Penalty kicks in the postseason can be painful or euphoric. The O’Fallon High girls soccer team was on the good side of the ledger Wednesday.
The third-seeded Panthers outscored second-seeded Belleville West 4-2 in penalty kicks to register a 1-0 victory in the semifinals of the Class 3A O’Fallon Regional.
The teams battled to a scoreless draw for 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes. O’Fallon finally exhaled when the Maroons’ fourth shooter in the PK period, sophomore Kacie Kinnikin, shot wide right.
West’s third shooter, junior Amelia Coyne, saw her shot clang off the crossbar, and Panthers senior Alyssa Delia then connected to put her team in firm control.
“It feels great,” Delia said of the victory. “Especially because last year, they kicked us out of regionals. So it’s nice to have a little redemption for that. We wanted it really bad. Not saying they didn’t want it, because I know they did. It just all clicked for us tonight.”
O’Fallon (10-6-5), which lost to the Maroons 2-0 on May 5 in Belleville, won for the seventh time in eight games and will play top-seeded Collinsville (17-3-1) for the championship at 6 p.m. Friday. The Kahoks ripped fourth-seeded Belleville East 7-1 in the other semifinal.
Weather conditions are almost certain to be better. The games Wednesday were played on a rain-slickened field and temperatures in the upper-40s, with a brisk wind.
“Last game (against Collinsville), I didn’t think we played bad. We made a couple of mistakes and they capitalized on them,” O’Fallon coach Craig Dippel said. “Tonight, I thought we played well and attacked them pretty good; we created a lot.
“Sloppy conditions for both teams. The first half, it took a while to get used to the conditions. Gosh, we practiced when it was 82 degrees the last couple of days. The girls adjusted well to the conditions the second half. Overall, I couldn’t be prouder of our girls.”
Dippel said the Panthers were comfortable with penalty kicks.
“We’ve been working on them, (but) I know the girls were nervous,” he said. “It just shows their confidence and leadership. I would have been confident with five different (shooters) if needed.”
But it never got that far.
Senior Heather Jarvis scored first for the Panthers, but senior Carli Tastad followed with a conversion of her own to make it 1-1. After O’Fallon senior Kayla Wood scored, Maroons senior Taylor Vollmer came through to make it 2-2. Junior K.K. Vollmer followed with a goal to put the Panthers ahead 3-2. Coyne then misfired.
Delia scored to make it 4-2, meaning Kinnikin had to make her shot to extend the PK period to a final round. The Panthers celebrated after Kinnikin’s shot was off-target.
“It’s unfortunate to go to PKs for any team whatsoever,” Maroons coach Jason Mathenia said. “Unfortunately for us, the fact that we didn’t put the game away in the first half, the second half or overtime, we can only blame ourselves for that.”
Delia hit the right post with a shot less than five minutes into the second half as the Maroons (15-4-3) dodged a bullet. West senior Sydnee Carroll also hit the right post with a shot with three minutes left in the first overtime. The ball caromed back into play and rolled along the goal line before O’Fallon sophomore keeper Sydney Brake reversed direction and smothered it.
“We were lucky it didn’t go in,” Delia said of Carroll’s shot. “The same thing happened to them. So it was just one of those things where it really could have gone either way.”
West will graduate five players: Carroll, Tastad, Vollmer, Carly Ratay and Olivia Horton.
“I’m proud of the girls,” Mathenia said. “They had a great season, one of the best seasons we’ve had in many years. It ranks probably in the top five that we’ve ever had. I give them a lot of credit. Overall, we’re young. Hopefully, we’ll continue to be dangerous in the next few years.”
Collinsville 7, Belleville East 1
Sophomore Emily Holten scored three goals as the Kahoks easily advanced to the championship game and closed the Lancers’ season at 11-10-2.
Seniors Sophia Sharos and Abby Wicklein and juniors Kathryn Besserman and Chayse Richardson also scored goals for Collinsville, which has won eight of its last nine.
“We’re working really good off the field and on the field. We get along good, and that helps a lot,” Holten said. “Everybody is connecting passes and going forward.”
Sharos’ goal from inside the box in the 12th minute was followed by Besserman’s goal from 35 yards out in the 19th minute that it 2-0.
But the Lancers put a scare into the Kahoks in the 27th minute. Freshman Lauren Buschur’s shot from the left side of the box was knocked out by Collinsville sophomore keeper Morgan Lerch, and the ball rolled to the feet of freshman Olivia Lee, who finished the chance to make it 2-1.
Holten, however, scored two goals in the first half to give Collinsville a 4-1 lead at intermission. Wicklein, Holten and Richardson struck for second-half goals.
“In a regional semi, you never take any chances,” Kahoks coach Clay Smith said. “You have to score goals to stay in it. I think that’s the thing we stress to the girls. We have the potential to put in seven goals when we connect passes. Offensively, we were very good tonight against a strong defensive team that had been playing very well lately.”
The Lancers made dramatic progress in their second season under Erika Todd-Baptist, winning nine more games than last year. But the Kahoks were too much to handle.
“Their depth showed by leaps and bounds,” she said. “I told my team, ‘It’s not the quantity of shots, it’s the quality of shots.’ And they get quality shots. You can mark their goal-scorers, but on a good team, other players come forward and score goals.”