GENEVA – As the clock wound down in the second half of Thursday’s boys soccer match between St. Charles North and Geneva, it looked like the two Upstate Eight Conference River Division rivals would have to settle for a 1-1 tie.
Not so fast.
With 55.9 seconds left to play, the North Stars’ Ryan Olson headed a free kick into the net for the winning goal in North’s 2-1 victory.
It was also last-minute North Star heroics in the first half that knotted the score at 1-all.
The North Stars (2-0-1, 1-0 UEC River) tied the game with 28 seconds left in the first half.
A shot by Christopher Watson bounced off the crossbar and dropped behind Geneva goalkeeper Duncan Turnbull and into the goal.
“For our guys to come up and make a play at the end of the game, I’m certainly happy with that,” North coach Eric Willson said. “In the second half, we really started to put pressure on them and create more chances. We were watching the clock and hoping at some point someone was going to make a play for us and on one of our set plays, Ryan was able to get up and get the ball in for us.”
Said Olson: “It was a really big game for us, so we couldn’t just go for a tie. We scored that amazing goal in the first half by Watson and we just had to finish it off. I was going into the box and looking at the scoreboard and seeing the time I knew I needed to score this goal, and as soon as I saw the ball go up in the air I said, ‘This is mine,’ I went for it, and the ball went in.”
Geneva (1-1, 0-1) got on the board early in the game, at the 24:21 mark in the first half on a strike by Jason Lagger in front of the net.
“To lose in the final minute, that’s never a good feeling. We gave up a goal in the final minute of the first half and final minute of the second half. That’s tough to take,” Geneva coach Ryan Estabrook said. “We clearly can’t finish off a game, and that is frustrating because we had the same woes last year against quality teams. If we hope to be successful this year we need to make sure we can play a whole game.”
North put itself in position for the rally with Watson’s effort before intermission, as he beat Turnbull.
“I didn’t think it went in at first,” Watson said. “He’s so tall.”