QUINCY -- Robby Phillips had every reason to believe it would be tough to reconnect with his old traveling soccer teammates after five years away.
It turns out it wasn't tough at all.
Phillips, who moved back to Quincy this summer after living in Texas since the summer before he entered sixth grade, earned the starting spot at center forward for the Quincy High School boys soccer team during the preseason. It allowed him to be a facilitator and creator through the first eight games.
He took on the role of dynamite finisher on Tuesday night.
Phillips recorded his first hat trick, leading the Blue Devils to a 5-1 victory over Galesburg in Western Big Six Conference action at Flinn Stadium. It positions the Blue Devils (8-1, 2-0 WB6) for a WB6 title contenders showdown next Tuesday with nationally ranked Rock Island, which stayed unbeaten in the league with a 4-0 victory over Rock Island Alleman.
"This game meant everything to us," said Phillips, a junior who has seven goals and eight assists this season. "(QHS coach Ron Bridal) said this game was going to dictate how our season is going to go, especially in conference."
The Blue Devils made it clear they want to regain the WB6 title.
A crisp, aggressive first-half attack yielded three goals, and a solid defensive effort limited the Silver Streaks to just three shots. It was a far different first 40 minutes than Galesburg played in last week's matchup with Rock Island in which the the Rocks didn't score until the 32nd minute.
Rock Island won 5-3 in double overtime.
"We've seemed to come out slow in the first half, and we haven't really had our best halves in the first half," QHS senior defender Alex Watson said. "We knew we had to come out strong tonight and keep playing at a strong level throughout the entire half.
"We were trying to get a goal early, keep attacking, keep the foot on the pedal the whole time."
The Blue Devils got that early goal seven minutes into the game.
Watson made a run up the right side and crossed a pass into the penalty area. Phillips won the ball in the air and drove a header into the ground and bounced it past Galesburg goalkeeper Hunter Sanders.
"Beautiful, beautiful ball," Phillips said. "I couldn't have asked for anything better."
Watson knew it had a chance to create an opportunity as the ball floated into the box.
"It just feels like poetry in motion almost," Watson said. "You just know someone is going to get to it."
The Blue Devils kept after it, getting a goal from Phillips in the 13th minute off a Jaeden Smith assist and a creative blast from Smith in the 26th minute when a deked a defender and drilled a shot from about 20 yards out.
"We were really happy," Bridal said of the first half effort. "You take a look at the 40 minutes we put together there, and we were really happy with the things we did."
Harrison Fey gave the Blue Devils a four-goal lead with his header in the 45th minute when Jordan McNay flicked a Phillips long throw-in into danger. Although Galesburg ended a shot at the shutout with Randy Bile's goal in the 52nd minute, Phillips finished off the hat trick and the Silver Streaks with a goal off a Smith assist in the 71st minute.
"I am fitting in just fine," Phillips said. "I'm doing pretty well."
It has the Blue Devils riding a wave of confidence into a tough stretch of games, which includes this weekend's trip to the Reitz Memorial Tiger Invitational and the looming showdown with Rock Island.
"Losing the conference last year was a big blow to our program," Bridal said. "Every game we have this year against conference competition is one step toward bringing back what we've had in the past."
Quincy 5, Galesburg 1
4 Shots 15
8 Saves 2
0 Corners 7
8 Fouls 9
0 Offsides 2
Galesburg 0 1--1
Quincy 3 2--5
Q--Robby Phillips (Alex Watson), 7:00
Q--Phillips (Jaeden Smith), 13:00
Q--Smith (unassisted), 26:00
Q--Harrison Fey (Jordan McNay, Phillips), 45:00
G--Randy Bile (unassisted), 52:00
Q--Phillips (Smith), 71:00