By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
FAUCETT - After each team had scored a goal on penalty kicks in regulation, and went scoreless in the first overtime, Bishop LeBlond freshman Kendall Cathcart crossed a ball into Mid-Buchanan's 18-yard box, where fellow freshman Katie Sego was waiting.
Sego scored the game-winning goal from short range with 2:24 left in the second overtime, lifting the Golden Eagles (13-5) to a 2-1 win over Mid-Buchanan in the Class 1 District 8 girls' soccer championship on Thursday evening in Faucett.
"It was a lot tougher game than I was ever wanting it to be,"LeBlond head coach Chad Thompson said, relieved and soaked from a Gatorade bath.
"The girls went out, stayed motivated, stayed hungry. We had some good opportunities...it was just a really, really, good game."
It's really no surprise that this match was as dead even as they come.
No. 1 seed Bishop LeBlond. No. 2 seed Mid-Buchanan. The Dragons ranked No. 1. The Golden Eagles ranked No. 3.
Both teams had won five straight matches coming in, and both have now met each other in a district title for three straight seasons.
It was clear from the beginning that the match was going to be a hard fought, scrappy, physical game with both teams battling for possession throughout.
After almost 20 minutes of scoreless action to lead things off, Cathcart was fouled inside Mid-Buchanan's 18-yard box, leading to a penalty kick.
Cathcart buried the PK top shelf to put the Golden Eagles up 1-0 with 21:40 left in the first half.
The Dragons (19-4-1) had the answer just before intermission. Junior Emily Parrott got dropped inside LeBlond's 18-yard box, giving herself a chance at a PK.
She too nailed it on a hard ground ball, knotting the game at 1-1 with 3:16 to go until halftime.
That score would not change for some time.
Each team managed two shots-on-goal in the second half, but the last 40 minutes of regulation and the more than 27 minutes of overtime play featured back-and-forth, close quarter, body-slamming defense as possession changed seemingly every minute.
There were also, unofficially, a combined 29 fouls, as both teams chased each other up and down the pitch with lots of contact throughout.
"Just running back and forth," Cathcart said. "Just have to have the mentality for this. Physically, you just have to be there. Just a lot of work for everyone."
With time waning in the second OT and penalty kicks looming, LeBlond was back on the attack with still enough time to mount a threat.
Cathcart kept the ball inbounds along the sideline, and hit a cross pass into the air and right into the path of Sego, who got right in front of the goal and snuck the ball into the net, ending the game and giving the Golden Eagles their second district title in three seasons.
"We were taught to crash the goal and that's what we do," Sego said. "So, we just had to finish."
"Luckily, we had a good ball come through," Thompson said of Cathcart's pass. "I told them, 'We don't have to play another 15 minutes if they score now.'"
In a season where LeBlond dealt with key injuries, the Golden Eagles were forced to make some changes to their lineup, and rely on practically all six of their freshmen on the varsity roster.
While that may not have been the plan when the season started, it's working out for Bishop LeBlond, as they enter state quarterfinals on a six-game winning streak. Only one win stands between the Golden Eagles and their first ever trip to a Final Four.
"I think it was our coaches who had so much confidence in us," Sego said, "and that's what helped us get through."
"We're looking for the next game now," senior Tatum Studer said. "This game was on our calendar for pretty much the whole year. We knew we had to train for it. So, we finally got this off our plate and we're looking forward to what's next and what we need to do to progress."
LeBlond faces Barstow (9-7) in state quarterfinals on May 27. The time and location have yet to be announced.
Mid-Buchanan ends its season with a school record number of wins after just their third year of competition.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.