High School Sports

Collinsville girls soccer team hopes for even brighter days ahead

The Collinsville Kahoks finished in second place at the Class 3A girls soccer tournament over the weekend, defeating Glenbard East 2-1 in two overtimes Friday before falling 4-0 to New Trier in the title contest Saturday on the campus of North Central College.

It was the highest finish by the Kahoks in the state tournament. They placed fourth in 1988 under coach Dave Jenkins and fourth last season under coach Clay Smith.

Smith’s second successive trip to the state tourney was more pleasant than his first. But the Kahoks ran into an avalanche in the championship game against the Trevians.

New Trier, with six Division I signees in its starting lineup, galloped to a 3-0 halftime lead and tacked on a second-half goal to capture its third consecutive state title. Collinsville, which finished 22-2-2, hadn’t allowed more than two goals in a game all season.

They had us back on our heels a lot. We did do some good things, but they’re skilled in every single position on that field. There’s not a weak link in the 11. That’s them. That’s why they’ve won three (titles) in a row. We’re happy with our successes this season. We’ll see where we go from here.

Collinsville girls soccer coach Clay Smith on his team’s loss to New Trier in the Class 3A title game Saturday

The Trevians (26-3-1) haven’t allowed a postseason goal since 2013.

“I think (tired) legs were an issue,” Smith said. “Obviously, we played 100 minutes of soccer (Friday) night and didn’t use much of our bench. (New Trier) had a 4-0 game (Friday) night and played about the last 25 minutes with reserves, so they got a little more rest than we did.”

The game against New Trier started off on a sour note when the Kahoks crossed a ball directly to the front of the goal, but the Trevians escaped the danger when no Collinsville player was in the vicinity for what would have been an easy tap-in and a 1-0 lead in the first minute.

“If that goes in, you never know,” Smith said. “But that’s soccer.”

New Trier continued to be steadily pressured by a hungry Kahoks attack led by senior Chayse Richardson’s dangerous throw-ins. On offense, the Trevians caught fire.

USC recruit Natalie Laser, Caroline Iserloth and DePaul signee Bina Saipi scored first-half goals to build New Trier’s 3-0 advantage at the intermission. Kelly Maday, who has signed with Illinois, produced the final goal early in the second half to settle the matter.

“They had us back on our heels a lot,” Smith said. “We did do some good things, but they’re skilled in every single position on that field. There’s not a weak link in the 11. That’s them. That’s why they’ve won three (titles) in a row. We’re happy with our successes this season. We’ll see where we go from here.”

Last year, Smith said the Kahoks were just satisfied to get to state. They lost 3-1 to Neuqua Valley in the semifinals and to 2-1 to Barrington in the third-place game.

“Last year, we were very happy to get here,” Smith. “I think we were just happy to have the accomplishment of making it to the Final Four because it’s not easy to do. This year, we played well. We deserved to win (Friday) night. I just think it took a little wind out of our sails (to not) come out and put the ball in the net in the first two minutes. We’re happy with second.”

Collinsville will enter next season as perhaps the metro-east’s No. 1 contender for a state championship despite the graduation losses of seven seniors, including Richardson, Hanna Liljegren, goalie Julie Scheiter and Caydren Jones. Kitty Besserman, who didn’t play this season because of a torn ACL in her left knee, also graduated.

Richardson is headed for Missouri S&T, while Besserman will play at Indiana State.

This was a great group (of seniors) and they’re going to have great futures. They’re all so smart. They’re great girls to coach. I’ve said it all along: Great players make good coaches. There’s nothing special that I’m doing here that a soccer coach can’t do. These girls are spectacular. They buy into what I’m telling them and they make us look good.

Collinsville girls soccer coach Clay Smith

“This was a great group (of seniors) and they’re going to have great futures,” Smith said. “They’re all so smart. They’re great girls to coach. I’ve said it all along: Great players make good coaches. There’s nothing special that I’m doing here that a soccer coach can’t do. These girls are spectacular. They buy into what I’m telling them and they make us look good.

“They were a great group to be around and I love them to death.”

Among the returnees will be all-state selections Emily Holten and Andrea Frerker, Tayler Devine, Alynnah O’Leary, Courtney Marten, Dayle McEwen, goalie Morgan Lerch, Jayln Richardson, Bianca Cortez, Danielle Knutson, Emma Knoebel and Riley Harris.

“It’s tough to say,” Smith said of the odds of returning to Naperville. “It would be great. It’s great to get here and it’s a great feeling. I feel like we’re leaving on a better note this year.”

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm

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