COLLINSVILLE — A year ago, the Edwardsville Tigers' season ended on a down note as they lost to Quincy in the regional semifinals at home.
With 10 returning players this season, the Tigers are setting their sights on clearing the regional tournament hurdle and making a trip to Naperville in early June.
“My goal for our team is to get to state,” Edwardsville senior defender Jane Ann Crabtree said. “That is my goal for us as a whole. I really hope that we can make it as long as we work hard.”
So far this season, the Tigers are 3-1-1 overall. They finished in a 1-1 tie with the Collinsville Kahoks on Thursday in their Southwestern Conference opener in Collinsville.
Both teams played 100 minutes of soccer under chilly conditions. The match was delayed for 25 minutes after Collinsville’s Alynnah O’Leary suffered an injury with 8:40 minutes left in the second overtime period.
“It was a very long night and it was kind of disappointing,” Crabtree said. “I’m not super upset with the ending score. However, I do believe it should have been a better game than that. Hopefully, we’ll have another time to get more prepared for postseason if we play them and when we play them. But I enjoy playing them every single game. It’s a competition and I love a challenge. I always look forward to playing them.”
O’Leary was carried off by an ambulance after running into the crossbar. Both teams went to their locker rooms during the delay.
“You never want to see that,” Edwardsville coach Abby Comerford said. “You never want to be in a conference match or in any game to see a player not only go down, but have an ambulance called. It’s never a good situation.”
Comerford said she was pleased that her team finished in a tie against a Collinsville team that placed fourth in the state last year.
“All around we played a great game,” she said. “The girls worked hard the entire night, so it was the case that you can’t fault the girls for their effort or anything like that. It’s just the case that we couldn’t capitalize on some of our opportunities to put them away.”
The Tigers began their season on March 14 with a 1-0 with over Springfield. After losing to Triad 2-1 on March 17, Edwardsville bounced back with back-to-back wins over Waterloo and Columbia.
On Thursday, the Tigers took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Abigail Crabtree with 27:16 left in the first half. Jocelyn Wagner recorded the assist.
“It was pure joy,” Jane Ann Crabtree said of her younger sister. “I was so excited for her. She’s been working so hard already and it’s just the beginning of the season and I’m looking forward to having the rest of the season with her. It’s our last season (together), so it’s a little bittersweet. I couldn’t have been happier when she scored. I was very excited.”
But the Kahoks, who are now 2-0-1, rallied to tie it at 1-1 on a goal by Emma Knobel with 19:43 left in the opening half. Knobel scored from 25 yards out for her first goal of the season.
The Crabtree sisters, Wagner, juniors Mallory Mushill, Taylor Hansen, Ashlin West and Allysiah Belt, sophomore Megan Woll, seniors Alison Blume and Mareea Gaines are the returning players from last year’s team that finished 15-5-2. Mushill and the Crabtree sisters were named to the all-Southwestern Conference team in 2015.
“We definitely have the talent,” said Comerford, who is in her seventh season as Edwardsville coach. “The entire group is a great team. The girls combined are not just the seniors or the juniors, but we have three freshmen who play on a regular basis. They’re not the only ones on the roster. So it’s the case that the team as a whole, they’re a great group of girls and we have high hopes this season.”
Comerford said the conference will be competitive this season. Last year, the Tigers finished in a tie for third with O’Fallon at 3-2-1.
“The Southwestern Conference is always tough,” Comerford said. “You always go into the season thinking anybody at any time can beat you.”
The Tigers’ next game will be at Cor Jesu at 4 p.m. on Monday.