Collinsville used its head in its lastest victory in the girls soccer postseason.
Junior Kitty Besserman headed in a head-ball pass from senior Tori Ford at 67 minutes, 1 second Tuesday to lift the Kahoks past longtime Southwestern Conference rival Granite City 1-0 in the semifinals of the Class 3A Joliet Sectional at Edwardsville High.
“Chayse (Richardson) threw it in,” Besserman said referring to her junior teammate. “I realized there was no one (attacking) the goalie (senior Gabbie Hartin), so I was like, ‘Well, someone needs to go on.’ So I ran on it and then Tori got it and made a beautiful flick. I realized the goalie was jumping above me and I just tried to get a head on it and it went in.”
The Kahoks (19-3-1) will play Bradley-Bourbonnais or Normal in the championship game at 11 a.m. Saturday. Bradley-Bourbonnais and Normal will meet in the other semifinal at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Granite City, which lost to Collinsville 3-0 in the regular season, finished 11-10-2.
“I just told my girls, ‘Your own worse enemy today was the Kahoks,’” said Collinsville coach Clay Smith, whose team controlled the action but had nothing to show for it until the late stages of the second half. “Everybody in purple was their own worst enemy. We completely dominated play in the first half and created tons of chances.
“I’m proud of my girls. We kept our composure, kept on battling and found a way to put it in the back of the net.”
Players, coaches and fans were confused in the 64th minute when it appeared Collinsville senior Mikayla McCarthy had scored in front of the left post on a feed from senior Sophia Sharos.
The referee in the middle of the field blew his whistle and the clock stopped as the Kahoks began celebrating in front of the goal. However, the referee ruled McCarthy’s shot never cross the goal line, and Granite City gained possession of the ball.
Sophomore Lexi Grote pushed forward for a one-on-one opportunity against Collinsville junior keeper Julie Scheiter, who made not one save, but two to keep the game scoreless.
“I thought the ball went in the net,” Scheiter said of McCarthy’s shot. “I saw the net move. I was like, ‘All right, that’s a goal.’ I was celebrating, like, ‘Yeah, we’re up 1-0!’ Then their goalie kicked it out and Lexi Grote just came running at me. I said, ‘Oh, no, I better get ready.’
“I was just trying to stay composed and not get nervous about it.”
Smith hardly knew where to begin to describe the zaniness of the play.
“We had a ball that we thought was in the net and it was a little chaotic,” he said. “I’m really not sure what happened there. It worked out in our favor. Our goalie makes a huge save on a somewhat weird breakaway. ... I’ve never seen anything like it. We live to fight another day. We’ll have to look at it on tape and see exactly what happened. Luckily for us, it worked out to our advantage. The girls deserved the win and they got the win.”
Granite City coach Kenny Prazma, like Smith, was befuddled by the play.
“I don’t think anybody knew what was going on, other than I heard Coach Grote see the ball go to his daughter and say, ‘Keep playing, keep playing,’” Prazma said, referring to assistant Barry Grote. “Unfortunately, the girl (Scheiter) did make the save on Lexi. I don’t know if it would have counted in the end.”
Prazma was sure of one thing: McCarthy’s shot never crossed the line, even though Hartin grabbed the ball and booted it to near midfield like many goalies do after allowing a goal.
“I didn’t see it cross the line,” Prazma said. “The referee called no goal. He was going like this (with his arms) to show that there was no goal. Even the linesman said, ‘No goal.’ I know the girls from Collinsville were yelling. They thought it was a goal. ... It was just a weird play.”
In the first half, Kahoks sophomore Emily Holten hit the crossbar with a shot in the 16th minute. A free kick by Sharos after a Granite City foul in the 18th minute was caught by Hartin, and sophomore Andrea Frerker rocketed a shot off the football crossbar in the 22nd minute.
In the 46th minute, Holten’s shot from the left side richocheted off the far post before Hartin smothered it, and Sharos’ shot in the 54th minute forced Hartin to leave her feet for the save.
“You keep on flighting balls in the box like that and eventually you’re going to get on the tail end of them,” Smith said. “We were doing well getting to them; it was just a matter of finishing them off at the final end. We’ve worked on that hard this week.
“It was a great job by Tori to get there and a great follow by Kitty to put it in the back of the net. It’s big to get past these southern teams because they know us well. It’s hard to beat team twice in this conference. We have a tough road to go through and hopefully we’re not done yet.”