By MATT SCHUCKMAN
Herald-Whig Sports Editor
With Quincy Notre Dame keeper Zeke Little coming out of the net to challenge him one-on-one, Hunter Hoschar figured all he had to do was chip a shot toward the goal and the celebration could begin.
He never planned for the ball to veer right.
The movement wasn't drastic enough to cause panic, but it was subtle enough to cause concern.
"I was like, ‘Please go in,'" Hoschar said of watching the ball slowly fade toward the post. "It kept on going right, and I was like, ‘Oh, just go in.'"
And in meant a win.
Hoschar's goal with 2 minutes, 1 second left in the second five-minute overtime gave the Quincy High School boys
soccer team a 2-1 victory over its crosstown rival Tuesday night at Flinn Stadium and extended the Blue Devils' winning streak to 12 games.
The last time QHS walked off a field without winning was exactly four weeks ago when QND rallied for a 1-1 tie at its field, a result that left the Blue Devils (15-2-1) frustrated and angry.
Hoschar ensured all they felt this time was joy and relief.
"It's the best feeling of my life," Hoschar said. "As a sophomore scoring the game-winning goal, ... oh my."
Prior to the game, the coaches agreed to play two five-minute, sudden-death overtimes if the game was tied. If still tied, they would go to penalty-kick shootout.
The Raiders didn't want to wait for a shootout.
"I asked the boys if they wanted to play for PKs or go try to win," said QND coach Greg Reis, who moved up an attacker for the second overtime. "I took the extra guy out of the back, and we paid for it."
QHS midfielder Blake Dittmer won a ball at midfield and played it forward to Hoschar streaking diagonally across the field to get behind the defense. With the ball bouncing, Hoschar flicked it with his right foot and watched it bounce twice before rolling in.
"I'd rather win by more," a relieved QHS senior defender Tanner Mellon said. "Winning in overtime is OK, too."
For the longest time, the Blue Devils had to be curious if they'd even have that chance.
The Raiders (8-6-4) took the lead in the 32nd minute when Evan Riggs launched a long throw-in from the right sideline into the penalty area. QND's Brendan Smith won the ball in the air and flicked it into the middle, where Parker Reis redirected it in for a 1-0 lead.
It was Reis' 13th goal of the season and second against QHS.
"I was very please at halftime," Greg Reis said. "I thought our guys had played very well. We took advantage of some of the restart opportunities and scored a nice goal."
The defense made the lead last for more than 30 minutes.
"This was one of the best games our backs played all season," Greg Reis said. "They stepped up. They didn't let guys run at them. It was really a good effort on their behalf."
No one will quibble about the Blue Devils' effort either.
Held scoreless for 68 minutes, QHS wasn't without its chances. In the 17th minute, Blue Devils forward Blake Herman was tripped in the penalty area and awarded a PK. The third-leading scorer in school history, Herman was stone-walled by Little on a shot to Little's right.
So many other opportunities were squashed by QND's defense until senior midfielder Bronson Melvin hooked up with Herman in the 68th minute.
Melvin played a ball right to left, enabling Herman to gain space going up against two defenders. He beat both defenders and then beat Little with a right-footed blast, tying the game at 1 and highlighting the Blue Devils' resiliency.
"I'd like to give them credit for sticking it out," QHS coach Matt Longo said. "We were behind, but we really didn't change. I had thought about making some type of change, and I had already talked with Aubrey Disseler about putting him in and the change we were going to do.
"But I don't like giving up. The chances were there. My only gripe is when we don't get the chances. The chances were there. The opportunities were there. We just were a little off, so I wasn't giving up on what we were doing."
Like it has so often the last month, the Blue Devils' offense eventually worked.
That's all that really mattered.
"It's just good to win," Mellon said.