Don’t think for a moment that the Collinsville boys soccer team has forgotten what happened to it last year.
The Kahoks were eliminated by Quincy 1-0 in penalty kicks in the regional-championship game, but they’ll get another shot at the Blue Devils in the semifinals of the Class 3A Peoria Notre Dame Sectional at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in a game that will be played at Belleville West.
Quincy placed second in the 3A state tournament last season.
“We’ve always brought it up all year,” Collinsville coach Clay Smith said of the season-ending loss to the Blue Devils in 2015. “It was the first thing we talked about the first day of practice. We always bring it up.
“Given the fact that they knocked us out last year, and the fact that our boys have a lot of confidence coming into this game, it should be a very fun soccer game to watch.”
The winner Tuesday will face Peoria Notre Dame or Minooka in the championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Peoria Notre Dame.
We’ve always brought it up all year. It was the first thing we talked about the first day of practice. We always bring it up. Given the fact that they knocked us out last year, and the fact that our boys have a lot of confidence coming into this game, it should be a very fun soccer game to watch.
Collinsville boys soccer coach Clay Smith on facing Quincy in the sectional
Collinsville (11-7-2) is playing its best soccer of the season, with four consecutive wins. The Kahoks, who won the Southwestern Conference, took down Edwardsville 2-1 in penalty kicks Friday to earn the championship of the Granite City Regional on a muddy field.
Smith said the Kahoks are operating under the radar.
“I don’t know if my boys are getting a lot of credit, really, for how they’re playing or what they’re doing,” he said. “A lot of what they’ve heard or seen ... People are blaming the playing conditions at Granite City for what we did, calling it an ugly game of soccer. Both teams had to play in those conditions. I didn’t think it was that terrible.
“Our boys are just playing really well right now at the right time, so I’m going to give them a little credit to be able to beat a top-seeded team.”
Sophomore Logan Whitehead and senior Sabas Avalos are the Kahoks’ top goal-scorers with eight apiece. Senior Josh Wobbe has seven goals, while senior Clay Hartman and junior Hunter Counton each have four. Senior Brett Ziedzwiecki has posted seven shutouts, 91 saves and has a 1.21 goals-against average.
“It’s a great problem to have for us,” Smith said of an offense that lacks a superstar, but instead spreads the wealth. “We’re putting a lot of pressure on other teams’ back lines. The goalie, when we have that speed coming forward at him, he has to make sure he wins that ball because our kids are fast and are playing so hard. They’ll win that second ball if (the goalie) can’t get to the first one.”
Defensively, the Kahoks rely on Hartman, senior Jordan Blasingame, senior Jared Brooke, sophomore Zach Cawvey, senior Zach Stenger and senior Jesus Valverde.
The Blue Devils (14-5-2), coached by Matt Longo, won the O’Fallon Regional on Saturday with a 2-0 victory over the host Panthers. Senior Drew Chisholm scored both goals to give him a team-high 18.
Senior midfielder T.J. Sohn (10 goals) is one of the top players in the state. Junior Mark Cleveland has played well in goal all season.
“We’re going to have our hands full,” Smith said. “Quincy is a well-coached, organized, good team. They have some very athletic kids. They play a difficult formation to play against, so it will be very interesting. But I think my guys are ready for it. It’s a good time to be in this position. These boys are playing like they have nothing to lose.
“We hope to defend well and keep them off the board.”
Smith said Sohn is a tough match for any team.
“He’s very good,” Smith said. “He was a preseason All-America candidate and he’s very dangerous. He knows where to go during the game and makes himself available to get those loose balls. Once he has it on his foot, if you give him any space, you’re in trouble.”
It’s not just Sohn, however.
“They have No. 5, Chisholm, who can score goals,” Smith said. “He plays in the middle of the field with (Sohn). And (Pierre) Jacobs and (Dalton) Gilbert are deadly on the attack. They’re just an all-around, good, athletic soccer team. They play the game right.”
Gilbert and sophomore Jaeden Smith have nine goals apiece.