Jackson soccer keeps season alive with comeback, overtime goal in district semifinals
BRIAN ROSENER ~ Daily American Republic
Deona Blair pounced on a rebound to give the Indians a golden goal in the opening minute of overtime Monday night, capping a dramatic 3-2 comeback victory over Seckman in the Class 4 District 1 semifinals in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.
Jackson, the defending district champion, scored twice in the final 10 minutes of regulation on goals by Blair and Wil Essner to force overtime.
"We played hard all the way to the end and gave ourselves a chance," Jackson coach Zack Walton said.
Jackson (14-6-2), the second seed, will face top-seeded Northwest (18-7) in the championship game at 6 p.m. Wednesday. Jackson won the regular-season meeting 3-2 in overtime.
In winning Monday, Jackson avenged an overtime loss to Seckman (14-10) encountered during the regular season.
The Indians had the majority of chances in the opening half but trailed 1-0 at the break after Seckman scored when Jonah Ritchey deflected in a shot off a free kick from the far left side with 52 seconds left.
"We had a lot of good chances in there," Walton said. "We just needed not to panic and just to continue to play hard and give ourselves opportunities in front of the goal."
Isaac Hoog extended the lead to 2-0 less than two minutes into the second half, scoring on a break through the right side.
Jackson keeper Luke Mirly made a diving save in the 53rd minute to keep the deficit at two goals.
With 15 minutes left, Essner headed a fee kick off the crossbar. The Indians also came up empty on a corner opportunity with 11 minutes remaining, and a minute later Chalon Domian put a shot off the crossbar.
Essner set up Blair for Jackson's first goal with 9:43 left with a pass through the middle, with Blair beating Seckman's keeper inside the near post.
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Essner tied it with 6:19 to play when he got a pass from junior Devin Reiminger and scored inside the far post.
Seckman opened the overtime with the kickoff, but the Indians gained possession when Essner got a steal about 35 yards in front of Seckman's goal. His shot deflected off the keeper and Blair came in from the far side to clean it up.
"I think because of the possessions, as much as we had the ball in the first half, and that started wearing on them because any time you play more defense than offense it wears on you a little bit," Walton said. "It's a good team. I thought they played well."
Editor's note: This story has been updated with the correct seed for Jackson and Seckman, as well as the result of the regular-season meeting between Jackson and Northwest.