Eden Prairie co-head coach Rob St. Clair missed his team’s dramatic upset win over Wayzata that closed out the boys soccer regular season last week. The Eagles improbable victory came with senior Zach Fier’s game-winning goal in the final two seconds to beat the state’s top-ranked team.
St. Clair wasn’t going to miss this week’s encore performance.
“It was a reboot,” St. Clair said with a smile. “I wasn’t getting my money’s worth, so I need them to give me some excitement too.”
This week’s dose of adrenaline came when the Eagles were deadlocked in a 1-1 tie with Chanhassen at the end of regulation in the Section 2AAA quarterfinals on Tuesday. There were just five seconds remaining in the first overtime period when senior forward Sebastian Bocanegra-Lima scored the game-winning goal.
For the second straight week, the Eagles found a way to come up big in the biggest moment.
“We started the game a little rough. But we found a last minute breath to finish it off,” Bocanegra-Lima said after the game. “Because we know it’s the last season for the seniors, so we are going to give it our all.”
Bocanegra-Lima’s game-winner began with a flurry in front of the Chanhassen net. As the ball came toward him, junior midfielder Nick Thompson headed the ball toward Bocanegra-Lima, who headed the ball over Chanhassen goalkeeper Jacob Humbert.
“I just saw the time running down,” Thompson said. “I was just trying to either put it in the net or give it to a player and have the game finished off there.”
Amid blustery conditions at Aerie Stadium, the Eagles had the wind at their backs during a scoreless first half. Chanhassen scored just five minutes into the second half to take a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we actually played better against the wind,” Eagles co-head coach Jim Williams said. “We’re a better team when we play the ball on the floor. And when you’re going into the wind, you’ve got to make those short little passes.”
The Eagles’ short passes paid off. With 28:47 remaining in the second half, Fier scored from close range to tie the game at one.
“I caught a break,” Fier said. “The ball came through, I beat a couple of guys, found the ball on my foot, 6-yard box, I just put it past the keeper. Coach has been preaching all season, ‘just pass it by the keeper.’ That’s exactly what I did.”
The game remained tied at one through the end of regulation. The Eagles had the wind for the first overtime period as both teams battled up and down the pitch to create scoring opportunities.
“I give Chanhassen a ton of credit there,” St. Clair said. “They played really, really well tonight. We had a hard time possessing the ball when we did get chances.”
The Eagles gained possession in the final seconds of the first overtime. The doubleheader combination from Thompson to Bocanegra-Lima for the game-winner just ahead of the buzzer provided enough drama to have made SportCenter’s ‘play of the day.’ The spectacular goal provided a thrilling finish for the second straight week.
“It’s just something special,” said junior forward Ryan Donohue. “We’ve just got to keep working. And I think that showed at the end of the game and the last couple of games. We just wanted it more and we just kept pushing.”
Said Thompson, “It just shows we don’t stop until the game’s over. We just keep playing, keep fighting. Just a gritty team.”
The Eagles have grown accustomed to playing well beyond regulation. The extra period marked the sixth time they have ventured into overtime this season.
“We’re used to it. We’re tested under fire,” St. Clair said. “And if we’re going to advance further, we know there’s more overtime out there. So we’ve got to be ready for it.”
Eden Prairie won’t have to wait long for their next match. With the win over Chanhassen, the Eagles advance to the Section 2AAA semifinals against Minnetonka on Thursday.
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