While Collinsville failed to reach the Class 3A Collinsville Sectional semifinals, it still might have gotten one of the tournament’s most anticipated matchups when Edwardsville faced Quincy on Tuesday.
The game lived up to its billing as Quincy beat Edwardsville 1-0 at Kahok Stadium.
Edwardsville finishes its season 12-7-4.
After a shot by Quincy’s J.D. Sohn hit the crossbar, the ball came straight down to Bradyn Nokes, who headed in the game’s lone goal with 31 minutes to play.
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At halftime, Quincy coach Matt Longo told his players they were going to score on a restart.
“And we did,” he said. “That’s a corner kick we run. But most importantly, Nokes followed it up.”
Nokes’ goal lifted both team’s play for a while.
“But when you get the lead, the one thing you want to do is to protect,” Longo said. “So, you kind of forget what you do on offense.”
Longo and his players, however, never lost focus that they were playing Edwardsville, a team that had defeated Quincy in the last three postseasons.
“We have focused (on Edwardsville) from the time we lost to them last year to get a chance to play for the regional championship,” Longo said.
“With the new assessment going in place, all of sudden you got Collinsville. But deep in our mind, we always wanted to play Edwardsville. It’s a great rivalry.”
Longo could not point to one play which turned their latest game.
“It was like two heavyweights going against each other,” he said. “We are really happy what we did. I also know we did not do some things at the end of the game that I thought we were capable of. That’s putting the ball in the corner. If we are able to put the ball into the corner, a lot better things happen. But I am happy for the kids. They worked hard.”
For many of the Blue Devils, this was their 41st soccer game since June.
“And we prepared for games like this. We had situations like this over the summer, and they stepped up and did what they had to do.”
Quincy (17-4-2) advances to the 6 p.m. Friday championship against the winner of Moline (12-2-4) and Nornmal Community (16-5-1), who play Wednesday at Washington High School.
“Defensively, I think our kids were pretty strong,” Longo said. “I know we can shut teams down. We have done that the last two games against two great teams (in Collinsville and Edwardsville).”
Quincy made a bold statement after it scored the lone goal in the rain-soaked contest.
Persistent rain made for slick footing for both teams on the artificual surface, but the rain made the turf a little faster and it made both teams think a little more.
“You had to make sure to concentrate because each ball was going to come to you, whether you’re a goalie or a midfielder, at a quicker pace,” Longo said.
Both Longo and Edwardsville coach Mark Heiderscheid said they adjusted to the field conditions rather quickly.
The game all came down to who made fewer mistakes.
Heiderscheid was very happy with the way his Tigers played against Quincy.
He dismissed the rain.
“I’d rather get tears on me than rain,” Heiderscheid said. “Whether it’s good or bad, most teams have their seasons end before the playoffs are done. That’s the reality of it.
“We were in and around the box. It was a wet field. It’s one of those things when you have the ball bounce around. But we couldn’t get a final shot. ... Soccer is the pinnacle for all kind of things. It could be a goal, might be a goal. That’s the way it goes.”
Edwardsville advanced out of the regional for a fourth straight time with a 3-0 win over Belleville East in the semifinals and a 2-1 win in penalty kicks over O’Fallon in the championship.
The Tigers now have a 5-1 advantage over the Blue Devils in the past six regional championship games, including a 3-0 win in Edwardsville last season.
With five minutes to play Edwardsville goalie Trey Riley and defender Tristin Lieberman collided. Lieberman was battling with a Quincy player when his knee ran into a sliding Riley, who had to leave the game with cuts to the side of his face.
Heiderscheid said Riley was taken to the hospital after the game, where he was expected to receive a couple of stitches.