Collinsville senior Mikayla McCarthy has been on the receiving end of many corner kicks from Kathryn Besserman during the 2015 season.
But the all-state forward would be be hard-pressed to find a more important one than one they pulled off Friday in the finals of the Class 3A O’Fallon girls Soccer Regional.
McCarthy scored on a head ball off Besserman’s corner-kick 13 minutes into the game and the top-seeded Kahoks never looked back as they defeated Southwestern Conference rival O’Fallon 2-1 before a large crowd at O’Fallon High School.
Stopped by an outstanding save by O’Fallon goalie Sydney Brake just minutes earlier, Besserman lined her corne- kick toward the far post and McCarthy headed the ball into the upper left-hand corner of the net to give Collinsville (18-3-1) the lead for good.
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“It was a great ball by her (Besserman) and I was there to put the ball in the back of the net. We work on that all the time,’’ McCarthy said. “It feels good to win the regional title. How far can we go? I think we can go all the way to state.’’
Senior Sophia Sharos added a goal 12 minutes later to make the score 2-0 and it stayed that way until the final 4.4 seconds, when Panthers defender Elaine Gorom scored on a penalty kick. But it was too little too late for O’Fallon (10-7-6) as Collinsville advances to the Joliet Central Sectional on Tuesday.
The SWC champion Kahoks will take on the Granite City Warriors on Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Edwardsville High School. Granite City defeated Quincy 2-1 in double overtime on Friday to win the Edwardsville Regional.
Following the win, Collinsville coach Clay Smith seemed to echo McCarthy’s feelings on both the first and eventual deciding goals of the game.
“The first goal, it was a great corner kick and Mikayla was there to put it in and the second one was also execued very well. Chayse (Richardson) has become very adapt on that flip pass and once again it was very good execution,’’ Smith said. “These were two good teams who fought hard and played very well tonight.
“In my mind it doesn’t matter if it’s by one goal or seven, it’s a win and we’re moving on.’’
O’Fallon, which upset Belleville West in the regional semifinals, was also hoping to move on in tournament play. But thanks to a tough Kahoks’ defense, the Panthers scoring chances were limited, especially in the first half.
“They (Collinsville) are a strong team and they are tough to go between. We had a game plan to go over the top of them and I thought we did a good job of executing,’’ O’Fallon coach Craig Dippel said. “By know means would I say that we had the better of the play, but we had some chances and I thought we had them on their heals a couple of times.
“We just couldn’t get the ball in the net. We’ve had two main difficulties this year. One is scoring goals and the second is defending head balls. They came back to haunt us again tonight. But I’m very proud of my team. They all fought hard and gave us a chance.’’
Leading 2-0, Collinsville had chances to put the Panthers away early in the second half. But excellent scoring chances by McCarthy and sophomore Emily Holton were cut short by several offsides penalties called on the Kahoks in the final five minutes of the game.
Finally with time running out and the Panthers on the attack, the Kahoks were ruled for an infraction and Gorom scored on the penalty kick with 4.4 seconds left.
“It’s unfortunate a penalty kick was called in the last five seconds of the game,’’ Smith said. “We had some very good chances in the second half, but we had some tough offsides penalties called on us.
“Defensively, I thought we did a good job of limiting their scoring opportunities. We were able to control play very well.’’
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 618-239-2661.