The last touch of the last regular season home game in Grant Bauer’s Kahok career gave was an overtime winner.
The road to Collinsville’s 2-1 overtime win over Alton started with an early 1-0 deficit for the second straight night. The Redbirds (11-6-3, 2-4 Southwestern Conference) scored their lone goal 5 minutes and 15 seconds into the match. The advantage stood for 60 minutes.
Tanner Przybysz put the ball in play off a free kick late in the second half that found Jordan Smith about seven yards in front of the net. Using his body to box out two defenders, Smith soared up to head the ball past the goalkeeper to tie the game for the Kahoks (10-9-1, 4-2 SWC) with 14:16 remaining in regulation. Przybysz got the assist on the play.
Both teams had chances to untie the match in the final 10 minutes. Bauer nearly gave the Kahoks the lead with 1:22 remaining when he hammered the ball on goal. The Redbird goalkeeper dove to his right to make the save. The ball bounded off the keepers hands before ricocheting off the crossbar. Brett Niedzwiecki’s sliding save 22 seconds later preserved the tie.
Collinsville began to assert themselves late in the second half and in overtime, controlling the flow of the game and creating better opportunities. Head Coach Myles Hensler said the team was still adjusting from playing on the muddy field Wednesday night.
“We were having trouble transitioning back into the style of play we like, which is a possession type of play,” Hensler said. “As the game wore on, I think Alton got a little tired and we were able to control the pace.”
Two minutes into the first overtime, Smith found a sliver of space in front of the goal and lunged forward to tap a shot towards the goal. The ball beat the goalkeeper, but dribbled just right of the post.
Bauer made the most of his next chance. With 6:22 remaining in the opening overtime period, Smith hit the ball forward to Bauer, who came sprinting in on goal, jumped up and jammed the ball in to the back of the net to send the senior night crowd home happy. Smith was credited with the assist.
Hensler said the tough win against a quality opponent will be something the Kahoks will build on heading into Regionals.
Collinsville faces O’Fallon in the Regionals for the fourth straight year when the two teams do battle beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Kahok Stadium. The Panthers have ended Collinsville’s season the last three years.
Belleville East and Belleville West begin the Collinsville Regional with a 5 p.m. match at Kahok Stadium.