COLLINSVILLE — With Halloween still two days off, the Gibault Hawks chased away some former playoff demons early on Tuesday at Kahoks Stadium.
Denied a potential game-winning goal in the final 20 seconds of regulation, the Hawks regrouped to dominate in overtime and in penalty kicks as they defeated Quincy Notre Dame 1-0 at the Class 1A Collinsville Soccer Supersectional.
Gibault (17-4-4) had a 3-0 edge in penalty kicks.
After battling to a scoreless draw for 100 minutes on a cold, damp and misty fall evening, the Hawks got penalty pick goals from Andrew Reinholz and Frank Mantia while the Raiders Tanner Zanger and goalie Zeke Little both missed wide of the goal.
After Raiders senior Brendan Smith missed wide on a third straight shot, Hawks junior Ethan Shields clinched when his shot was deflected by Little and rolled into the net as Gibault players rushed on to the field to celebrate.
"It's not exactly how you want to win a game, but we're going to state. That's what matters,"Gibault coach Matt Reeb said. "We work hard on penalty kicks just for situations like this one and tonight it paid off. The kids have worked hard for this. They are deserving of the chance to play in the state tournament."
The win lifts Gibault into the Class 1A State Tournament semifinals at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Corn Crib in Bloomington. The Hawks will take on Chicago F.W. Parker which defeated (Elmhurst) Timothy Christian 1-0 on Tuesday at the Lisle Supersectional.
But in the minds of Gibault players, coaches and fans, the game should have ended in regulation.
With under 40 seconds remaining, Mantia dashed up the field to take a free kick on the left line about 35 yards from the Raiders goal.
With time running down under 20 seconds, the Hawks senior kicked the ball in front of the goal as several players from both teams attempted to gain position.
The ball bounced of a player and appeared to roll over the line for what wouldhave been the game winner. But while Gibault players started to celebrate, officials waved the goal off.
"I was told the entire ball has to cross the line and the line (judge) said that it didn't. I'm not going to say too much about it because I don't want to get in trouble," Reeb said. "But our kids sure thought it was over the line."
As it turned out, it didn't matter. Not to be denied, Gibault came out firing in the overtime period. Senior Wes Degener, despite nursing a badly sprained ankle, nearly scored from 20-yards out with five minutes left in the first overtime period.
Degener then made a steal near midfield and came in alone on a breakaway two minutes later. But Little, who was the Raiders chief offensive player as well as he took nearly every free kick, came out of goal to stop Degener, clearly hobbled by his sprained ankle.
"I think I'm going to go home and soak my ankle for a couple of hours,'' Degener said, smiling. "We thought we had the game won, but when they (the referees) said it didn't count. We had to refocus and continue to work hard. We had come too far. We weren't going to be denied."
Contact reporter Dean Criddle at 239-2661 or email@example.com