COLLINSVILLE — Lexi Schrimpf of the Alton Redbirds punched in her most important goal of the season Wednesday.
Then goalie Julia-May Campbell of the Birds provided her biggest save of the season.
Together, the juniors teamed to give Alton a memorable girls’ soccer win over Belleville East in a semifinal match of the Class 3A Collinsville Regional. It took 100 minutes, including a pair of 10-minute overtimes, plus two sets of penalty kicks to decide the marathon at Kahok Stadium.
Alton prevailed, 2-1, thanks to making 4 penalty kicks, 1 more than Belleville East.
“It was the biggest win of the season and the most nerve-wracking one,” AHS coach Jeff Hayes said.
The 12-5-3 Redbirds, avenging a 1-0 defeat to Southwestern Conference rival Belleville East last month, advanced to the 5 p.m. regional championship match Saturday against Collinsville. The host Kahoks walloped O’Fallon, 8-1, in the first match Wednesday. The win marked Alton's first over a SWC team this year. The Birds finished 0-4-2 on the league slate during the regular season.
Wednesday's triumph extended through the pair of OTS and into the second set of penalty kicks. Both teams made three PKS in five attempts the first round. Alton hit the crossbar on its first two shots, but regrouped to force a second round of PKs.
This time, the Redbirds took charge.
Schrimpf fired a PK past Lancers’ goalie Grace Tantillo to give the Redbirds an advantage.
“I really had a rush of adrenalin and I was ready for whatever,” Schrimpf said. “I waited and followed through on my shot. It worked.”
It sure did.
Campbell then waited for Belleville East’s Lauren Buschur to take her penalty kick. She stopped the shot and the Redbirds celebrated their hard-earned win.
“It really means a lot to move on,” Campbell said of the opportunity to meet Collinsville on Saturday. “This was very nerve-wracking.”
Schrimpf relished back-to-back thrills — her goal and Campbell’s save.
“It (save) was probably the biggest one because it finalized our win,” Schrimpf said. “This is exciting because it’s the first time that we are going to the regional finals.”
Hayes lauded the Redbirds for their perseverance.
“Tonight, it was really physical and at one point, we were chasing and they (Lancers) were controlling things,” he said.
Early on, the Redbirds appeared to be in command. Sophomore Katie Kercher scored in the 11th minute, thanks to Morgan Rauscher’s assist. Yet the Lancers found a way to respond.
Grace Brauer tallied a goal in the 28th minute, with Rylan Lopez logging an assist. It remained 1-1 until the first set of penalty kicks.
Bri Hatfield, Calista Cox and Sydney Schmidt converted on the Redbirds’ final three shots. The Lancers made their first try, then Campbell made a save. East responded with two in the net, but shot wide on its fifth attempt.
Schrimpf and Campbell made their magic work in the second set of PKs and the Redbirds made all the extra work and time worth it.
“It’s unfortunate that somebody has to lose in a match like this because it was really a tossup,” Hayes said. “And when we got down in the first set of penalty kicks that made it tough. But we came back and did a pretty good job.”
Schrimpf added, “I knew it was going to be an interesting game. And it was back and forth the whole way.”
CLASS 3A COLLINSVILLE REGIONAL
ALTON 2, BELLEVILLE EAST 1 (Two sets of PKs)
Belleville East 1 0 (0) (0) – 1
Alton 1 0 (0) (0) – 1
Note: Both teams made three penalty kicks in the first set. Alton then outscored Belleville East 1-0 in PKs during the second one.
A – Katie Kercher (Morgan Rauscher), 11th minute
BE – Grace Brauer (Ryan Lopez), 28th minutes
Shots: Belleville East 13, Alton 9
Corner kicks: Belleville East 2, Alton 1
Saves: Julia-May Campbell (Alton) 6, Grace Tantillo (Belleville East) 3