BELLEVILLE — Belleville West scored in the first minute of the game Tuesday night, but it was mostly downhill from there.
The Maroons got their chance against highly regarded Collinsville and discovered, like other teams, that the Kahoks again are the real deal in a 3-1 loss in a Southwestern Conference game.
"It was nice to see from our team, how we would respond to that, especially being on the road and playing Belleville West, which is a well-coached team and very athletic," Collinsville coach Clay Smith said of the Kahoks' early deficit.
"I said in our pregame that one thing we didn't want to do was let them on the board early and get down. Sure enough, not even two minutes in, they put a quick one in the goal. I sat back and watched. It was nice to see us regroup, settle down and play our game. We rattled three in pretty quick after that."
Collinsville, which returns many of its key players from last season when it reached the Class 3A super-sectional, improved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the SWC. The Maroons fell to 5-1 and 0-1.
After West junior Brittany Gallego scored on a tap-in off a feed from sophomore Sydnee Carroll at the 58-second mark, the Kahoks answered with three goals in under 10 minutes.
Sophomore Sophie Sharos tied the game on a goal in front at 13:26. Senior Alyssa Reiniger emerged from a scramble to put Collinsville ahead 2-1 when she scored in the box at 20:32, and senior Alexis Arnold blasted a 40-yard shot that sailed over West senior goalie Mackenzie White's head at 23:03.
"They're a very good team," Maroons coach Jason Mathenia said. "We talked about it pregame. The last two games, we kind of got off to a slow start. Our challenge to them was to start this game ready to go. They lived up to that one, scoring under a minute against Collinsville. That's pretty impressive.
"(But) they obviously woke up a little bit. They got three goals in a 10-, 15-minute spurt. ... We were still stuck in transition and couldn't adjust quickly enough."
The Maroons' goal came when Carroll rushed in from the left side against Kahoks junior goalie Holly Bluemner.
Bluemner committed to stopping Carroll, West's leading goal-scorer with six. Carroll's shot toward the right post might have gone in, but Gallego made certain of it with a flick that made it 1-0.
"We dribbled in to a pressure situation where we shouldn't have and we lost the ball," Smith said. "I don't think our midfield was quite ready for us to lose the ball that early in the game. We got caught with low numbers back, and they went in and capitalized. That's what good teams do to you."
The Maroons kept the Kahoks off the board in the second half, but their chances also were minimal as the teams played to a standstill. West's best opportunity came in the 61st minute when sophomore Carli Tastad shot high from in front of the left post in a one-on-one meeting with Bluemner.
Teams facing Collinsville are finding out what they probably already knew: The Kahoks have too many scorers for whom to account. West kept sophomore Mikayla McCarthy (nine goals) and senior and defending News-Democrat Player of the Year Kat Roe off the board, but it was only a small battle won.
"Their biggest threats offensively are McCarthy and Roe. Those two together are just dangerous," Mathenia said. "That doesn't take anything away from anybody else. We kept them off the board tonight, but then Reiniger hits one, Sharos gets one and one comes out of the backfield. Those girls are dangerous as well. Sharos and Reiniger are quality players."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.