Catholic Central High School’s boys soccer team has made a habit of having the flair for the dramatic during their Division III tournament run.
Example A was the win in penalty kicks over Mariemont in the district finals Saturday to advance to the regional semis Wednesday night against Cincinnati Country Day at Lebanon Junior High School.
Another night, another crazy finish.
Senior Will Johnson flicked a header from a long free kick by Tate Robertson in the 98th minute for a 4-3 double-overtime win to spark a wild celebration and send the Irish into Saturday’s regional finals.
“We got a knack for that,” Johnson said of winning in dramatic fashion. “It’s great (to get the goal and move on). I am kinda speechless … it’s crazy.”
Most of the night was crazy.
The Irish, living off Robertson’s long services into the box, got goals in the second half from Casey Burns and Trevor Halpin for a 3-1 lead with 20:09 left.
“We tell him to put it in a dangerous spot,” Irish coach Shane Latham said after his squad improved to 18-2-1. “Take the goalie out of it and good things will happen.”
CCD, however, scored off back-to-back corner kicks within four minutes of each other to tie the game and force overtime.
“I think that we thought it was over,” Johnson said. “We gave it up. They were playing hard to come back and we thought it was over … but we still prevailed.”
It was 1-1 at the half after Robertson tied the game in the 28th minute on a nice give-and-go with Thor Beckdahl.
The Irish out-shot CCD 3-0 in overtime and had just the one shot on goal in the first half before taking over on Robertson’s long boots into the box in the final 40 minutes and overtime.
“We have three or four tall players and usually one of us is in the right place,” Johnson said. “Tate was playing great balls into the box all night and we were in the right spots.”
The regional final marks the first for the Irish since 2010 when they advanced to the Final Four, and Latham knows it doesn’t get any easier.
“We have had two in a row like that, but that is what we expect because we play in the toughest regional in the state,” Latham said. “I thought we showed a lot of resiliency and effort in coming back to punch one in to win.”