Through 80 minutes of regulation, nothing separated Tates Creek and Sayre in the 26th District finals Friday. In overtime, Tates Creek needed just 23 seconds to give itself the lead and some breathing room.
The Commodores (7-9-6) scored two goals in a 23-second span early in overtime, and the Commodores later added another goal to beat the Spartans (8-7-5), 4-1.
Tates Creek Coach Brandon Turek said although the outburst decided the game, the final score didn't indicate how tough both teams were.
"I love the win, but Sayre fought too hard to lose by three," Turek said. "Going into overtime, I just put it on the boys and told them if they wanted a title, they had to go earn it. It wasn't going to be handed to them.
"I coached at Sayre, so I know those boys, and they're an awesome group of kids," he said.
In the third minute of overtime, Tates Creek's Matt Williams punched in the game-winner in the middle of a scrum at the goal line. Sayre goalkeeper Conrad Bandoroff, facing the goal, tried to swat the slow-roller out of the goal.
Unsure if the ball crossed the line, the officials conferred briefly and decided the goal was good.
Just 23 seconds later, Cody Garcia scored his second goal of the game to put it out of Sayre's reach.
"Everybody started taking shots, and we just happened to capitalize," Garcia said. "After the second goal, the third one just came and then the fourth. It just all happened so quickly, all of a sudden we had total control."
After those 23 seconds, the game briefly settled back down. To try and catch up, Sayre Coach Joe Porter said he started pressing players forward.
Instead of generating offense, the Spartans surrendered another goal.
Porter said before that final goal, his team felt it could catch the Commodores.
"Once we went down 3-1, we talked about how we've been in that situation," Porter said. "In the All 'A' regional tournament, we were down 3-1 with 20 minutes left and we won 5-4. We know we can get those goals, we just had to believe.
"We had to keep pushing. We pushed too many forward, and when you do that, inevitably something's going to sneak through," he said.
Both Tates Creek and Sayre advanced to next week's 13th Region tournament after upsets in the district semifinals — Tates Creek's over No. 9 Henry Clay, Sayre's over Scott County — put the underdogs through.
Porter said his team held its head high knowing its season didn't end.
Turek said his team had something to prove.
"We had to show people that we could finally reach our potential," Turek said. "We peaked a little early in the season, and then we struggled a little bit with injury and illness. We knew all season we had the talent, we just had to bring it together."
The Commodores know they'll likely be underdogs in the regional tournament's first round.
"Games might not be as evenly matched, at least on paper, as they were tonight," Turek said.
"We just have to go out and play our game like we did tonight and let the ball do the rest," he said. "That's what we'll keep thinking about."
Tates Creek 4, Sayre 1 (OT)
Goals—TC: Garcia 2, Williams, Mutigi; S: Rushell.
Goalkeepers—TC: Van Bussum; S: Bandoross.
Records: Tates Creek 7-9-6, Sayre 8-7-5