The last thing Collinsville needed Thursday night was an 0-3 start to its season. Seniors Alynnah O’Leary and Emily Holten made sure that didn’t happen.
O’Leary scored off a flick from Holten with 7:34 to play in the second overtime, lifting the Kahoks to a 1-0 victory over rival Edwardsville in the Southwestern Conference girls soccer opener for both teams.
“Alynnah made a super-good run, and the defenders were really confused, so I tried to find her as quick as I can,” Holten said. “She was there at the right time.”
Holten, the defending News-Democrat Player of the Year, could have attempted a shot, but saw O’Leary had a step on her defender.
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“I was looking for Alynnah mostly because I knew she was making that run,” Holten said. “I didn’t think I had the best angle at the time, so I was looking to play her.”
O’Leary connected past Tigers sophomore goalie Regan Windau from about 15 yards away.
“I saw it coming pretty fast, so I just tried to redirect it. It went my way. It was pretty exciting,” said O’Leary, who dislocated a finger on her right hand in the first half. “This is good for our confidence because we really needed a win to get us going this season.”
The Kahoks opened the season with losses to Chatham Glenwood (2-1) and Rockwood Summit (6-5).
“It was a must-win for a lot of reasons — for conference, for postseason seeds and for my girls mentally,” Collinsville coach Clay Smith said. “It’s a good group of athletes that work hard for me every single day.
“I feel great for my girls because we needed this win. ... We have a lot of learning and growth (to do), but we’ll skate out of here with this win.”
Edwardsville coach Abby Comerford said the loss was a letdown. The Tigers were playing well before Collinsville struck quickly and ended the contest.
“It was a great goal,” she said. “Over half these girls play with each other. It’s a big rival game. (The goal) happened in about three seconds. We have to recover and get it back.”
Holten had the first legitimate scoring chance of the game with five and a half minutes left in regulation.
She took a long pass, made an extended run and slipped around a defender for a one-on-one chance against Windau, who made an outstanding save to keep the game scoreless.
Smith was proud that Holten kept her head up enough to make the big assist in the second, 10-minute, sudden-death overtime.
“She’s a dynamic player, and I think she was beating herself up on the shot she missed in the second half when Windau made a great save on her,” Smith said. “That happens. That’s soccer.”
Comerford, whose team fell to 2-1, said it’s tough to fight an uphill battle in the league after losing to the Kahoks.
“We would really like to see Collinsville sometime in the middle of the season or the end of the season,” Comerford said. “It’s the first conference game, and it’s that first game after the Metro Cup (Tournament).”
Senior Morgan Lerch had the shutout in goal for the Kahoks.
Windau starred again in goal for the Tigers, who have dropped consecutive 1-0 games. The first was a 1-0 decision on penalty kicks against Triad.
Edwardsville has allowed only one goal on the season.