Emily Holten wasn’t about to let an opportunity pass.
Holten, a junior, got the ball at the top of the box, cut it back and buried a shot into the right corner of the net from about 18 yards out with 7:57 to play in the second overtime, and it was the difference in Collinsville’s 2-1 victory over Glenbard East on Friday in the semifinals of the Class 3A girls state soccer tournament.
“The right side was wide-open,” said Holten, an all-state selection who leads the Kahoks with 25 goals. “The defenders were pushing me one way, but then I was wide-open on the other side and the goalie was marking the opposite side. ... I just had to keep shooting. We couldn’t give up.
“It feels amazing. It feels awesome. We made history. We’ve never gotten this far. Now we have to finish it, and (Saturday) is the day.”
It feels amazing. It feels awesome. We made history. We’ve never gotten this far. Now we have to finish it, and (Saturday) is the day.
Collinsville junior Emily Holten, who scored the deciding goal in the second overtime Friday
The victory was the 16th in a row for the Kahoks (22-1-2), who will meet defending champion New Trier (25-3-1) in the title game at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Collinsville coach Clay Smith heaved a sigh of relief when the final seconds of the second 10-minute overtime elapsed. Last year on the same field, Smith saw his best player, Sophia Sharos, suffer a broken leg in the semifinals of what proved to be a bitterly disappointing trip to the tournament that saw the Kahoks lose twice and finish fourth.
We just kept on plugging away, and that’s something we preach: Keep attacking with our weapons and good things will happen. (Holten’s goal) was the goal of the year, for a lot of reasons.
Collinsville coach Clay Smith
“In the pregame, I said I didn’t want to drive five hours and have one girl beat us,” Smith said, referring to Glenbard East senior star Brittany Paganucci, whose goal at 9 minutes, 48 seconds gave the Rams a 1-0 lead. “Nine minutes in, one girl beat us who we were supposed to have marked. She had a great finish on the goal, but it was our mistake.
“After that, we settled in and we dominated play. We just kept on plugging away, and that’s something we preach: Keep attacking with our weapons and good things will happen. (Holten’s goal) was the goal of the year, for a lot of reasons.”
Things didn’t look too bright for the Kahoks when Paganucci, who has signed with Illinois State, took a pass from senior Holly Ward, beat a Kahoks defender and scored past senior goalkeeper Julie Scheiter.
The Kahoks appeared unfazed by their deficit, as they rebounded quickly and controlled the action for the rest of the half despite being kept off the board.
Junior Dayle McEwen had a hard shot off a corner kick that was saved by Rams senior keeper Sierra Dana at 15:20.
In the 21st minute, Holten blistered a free kick that was saved but not controlled by Dana. Collinsville junior Alynnah O’Leary crossed the ball back into the box, and senior Hanna Liljegren hit a shot that was cleared off the line by junior defender Paige Taylor.
They put a lot of pressure up front going to the goal. Their set pieces are unbelievable. They’re all over the place on their set pieces, with tons of movement off the ball. We’re going to have to do a good job defensively, like we did today.
Clay Smith on playing the New Trier Trevians in the title game Saturday
In the 34th minute, sophomore Jalyn Richardson pushed a shot wide left with Dana protecting the right corner.
It was more of the same for Collinsville in the second half, as it set the pace. Finally, the Kahoks dented the scoreboard on harmless-looking play that began with a right-side corner kick by sophomore Emma Knoeble.
McEwen got the ball in the left side and popped it toward the goal, but Dana got too close to it. The ball bounced high off the turf and over Dana’s head. Dana quickly retreated, but by the time she got to the ball, it had rolled over the line to make it 1-1 at 54:18.
“We didn’t really have a back-post run, but I was the furthest player back,” McEwen said. “I was kind of turned away from the goal. I brought (the ball) down and I served it in for someone to run on. The goalie just misjudged it. I didn’t think I was going to score (on that).”
Glenbard East coach Kent Overbey said Dana felt horrible about her mistake. It was the first goal allowed by the Rams (23-5) in six postseason games.
“Sierra in the first half did an incredible job of keeping us in the game,” Overbey said. “It’s a high bounce. Those Wilson (balls) are very bouncy. It was a misread. Obviously, she feels horrible about it. But my point to her is she’s kept us in a ton of games this entire season. If she hadn’t made all those big saves Tuesday, we wouldn’t even be here.
“But that was the game and we’ve got to bounce back (Saturday).”
Glenbard East will play Huntley for third place at 5 p.m.
Scouting the Trevians
It could be a classic championship game. The Kahoks dominated southern Illinois this season, while New Trier has been the best team in Chicagoland.
“I’m very, very happy we didn’t go to PKs,” Smith said after the win Friday. “We’ll see how we respond (Saturday). We’re going to have heavy legs against a team that got to rest a lot of players (in a 4-0 win over Huntley). We’ll see.”
Smith said New Trier “is a great team.”
“We’re up for the challenge,” he said. “These girls are pumped right now. They’re psyched. It’s just a matter of enjoying this win, trying to get a good night’s sleep in a hotel, staying busy (Saturday) and keeping our legs fresh.
“They put a lot of pressure up front going to the goal. Their set pieces are unbelievable. They’re all over the place on their set pieces, with tons of movement off the ball. We’re going to have to do a good job defensively, like we did today.”