Collinsville sputtered out of the gate Tuesday, but sophomore Emily Holten came to the rescue.
Holten scored late in the first half and added another goal in the second half as the Kahoks blanked Belleville East 4-0 in a Southwestern Conference game.
“I kept shooting over and over, and finally I got them,” Holten said after Collinsville improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the SWC.
Sophomore Alynnah O’Leary and senior Mikayla McCarthy also scored for the Kahoks and junior Julie Scheiter had the shutout in goal.
“It was a sluggish start,” Collinsville coach Clay Smith said. “A lot of that is mental. I take some responsibility for that. I challenged Emily and a couple of other girls at halftime to step up their game. I think she responded. It was a big goal in the first half.”
Holten’s goal at 37 minutes, 17 seconds proved to be the only one the Kahoks needed. She dribbled around junior defender Julia Moran and hit a 20-yard shot that glanced off the hands of leaping freshman Emma Kohring.
Kohring played the final 69-plus minutes of the game after the Lancers’ starting goalkeeper, freshman Grace Tantillo, suffered what is believed to be a season-ending injury to her left knee. Tantillo was carried off at 10:08 mark.
“My starting keeper goes down in the first (10) minutes and that’s a change,” second-year Lancers coach Erika Todd-Baptist said. “At the end of the day, as a leader and a coach, you do empathize (for Tantillo), especially when I’ve been there. But I had to make a change and I had to make the best decision. We can train keepers. We’ll figure out a way.”
The Lancers, who won just four games last season, fell to 3-3-1 overall and 0-2 in the SWC.
East nearly struck first when freshman Olivia Lee had a one-on-one chance against Scheiter, but Scheiter dived to her right to knock out Lee’s shot from 10 yards away.
Lancers senior Kara Brockmeyer cleared a shot by Holten off the line in the 32nd minute, but Holten capitalized on her next chance when she put the Kahoks on top for good.
East hung tough with its one-goal deficit until O’Leary pushed in from the left side and scored unassisted past Kohring at 55:07. The Lancers then broke down, as Holten maneuvered around the left side of the defense, creating space for an easy chance that made it 3-0 at 61:05.
The Lancers came close to denting the scoreboard twice in the next 10 minutes, but Collinsville maintained the shutout and got an insurance goal from McCarthy on a feed from sophomore Andrea Frerker that made it 4-0 at 76:35.
“That’s a well-coached, hard-fighting Belleville East team,” Smith said. “This wasn’t going to be an easy place to play, and we knew creating space was going to be an issue and a problem. But going into halftime with a cushion helped and we settled down. We changed our formation and changed things tactically to get behind them, and it worked. We utilized the outside of the field a little bit more. The girls responded well in the second half.
“This is a pretty special team offensively. It’s just a matter of them coming together and clicking all at the same time. They stay with it and they’re very smart.”
Todd-Baptist believes the Lancers will make progress as the season gains steam.
“I’ve had a lot of losses, especially in this program,” said Todd-Baptist, a Granite City High graduate. “That result does not define this team. Sometimes you need a loss like that to kind of put things in perspective. I have a lot of respect for Collinsville. Clay’s one of my best friends. Before I came here, I knew what kind of a battle this would be.
“We’re getting better. We’ve just got to work on it; we’ve got to keep moving forward.”