The Watterson High School boys soccer team didn't panic when it found itself tied with Coshocton at the end of regulation in a Division II regional final Nov. 2 at Zanesville.
Instead, the Eagles continued to create scoring opportunities until converting a corner kick with five minutes remaining in the first 15-minute, sudden-victory overtime to earn a 2-1 win.
Watterson improved to 17-4 with its second regional championship and advanced to play Cincinnati Indian Hill in a state semifinal Nov. 6 at Hilliard Bradley.
"Going into overtime, we talked about how we had been in this position before and knew what we needed to do to win, and we felt confident we could win this game if we continued to play the way we played in the second half," said forward Paul Mokrzan, whose team beat DeSales 1-0 in overtime in a district final Oct. 26. "In the second half, we were the more collected team and we had a lot more motivation and desire to win the game than the other team had, so we just carried that over into overtime until we were able to score a goal to beat them."
In overtime, midfielder Michael Gilbert served a corner kick into the box and defender Sam DeCocker headed the ball into the net, just underneath the crossbar, to give the Eagles the victory.
"We passed the ball quickly through the midfield and earned that corner kick and we did a good job of finishing that opportunity," Mokrzan said. "We had the ball in their end most of the second half and were in their box at least 15 times in the second half, so it felt great to finally score that goal to win the game."
The Eagles took a 1-0 lead in the first half on a goal by forward Sam Magee, but Coshocton scored less than three minutes later.
Goalkeeper Trevor Funk had seven saves for Watterson, whose only other state semifinal appearance occurred in 2010, when it lost to Dayton Carroll 4-1. Carroll, which won the past three state titles, lost to Indian Hill 2-1 in a district final Oct. 26.
"We served a long ball into the box and Sam sprinted past their defenders and hit it past their goalie," Mokrzan said. "One of our weaknesses is how we play for the next 10 minutes after we score a goal, and unfortunately, they scored on an indirect kick a few minutes after we scored."
The Watterson-Indian Hill winner advanced to the state final at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 9, at Crew Stadium, where it will face Bay Village Bay or Richfield Revere.
On Nov. 2, Bay defeated St. Marys Memorial 3-0 in a regional final to improve to 15-5-1 and Revere beat Hunting Valley University School 2-1 in overtime in a regional final to improve to 19-0-2.
"It would be a dream come true to play in Crew Stadium in the state final," said Mokrzan, who had a team-high 12 goals through 21 games. "To win a state title, we'll need to play with confidence and we'll need to work on transitioning the ball to our midfielders and forwards. We also have to keep our composure and not worry about every single call."
The Eagles defeated Vincent Warren 2-1 in a regional semifinal Oct. 30 at Bloom-Carroll behind two goals from forward Zach Storc and six saves by Funk.
"(It was a) very hard fought victory," coach Chad Smith said of the game against Warren. "Zach Storc scored two great goals. We had to make a couple of adjustments on the defensive side of the ball. Michael Gilbert stepped up big for us, moving to the back and solidifying our defense."
Season ends for girls soccer team
The girls soccer team fell one win shy of advancing to a state semifinal for the second time in program history, losing to Pickerington North 2-0 in a Division I regional final Nov. 2 at Gahanna to finish 13-3-4.
Goalie Marissa Wierzbicki had two saves for the Eagles, whose only state appearance came in 1998.
"They are definitely a real good team and they put their shots away," midfielder Ellie Ganz said of North. "We fought until the last minute and we had our chances, but we weren't able to finish them."
Watterson had rallied to defeat Hilliard Davidson 2-1 in a regional semifinal Oct. 29 at Dublin Jerome.
The Wildcats scored six minutes into the game, but the Eagles got goals from Ganz and forward Emily Ganz to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. Watterson limited Davidson's scoring chances in the second half.
"We came out a little timid and complacent and I knew if we did that that they would put their opportunities away," coach Alex Portier said. "But our team is battle-tested after playing a tough regular-season schedule and our players knew what to do because we've been down in games and have come back before."
Wierzbicki had six saves against Davidson.
"We stayed calm after giving up a goal and it wasn't long before we came back and scored," Emily Ganz said. "On my goal, I saw the ball coming and my sister was right behind me telling me to leave it, but I decided to hit it anyway and, for some reason, it went in."
Ellie Ganz, who finished with a team-high 18 goals, wasn't surprised that her younger sister ignored her instruction.
"I had a better angle for a shot, but she never listens to me," Ellie Ganz said, laughing. "I'm just glad her shot went in or it could have been a long ride home."
Football team falls short of playoffs
The football team snapped a three-game losing streak by beating host Jonathan Alder 38-14 on Nov. 1, but the win wasn't enough to get the Eagles into the playoffs.
Watterson finished 3-6 and was 11th in the final Division IV, Region 13 computer ratings, as the top eight teams qualified for the playoffs.
The Eagles entered the contest against Jonathan Alder averaging just 9.4 points but had one of their most productive games offensively of the season, amassing 324 total yards, including 250 on the ground.
Quarterback Sam Maglicic completed nine of 11 passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and rushed six times for 77 yards and a score and running back Walter Green had nine rushes for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Cody Calhoun added five carries for 34 yards and a score, tight end Alec Greene had two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown and wide receivers Patrick Roark and Alex Loscko each had two catches.
Also against the Pioneers, Michael Harper made a 42-yard field goal and Calhoun had seven tackles from his defensive back position.