As Rochester High School girls soccer coach Chad Kutscher called it, Wednesday concluded the longest halftime in the world.
But it was a result worth the wait for Springfield High School.
McKenna Mathiot took a chance and fired toward the net, squeezing the ball between the right post and Rochester keeper Emily Wollet in the 55th minute to give the Senators a 1-0 lead, which turned into a Central State Eight Conference win by that score at Lee Field.
“There were a bunch of people in front of me, but I just happened to get it in between the goalie and the post,” Mathiot said.
It ended a game that was suspended at halftime on April 10. The two teams came back exactly a month later to play the second half.
“Since we only played a half, it was kind of weird,” Mathiot said. “But we came out and played hard so we could get the job done.”
The Senators (12-6 overall, 7-2 CS8) finished tied with Rochester for second in the conference. Chatham Glenwood went 9-0 on its CS8 schedule to win the title outright.
“I told them, ’Yeah, we’re not playing for the conference championship, but for us, it’s a place up or down,” Springfield coach Pat Phillips said he told his players before the game resumed.
“‘You finish second or you finish third. So there is something to play for and we want to finish on a good note heading into the playoffs.’”
When the teams first got together, Rochester was the aggressor, outshooting Springfield High 6-3. But Wednesday, the Senators were the ones — especially early — controlling the game.
SHS finished with six second-half shots on goal, compared to two for the Rockets (11-7-2, 7-2). On the play leading to Mathiot’s goal, the ball had gone out of bounds on the sideline opposite the Springfield High bench. Junior midfielder Sarah Wagner threw it in and Mathiot, a senior forward, ended up with the ball at her feet after it bounced around players on both teams. She quickly gathered and fired at an angle into the back of the net.
“We put some early pressure on, it just didn’t happen and luckily, we got a good finish from McKenna to seal the deal,” Phillips said.
Kutscher wasn’t thrilled with the circumstances surrounding the game, but said ultimately, that wasn’t why he thought his team left with the loss.
“We don’t get a chance to have the 25 mph winds at our back,” Kutscher said. “But that being said, you know what? As a team, we have to learn how to come out (early).
“(Assistant) coach (Brent) Stuckey noticed it before the warmups, the girls were not into it. If you’re going to come out and think you can just turn it on, this is what is going to happen. Springfield’s a good team and they’ve got some good players and they play hard. We were second to a lot of the balls.
“Again, if we had a second half, I think it would’ve (been different). I know this was the second half, but it was such a weird dynamic of coming back and playing 40 minutes when conditions change, when everything changed. It’s just different.”
The Rockets controlled the ball more in the final 15 minutes of the game. They even had three shots go over the crossbar.
“We had some chances,” Kutscher said. “They played with a sense of urgency toward that end that really, if they played with it at the beginning, maybe we’re talking about a different result right now. We’ve got some things to figure out before we get into playoffs next week.”
Springfield High next plays in the Class 2A Normal West Regional semifinals. The No. 3-seeded Senators face No. 6 Bloomington at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Rochester opens postseason play at the Jacksonville Regional. The No. 2 Rockets face No. 8 Southeast at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, also in the semifinals.
Taken from sj-r.com