Surprisingly, the rain stopped just before the Class 3A Joliet Central Girls Soccer Sectional championship match was set to begin Saturday.
Once Collinsville was able to score late in the first half, the Kahoks kept pouring it on against Normal Community.
Emily Holten’s goal with 3:45 left before halftime gave Collinsville a lead that was never threatened. Normal only got two shots on goal as the Kahoks earned a convincing 4-0 victory.
“They deserve a ton of credit. They’re really good at finishing in the box,” said Normal coach Matt Chapman, whose team finished 18-5-1. “They’ll find reasons to put the ball in that area from corners, free kicks and things like that, and they just finish.
“We had some great efforts defensively locking some of them down in the run of play, but they get in the box and they have that something extra.”
Second-half goals by Mikayla McCarthy, Sophia Sharos and Andrea Frerker helped lift Collinsville (20-3-1) into the Normal Super-Sectional against Palos Hills Stagg at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
While the rain stayed away for most of the match, the artificial field and ball were still slick from the earlier moisture.
Collinsville coach Clay Smith said the ball was bouncing too much and stressed during the intermission for his team to put the ball on his strikers’ feet. When the Kahoks did that, they were better able to use their speed advantage.
“In the second half, the game opened up more in the middle of the field, which is where we can expose some players,” Smith said. “Once we settled down, our girls kept the ball on the turf and we found feet and correct runs and gaps. It opened up a little bit, and we made some good things happen.”
Normal freshman goalkeeper Emma Spader made a diving save to rob Holten about 25 minutes into the first half. But when Spader lost control of the ball after stopping a 40-yard kick from Kitty Besserman, Holten was there to put in the rebound late in the first half.
Still, the Ironmen felt good about their chances at halftime.
“We’ve been down 1-0 before in three games (and won),” Normal senior forward Lizzie Woerner said. “We really went into the second half thinking we were going to get into it. Then another goal happened and we kept breaking down.”
Collinsville’s second goal with 30:38 left wasn’t exactly planned. Frerker took a shot inside the box that changed direction when it deflected off McCarthy and eluded Spader, who was going the other way.
“Andrea was taking a shot and I tried to move out of the way,” McCarthy said. “It hit off my butt and went in.”
Another redirect shot on purpose, this time from Sharos, put the Kahoks ahead 3-0. Frerker finished the scoring on a good feed from Chayse Richardson in the corner with 13:27 left.
“We battled with them for a long time and we had our share of possession in the first half,” Chapman said. “In the second half, I don’t know if we ran out of gas, but they just locked us down and created chances for themselves. The goal three minutes before half, momentum-wise, was a big goal. We ran into a better team today.”
Normal almost avoided the shutout when Alyssa Frazier’s blast from 35 yards out eluded Collinsville goalkeeper Morgan Lerch’s reach. But the ball hit the crossbar and bounced away.
Collinsville had 18 shots on goal.
“Give credit to our back four and goalkeeper. They played a great game,” Smith said. “We knew their offensive threats and we did a good job taking them out of the game and shutting them down and closing some paths.”
Chapman likes Collinsville’s chances in the final week of the season.
“They’re solid everywhere on the field. They’re a very good team and I feel they should go somewhere,” he said. “They have a chance to continue and do more than they have done.”