High School Sports

Collinsville, Edwardsville earn wins, will meet for regional soccer title

The Collinsville Kahoks continued to spread the wealth Tuesday.

Four different players scored for the fourth-seeded Kahoks as they posted a 4-1 victory over fifth-seeded Alton in the semifinals of the Class 3A Granite City Regional.

Collinsville (10-7-2) has amassed eight goals in its last two games, both against Alton, with senior forward Sabas Avalos the only player with more than one.

“That’s huge for us because we’ve had trouble putting the ball in the net,” Kahoks coach Clay Smith said. “We’ve had to move a lot of people around and be creative with it, and it’s worked out for us so far. Hopefully, we get some rest (Wednesday), get back at it Thursday and get our legs and give the Tigers a game Friday.”

Collinsville will play top-seeded Edwardsville (14-1-5) for the championship at 5 p.m. Friday. The Tigers, who defeated seventh-seeded Granite City 5-0 in the other semifinal Tuesday, blanked the visiting Kahoks 4-0 on Sept. 13 in the teams’ only other meeting.

Junior Hunter Counton, sophomore Zane Baker, Avalos and senior Josh Wobbe scored in the latest conquest of Alton. Counton scored on a header off a corner kick from sophomore Zach Cawvey at 27 minutes, 36 seconds. Baker tallied from a sharp angle on the left side at 39:01 to boost the Kahoks’ advantage to 2-0 at the intermission.

Key moments

After the rejuvenated Redbirds (14-6-2) inched within 2-1 seven minutes into the second half on a well-placed free kick from 30 yards away by senior C.J. Nasello, Avalos had a header and Wobbe scored in a scrum in front to settle the matter.

Avalos’ goal was a thing of beauty. It started with a tremendous pass from midfield by senior Jesus Valverde, who popped the ball into the air as Avalos was building a head of steam. Avalos let the ball bounce once, then headed it over Alton senior keeper Braden Flanigan to extend Collinsville’s lead to 3-1.

Avalos’ goal, which came at 60:29, followed a long stretch in which the Redbirds controlled the pace and pinned in the Kahoks.

“The second half, we struggled in the first 15 minutes,” Smith said. “We told them at halftime that they were going to bring it a little bit. We have to do a better job of that going into our game on Friday, handle that pressure.

“The ball (from Valverde) was great, but I was more proud of Sabas’ effort of not stopping and getting to that ball. That’s something we’ve worked with him on all season, just running through those last defenders and seeing what happens. It was a huge goal because (Alton) had a lot of momentum right there. They pressed hard.”

It was a tough loss for the Redbirds, who will graduated 17 seniors.

“We came out hot in the second half like we have all year,” Alton coach Nick Funk said. “We’ve played with injuries these last few games. That’s tough. It’s hard to overcome stuff like that. I’m proud of them. They played hard. A few mental errors are what gave up the goals.

“(Collinsville) took it to us twice. So there’s nothing really to say about injuries. You’ve got to step up and overcome. It is what it is.”

Edwardsville 5, Granite City 0

Tigers senior goalie Daniel Picchiotti made a sensational save on a breakaway shot by junior Zach Medlin eight minutes into the game, and from that point, Edwardsville dominated.

The Tigers got goals from junior Alec Mills (penalty kick), senior Mohammad Hamad and senior John Wasmuth in the first half before sophomore Josh Reed and senior Michael Picchiotti chipped in with goals in the second half.

“(Medlin) hit it kind of softly, so I was able to react to it and save it,” Daniel Picchiotti said of his key save. “It changes the game. He hit it and the grass sort of slowed it down. It was more reaction than guessing (which way he would go).”

It was the only shot on goal for the Warriors (5-10-6), who allowed 24 by Edwardsville. Granite City suffered its first loss of the season on its home turf.

“There are key moments in games that kind of turn things,” Edwardsville coach Mark Heiderscheid said. “Any time there’s a breakdown like that, if all of a sudden it goes in, then it becomes a tight situation.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm