to happen. Robby came off, but we had someone ready to go right away."
It will be difficult to replicate Phillips' offensive presence, which was the difference against the Panthers (4-2-1, 0-1).
Quincy finally created opportunities about 20 minutes into the game. Smith created the first on a low cross from the right side of the box that found Phillips, but he blazed the ball over the crossbar. The Blue Devils won the ensuing goal kick, and Smith hit a shot straight at United Township keeper Luis Raya. Phillips had another shot stopped three minutes later by Raya.
With 12 minutes remaining in the half, Phillips won a ball from a United Township defender, dribbled to his left and took a left-footed shot that hit the right post, then hit Raya in the back and went into the net for a 1-0 lead.
That lead didn't last long. Panthera forward Arafath Ourognao tied the game with a goal two minutes later.
"(Ourognao) is scoring goals," United Township coach Phil Weaver said. "He's confident and obviously strong. To respond as quickly as we did and go into half 1-1 was definitely the kind of response we were looking for, but you want to push on."
"Sometimes after you score, you let up a bit, and I feel like we did that a little bit," Quincy senior goalkeeper Jake Happel said. "But right after they scored, we bounced back. We were fine."
The Panthers didn't get a serious scoring chance in the second half. The Blue Devils scored the game-winning when a free kick from 30 yards away was sent into the box, and Phillips pounced on a loose ball.
The victory gives the Blue Devils a perfect start to WB6 play with road games coming up at Rock Island, Galesburg and Rock Island Alleman.
"Getting this win shows we're able to play through adversity," Kelley said. "We'll go up there and take it to them."
Quincy High School 2, United Township 1
13 Shots 13
6 Saves 6
3 Corners 9
1 Offsides 4
15 Fouls 9
United Township 1 0--1
Quincy 1 1--2
Q--Robby Phillips (unassisted), 28:00
U--Arafath Ourognao (unassisted), 30:00
Q--Phillips (unassisted), 58:00