The Highland boys’ soccer team earned its first-ever playoff win Monday night in dramatic fashion.
Zane Sheets scored his third goal of the game with 1:23 left in regulation on an assist from Caleb Hunter. It was Sheets’ first career hat trick and that third goal was the winning score in a come-from-behind 3-2 decision over Beechcroft.
“It’s the first time we hosted a playoff game and our first win,” said head coach John Sachleben. “We’ve played Beechcroft three times in the playoffs in our six years. In 2016, we lost seven or eight to nothing. We went there again the next year and our goal was to score a goal and we scored two. Since then, we’ve had some playoff shellackings. This year, we were ranked 14th out of 22 teams (in the district) and we jumped on the chance to host.”
Highland also jumped on Beechcroft early in the contest, as Sheets scored off a Hunter assist barely three minutes after the action began. The Scots wouldn’t be able to build on that early 1-0 lead, though, as Beechcroft tied things up at the 24:20 mark of the half and it remained 1-1 going into the intermission.
The visitors then scored 90 seconds into the second half to claim the lead. However, they would only hold an advantage briefly. Jack Chaffee drilled a pass that Sheets headed into the goal to knot things up at 2-2 with 35:11 left in regulation.
It took some work for the Scots to keep the score tied until Sheets’ deciding goal. During a six-minute stretch in the middle of the half, Beechcroft controlled the ball and had several scoring opportunities that they couldn’t convert on thanks to the efforts of Highland goalie Adi Karya and the team’s defense.
“Beechcroft played their hearts out,” said Sachleben. “This was a fun game to watch. Our kids rose to the occasion; they knew they had to win in order to take another bus ride (to the team’s next tournament game). They also wanted to win so they could come to practice again because Tuesday is team meal day.”
With neither team being able to light up the scoreboard and time dwindling in regulation, it looked like the contest would go to overtime. Sheets had different plans, though, and was able to send the Scots to the second round of the playoff, where they will travel to fifth-seeded Granville Wednesday.
Rob Hamilton can be reached at 419-946-3010, ext. 1807. Connect with him on Twitter at @SportsMCS