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COLLINSVILLE - A pair of first-half goals from Olivia Baca and Ella Cook proved to be the difference as Edwardsville defeated Alton 2-1 in the IHSA Class 3A girls soccer regional final Friday evening at Kahok Stadium in Collinsville.
The Tigers won their fifth consecutive regional championship in the rubber match between the two sides, both teams splitting their regular-season games.
The Redbirds won at Tiger Stadium 2-0 on Apr. 7, while the Tigers took the return match at Public School Stadium 3-2 on May 10.
In the final, Edwardsville got the all-important first goal after 11 minutes when Coll took a clearance attempt in the Redbird third and slotted the ball past Peyton Baker to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Edwardsville doubled the lead when a Cook header in the 33rd minute found the back of the net to take the Tigers into a 2-0 lead, which is where the score stood at the interval.
Alton came out in the second half in full attack mode, and pulled to within 2-1 in the 55th minute when a free-kick by Tori Schrimpf hit off the bar into the path of Alayna Rabozzi, who calmly tapped the ball in.
Baker helped keep it 2-1 when she made a big save off a shot from Mea Hook, but the Edwardsville defense was solid and practically impenetrable as the Tigers took the win and advanced.
The Tigers are now 13-8-0 and move on to the Normal Community sectional, where they will play defending Class 3A champion O'Fallon, a 6-0 winner over Granite City in the Belleville West final, Tuesday night at Kahok Stadium, with the kickoff time to be announced.
The winner moves on to the last 16 in the final at Normal Community May 27 against the host Iron, Bradley Bourbonnais or Moline, with a kickoff time of 5 p.m. The Redbirds conclude their season 17-5-0.