Edwardsville turned a tight game into a rout Tuesday night.
Sophomore Katlyn Schneider had two goals and seniors Taylor Thompson and Lilly Cobb had one apiece as the Tigers ripped Collinsville 4-0 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Normal Sectional at Gene Baker Field.
All four goals came in the second half as Edwardsville stopped a four-game losing streak against the Kahoks, who eliminated the Tigers in each of the last two postseasons.
"I think we finally realized that this could be our last game. Then we just started to push real hard," Schneider said Edwardsville's second-half scoring binge that overwhelmed Collinsville.
The Tigers (22-1) won their 18th consecutive game and set a program record for victories in a season. They will play Moline in the title game at 5 p.m. Friday at Normal High. Moline eliminated Lincoln-Way Central 3-2 in sudden-death penalty kicks in the other semifinal Tuesday.
"They've beaten us the past two years," Tigers coach Abby Comerford said. "So it's nice to be able to break that. We got one."
Edwardsville outshot Collinsville 20-6 and held a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks. The Kahoks (14-6-2) enjoyed a strong start, but coach Clay Smith said they got out of their game plan in the second half as the Tigers applied constant pressure, and eventually, production.
"In the first 20 minutes, we played well because we stuck to our game plan," Smith said. "We did the right things and the ball was going to the right place. Then they stepped it up and we panicked a little bit. We kind of played right into the way they wanted us to play."
Edwardsville, which lost to the host Kahoks 1-0 on March 27, scored the only goal it needed at 44 minutes, 45 seconds, when Schneider fought off two defenders in front of the right post and converted a tap-in off a throw-in from Cobb.
"I was just trying to focus and make sure I could get it in for the seniors and finish it for them," Schneider said. "I was looking for the ball and just kind of poked my toe in there and it went in. That's when we realized we could do this, and we did."
Comerford credited Schneider's determination.
"She didn't stop on that ball," she said. "It hit off a girl, came back to her, hit off a girl, came back to her, hit off a girl, came back to her, and she finally was able to put it in."
After Schneider's goal, the Tigers smelled victory.
Thompson made it 2-0 at 48:46 with a perfectly placed 35-yard free kick that sailed over the hands of Collinsville senior keeper Holly Bluemner and settled into the right corner of the net.
Schneider essentially put the game out of reach at 62:18 when she headed in a free kick from the left side by sophomore Jane Ann Crabtree that first bounced in the box before getting to Schneider.
"I was a little nervous on that one," Schneider said. "But I just kept my eye on the ball and hit it."
Cobb completed the scoring with a goal at 77:30 from junior Lexi Norton. The Tigers have outscored opponents 56-4 this season. The shutout was the 18th for senior Kristin Francis.
"I told the girls at halftime that we were creating our own mistakes," Smith said. "That's exactly what happened on two of their four goals.
"That's a talented team over there. They wanted this one, that's for sure. I'm sure revenge is sweet for them. I guess you can't win them all, but we had a great season. I wish them a lot of luck."
Comerford said the No. 1 key for the Tigers was to become more assertive.
"They were winning all the balls out of the air," she said of the Kahoks. "We told them we've got to win those 50-50 balls out of the air. About halfway through the first half, we finally started playing our game. We started calming down. Our nerves got to us at the very beginning of the game."
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at email@example.com or 239-2665.