O'FALLON — Belleville West packed it on defense and played for penalty kicks Tuesday against O'Fallon.
That part of the Maroons' plan worked, but the second part didn't as the second-seed Panthers outscored West 4-2 in the PK session to grab a 1-0 win in the Class 3A O'Fallon Regional semifinals.
"I was hoping we didn't go there," O'Fallon coach Craig Dippel said of penalty kicks, which followed two 10-minute overtime periods. "Playing that extra 20 minutes is long and emotional, but the girls did a great job. They took care of business on PKs. They put them in.
"We've been practicing them for quite a while, ever since the beginning of the season, actually. You never know; you might have to use them, and we've got to be prepared."
The Panthers (16-5) will play top-seeded Collinsville (14-6) in the title game at 6 p.m. Friday. O'Fallon defeated the Kahoks 2-0 in the regular season April 9 in Collinsville.
The penalty-kicks period was tied at 2 when O'Fallon junior Sydney Moore converted to put the Panthers ahead 3-2.
West's next shooter, senior Caitlin Malherek, shot high over the crossbar. Sophomore Elaine Gorom then connected for O'Fallon to make it 4-2, and when the Maroons' next shooter, junior Sam Bibee, missed off the left post, the Panthers' victory was sealed.
"Kudos to them," Maroons coach Jason Mathenia said. "They've done their job at some point in the last month and a half to scout our people that take our PKs, because it was obvious they knew where we were going every time. That's part of it. I wouldn't change anything my girls did preparing for it."
O'Fallon didn't meet defensive resistance until it had the ball inside West's 40-yard line. The Maroons dodged several restart opportunities by the Panthers and almost managed to win the game in the final seconds of regulation.
That's when sophomore Sydnee Carroll got possession and made a long run before cutting in on goal from the right side.
Carroll, the Maroons' leading scorer with 14 goals and nine assists, was just a few feet outside the right post when she uncorked a hard shot on which Panthers senior goalie Hannah Poteet made an exceptional save with three seconds to play.
"Our game plan was to keep them out of the back of the net, defend as much as we have to and create the moments when they came for us to try to go to goal," Mathenia said. "And we did that. Carroll had a couple of opportunities. ... Without scoring, we did the best we could with them.
"But with Carroll making that last run in the last 10, 12 seconds of the game, and for Poteet to make just a remarkable save, that was unbelievable on her part. She's a great goalkeeper. She obviously won the game for them by making that save alone."
The victory might have come with a steep cost for the Panthers. Senior forward Lauren Knight left the game with an injury to her right knee 11 minutes into the second half.
Knight, who has 24 goals and six assists, spent the remainder of the game with the knee iced and later wrapped. Knight will be re-examined Wednesday.
"I don't want to speculate, but it doesn't look good," Dippel said. "My heart is torn for her. It's her senior year and she's going off to college after this (Florida Gulf Coast). It hurts the team. She's a huge part of it. She was having an all-state year, in my mind. She's a leader on the team, so it's heart-wrenching to see that."
Collinsville 7, Belleville East 1
The Kahoks grabbed a 3-0 lead and were never threatened by the fourth-seeded Lancers (11-9-2).
Six different players scored for Collinsville, which advanced to the super-sectional last year.
"That's what we needed tonight --a complete team effort," Collinsville coach Clay Smith said. "I've been stressing it. Everybody is playing with a ton of confidence right now. It's a great time to have it, this time of year."
Senior Alyssa Reiniger scored two goals for the Kahoks. Others scoring goals were sophomore Sophie Sharos, sophomore Mikayla McCarthy, sophomore Angela D'Agostino, freshman Hanna Liljegren and senior Kat Roe.
"We have a lot of people stepping up this year," said Roe, who was the News-Democrat's Player of the Year in 2012. "We have people getting goals and assists. We did very well today.
"I think we're better (than last year). We have our heads in it. If we keep it up, how we've been playing, and work together as a team, we can go pretty far this year."
Freshman Alyssa Bartle scored the Lancers' goal 16 minutes into the second half, but it only cut the Kahoks' lead to 5-1.
"We couldn't match their energy," Lancers coach Brad Dietrich said. "It's exactly what we've talked about. It's what we saw in the first game we played them (a 5-1 loss April 22). They have too much talent. When you let that talent roam, they make you pay. We just didn't defend at all."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.