COLLINSVILLE — It was a lethal combination Thursday night for the Althoff Crusaders.
The rebuilding Crusaders matched up against one of the top teams in the state and the result was a 4-1 loss to the Collinsville Kahoks, who got goals from four different players.
"We've got to put it all in perspective: Who did you play?" Crusaders coach Juergen Huettner said. "They're one of the big favorites this year in the Southwestern Conference.
"We've seen O'Fallon, we've seen (Belleville) East, we've seen them. Collinsville, just the way they move the ball, they're the best team we've seen so far. So losing against them 4-1 is probably not too bad. (But) it's nothing to be impressed about."
Alyssa Reinger and Sophie Sharos had first-half goals for Collinsville (3-1), which received second-half goals from Mikayla McCarthy and Kat Roe. Emily Jackson scored for the Crusaders (2-4), temporarily cutting their deficit to 3-1.
The goal for Roe, the News-Democrat's Player of the Year last season, came on a restart from 30 yards out. Althoff goalie Kennedy Sonsoucie was in position to make the play, but the ball trickled through her legs to make it 4-1 with less than eight minutes left.
"It was nice to get her a goal," Kahoks coach Clay Smith said. "Obviously, it was a little bit of a fluke. We're trying to get her back in a rhythm and get her to find her fitness. Tonight was the first game she's started. She came off slow with some blisters ... but things are starting to click for her on the field."
Reiniger scored from the top of the box less than six minutes into the game, putting Collinsville ahead to stay at 1-0. Sharos scored from about 20 yards out to make it 2-0 in the 13th minute.
Althoff's Rachel Kaltwasser hit the crossbar with a shot from the right wing in the 30th minutes, then was robbed of a goal on a great save by Holly Bluemner a little over four minutes later.
Sonsoucie made a strong save against Reiniger to keep it 2-0 early in the second half, and the Kahoks also cleared a header by Payton Seibel off the line in the 61st minute.
Nineteen seconds later, McCarthy got to a bouncing ball and had a leg up on two Althoff defenders when she banged a shot off Sonsoucie, who had left her line to attempt a play.
The ball was slowed, but not long enough to allow the Crusaders to get to it. It crossed the line just before Althoff's clearing attempt, putting the Kahoks ahead 3-0.
"It's nice to see some different girls put the ball in the net, spread it around a little bit and get the confidence up," Smith said.
Jackson capitalized on some sloppy defense in front of the Collinsville goal and brought Althoff within 3-1 in the 65th minute, but Roe put the game out of reach eight minutes later.
"Emily Jackson just followed the play," Huettner said. "It wasn't pretty, but she forced the play by being in the right place at the right time."
Althoff played most of the game without senior Alexis "Baby" Jones, who is battling a pulled hamstring.
"She's not 100 percent," said Huettner, whose team has lost four in a row. "We were trying to see how far we could push her today. We pushed her a little bit, but we couldn't push her a whole lot further than we did. When she's healthy, we can put Kaltwasser out there with her at the same time."
Smith said one of his challenges this season will be to keep his team from becoming overconfident. The Kahoks reached the Class 3A super-sectional last year and return many of their top players.
"That's kind of the focus I've had this season with them," Smith said. "Us losing our first match against a great Chatham (Glenwood) team was probably one of the best things for us. It knocked some people down a little bit, gave them level heads.
"We're not where we want to be right now. We're playing good soccer, but we could be much, much better."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.