High School Sports

One step from state: Collinsville girls soccer team to face Lincoln-Way North in Joliet

Collinsville’s girls soccer team will gladly match its talent against any opponent in the state.

But the Kahoks (20-1-2) aren’t thrilled about a 250-mile trip to Joliet High for their Class 3A super-sectional game against Lincoln-Way North (16-7-1) at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Phoenix must travel 19 miles from Frankfort to play the game.

“It doesn’t seem very fair, does it?” Collinsville coach Clay Smith said.

The Illinois High School Association said on its website that the super-sectional would be moved to an alternate site in central Illinois if necessary. What would have made that necessary is if a team from southern Illinois won the Normal Sectional.

We’re definitely healthier, we’re a little deeper, we’re more fit and we’re a year older.

Collinsville girls soccer coach Clay Smith on the differences between this season and last season

Indeed, the Kahoks accomplished that assignment Friday with a 6-0 victory over Normal. However, instead of making both Collinsville and Lincoln-Way North travel similar distances to play the game, the IHSA decided Sunday to keep the game in Joliet.

“There are plenty of soccer fields between here and Frankfort, Ill.,” Smith said. “And the start time is 4:30, so I don’t even know how many of our fans can even travel to go.”

The winner of the Joliet Super-Sectional will play in the state tournament at 7 p.m. Friday at North Central College in Naperville, against Naperville North or Glenbard East. Naperville North and Glenbard East will meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Romeoville Super-Sectional at Lewis University.

Ready to roll

Smith vows the Kahoks will be prepared to play, regardless of the circumstances. Collinsville, which finished fourth in the state tournament last year, has won 14 consecutive games and boasts a deep and talented attack that puts opponents on its heels.

The Kahoks’ only loss came 2-1 to Visitation on April 2.

“Hopefully, that’s going to be a problem (for Lincoln-Way North),” Smith said of the Kahoks’ abundance of offensive talent. “I don’t know if they’ve seen a team with as many offensive weapons as we have. Hopefully, we can surprise them and get a quick, early goal and then keep applying pressure.”

Junior forward Emily Holten tops the Kahoks with 22 goals and 14 assists. Junior forward Tayler Devine has 15 goals and six assists and junior Alynnah O’Leary has 12 goals and five assists. Junior Andrea Frerker (seven goals, nine assists) is a force in the midfield, and senior defender Chayse Richardson’s strong flip throws have helped her post 10 assists.

Senior Caydren Jones and juniors Dayle McEwen and Danielle Knutson also are mainstays on defense. Senior Julie Scheiter and junior Morgan Lerch share time in goal.

Holten had three goals in the victory over Normal.

“We played well,” Smith said. “That was a satisfying win.”

Smith said Collinsville is playing better at this juncture of the season than it was last year.

“We started off, I wouldn’t say slow, but we had trouble putting the ball in the net,” Smith said. “You could tell the keys were there; we just had to figure it out a little bit and get some chemistry. It’s the postseason and we’re playing right where we need to be. We’re definitely healthier, we’re a little deeper, we’re more fit and we’re a year older.”

Scouting the Phoenix

Lincoln-Way North reached the super-sectional Friday by defeating Sandburg 2-1 in the championship game of the Lincoln-Way North Sectional. The Phoenix outscored the Eagles 4-2 in penalty kicks to stay advance.

“They’re a very good defensive team,” Smith said. “They’re organized in the back, they play real hard and they have a couple of dangerous (offensive) players. I think they’re comparable to a lot of (Southwestern Conference teams) and could play with a lot of them. They play good, hard soccer and when they score a goal, they defend well and don’t give up goals easily.”

They play good, hard soccer and when they score a goal, they defend well and don’t give up goals easily.

Clay Smith on the Lincoln-Way North Phoenix, the Kahoks’ opponent Tuesday

Lincoln-Way North’s top players are junior center midfielder Bianca Galassini and senior forward Rachel Pappas, an all-state selection last year.

Junior Ava Eggert, sophomore Carolyn Waleski and senior Carly Marchal are the Phoenix’s other top defenders in front of sophomore goalkeeper Maria Fields.

Smith said the Kahoks can’t be deceived by the Phoenix’s seven losses.

“They’re dangerous,” Smith said. “At this time of year, you’re not going to find anybody that’s not a good soccer team. There’s a reason they’re in the Elite Eight. Even though their record may not be as good as anybody else’s or maybe they weren’t the (No.) 1 seed in the regional, that doesn’t mean anything at this time of year. You still have to go out and play.

“They’re riding a really high roller-coaster right now and they’re going to come into our game fired up and ready to play. And you’ve got the travel time. That’s what worries me the most – how we’re going to come off that bus after that long travel.”

Lincoln-Way North will not reopen in the fall because of a financial crisis in District 210. Lincoln-Way Central, Lincoln-Way East and Lincoln-Way West will remain open. 

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm