EDWARDSVILLE — Last year's Class 3A regional championship match was something the Granite City Warrior girls' soccer team would like to forget.
The Warriors lost to Edwardsville in penalty kicks in the regional title match at Gene Baker Field, making it the third year in a row Granite City was eliminated by the Tigers in regional tournament play.
"The feeling was indescribable," Granite City senior goalkeeper Gabbie Hartin said. "I kind of blamed myself and I thought, ‘What more could I have done?’"
When they played the Quincy Blue Devils in the Class 3A Edwardsville Regional championship match
on Friday at the District 7 Sports Complex, the Warriors made sure they weren't going to be empty handed again.
Granite City came from behind to beat Quincy 2-1 in overtime to win its first regional championship since 2011, the same year the Warriors won their first state title. It's also Granite City's first regional title in Kenny Prazma's four-year tenure as the school's head coach.
"Last year, we came so close in penalty kicks with Edwardsville," Prazma said. "I told the girls, especially the seniors, that they've been here for four years and we haven't won one yet."
Junior Shelby Winn scored the game-winning goal with 2.6 seconds left in the first overtime period. She received a corner-kick pass from senior Ashleigh Briggs and kicked the ball past Quincy goalkeeper Anna Stock for her third goal of the season.
"She comes in off the bench and usually gives us some pretty good moments," Prazma said. "She's small, but she has a little bit of fire in her. She uses her moves pretty well and she uses both feet pretty well, so we're excited to get her in there. Sometimes being a little height-challenged is a little tough, but she plays pretty well."
After Quincy took a 1-0 lead on a goal by junior Alex Peters with 10 minutes, two seconds left in the first half, the Warriors came back to tie it at 1-1 on a header by senior Leann Smith with 26:57 remaining in the second half. Smith received a corner-kick pass from Briggs and scored her first goal of the season.
After Winn scored her goal in the first overtime, the Warriors and Blue Devils played a second 10-minute overtime period. There is no sudden death overtime in postseason play.
The Warriors (11-8-3) will return to Edwardsville at 6 p.m. Tuesday, when they play the Collinsville Kahoks in a Class 3A Joliet Central sectional semifinal match. Collinsville, which won the Southwestern Conference title this year, beat O'Fallon 2-1 in the Class 3A O'Fallon Regional championship match on Friday.
Hartin said she is thrilled to be part of a regional championship team in her senior season.
"I think all the hard work we've put in all season has definitely been worth it," Hartin said. "We knew we had to win this in order to get a second shot at Collinsville."
The winner of Tuesday's match will advance to play in the sectional championship match at 11 a.m. on May 30 at Joliet Central High School.
Collinsville will take a 17-3-1 record into Tuesday's match with the Warriors. The Kahoks beat Granite City 3-0 on April 23 at Collinsville to finish 6-0 in Southwestern Conference play.
"We have to have heart," Granite City senior midfielder Kendell Paterson said. "It's whoever wants it most and that's what it will come down to. It's going to be a very tough match."
Paterson is playing in her first season with Granite City girls' soccer team this spring after playing at Collinsville the last three years. She transferred to Granite City last summer.
"My grandma was very sick and my grandpa couldn't take care of her all by himself, so me and mom had to move in with them and take care of her," Paterson said.
Paterson is playing for a Granite City team that has turned things around since a 2-1 loss to Edwardsville on April 28. The Warriors are 7-0-1 in their last eight matches and have matched their win total from last season.
"Our record says nothing about us," Paterson said. "We have heart and we play as hard as we can. Just because we didn't have as good of a record this year, we're coming on strong at the end. That's what matters."
Quincy finished its season at 8-11-4. The Blue Devils, who captured their last regional crown in 2010, advanced to the regional title match by upsetting top-seeded Edwardsville 3-2 in a regional semifinal match on Tuesday.
"Quincy is a good team," Prazma said. "They played hard. They played us like they played Edwardsville. They kind of packed in the back and made it difficult for our forwards to penetrate other than knocking balls in from the side. The only goals we scored were from the corner kicks. They made it a little bit tough to Grace (Neidhardt) and Lexi (Grote) to get up and get us some decent shots."
The Warriors played Quincy for the first time since 2009, when they beat the Blue Devils 2-0 in a Class 3A regional championship match at Quincy.