HAMPSHIRE – Mother Nature just wanted to extend the suspense.
Marian Central and Hampshire played to a 2-2 tie at the end of regulation in the IHSA Class 2A Hampshire boys soccer regional final Saturday, and but as the first overtime period was about to begin, the skies opened, the lightning started and fans and players began running for their cars.
An hour later, officials postponed the match until 5 p.m. Monday, when it will resume at the start of overtime. The first team to score will win instantly and advance to the Lakes Sectional, where it will face Lakes at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in a sectional semifinal.
Knowing that the match could be decided in minutes – two days rather than 10 minutes after the end of regulation – adds a completely different dynamic, but the small break will allow players to regain their strength, Hampshire coach John Gosling said, and give them time to refocus.
“It gives us time to recover,” he said. “It’s going to be exciting, and it’s tough to prepare for [a sudden death] situation. Do you put an extra player up top? Do you keep the same strategy? Now that we’ll be fresh we may have to make a change. We’ll see.”
Hampshire (15-6-1) got on the board first when Andrew Obmalay scored 11 minutes into the first half off a pass from Jason Bishop.
The Whip-Purs went ahead 2-0 with 32:19 left in the second half. Sophomore Robert Lucio’s shot from the left side of the penalty area, off a pass from teammate Brian Contreras, settled inside the right side of the Hurricanes’ net.
Marian (22-2) cut its deficit to 1 on Troy Higgins’ goal with 25:34 left in the second half, and Zack Radwanski tied the score at 2 at the 18:03 mark with a goal off his own free kick.
The Hurricanes had 11 opportunities in the first half off corner kicks, but couldn’t push in a goal – a frustrating scenario for coach Kristian Rockall, who has seen his team have success off set pieces all year.
“We have come from behind a lot this season, so it was not an unfamiliar situation for us,” Rockall said. “We felt like we played well in the first half, so our halftime talk just centered around keeping a positive attitude.”