Saturday night’s Class AAA sectional match between LaVergne and Cookeville showed that a match is never over until the final whistle.
The Wolverines rallied from a late 2-0 deficit with a pair of goals by Carlos Figueroa in a 51-second span to force overtime, then Christian Rivera scored the go-ahead goal 45 seconds into the extra session and LaVergne held on for a 3-2 victory at CHS to advance to this week’s state quarterfinals in Murfreesboro.
“That’s been a trademark of our teams,” LaVergne coach Allen McMillan said. “We’re gonna play hard until the very, very end regardless.”
McMillan had a hunch that Saturday’s sectional game could be a repeat of the Wolverines’ 2010 sectional against Cookeville, which they also won 3-2 in overtime.
“I implored the guys in the pre-game that we may have to go more than 80 minutes,” he said, “and that it may take 90 minutes or 100 minutes, but to dig down deep and find whatever is necessary and don’t quit, regardless.
“Even at halftime, I told them, ‘Even if they go up by two and get another one, that’s OK. Keep going. We’ll get the first one and go from there. Don’t try to go get it all at once.’ We stayed the course, and it went our way.”
Cookeville (16-7-1) scored quickly in the second minute on a goal by Freddy Martinez, and the scored stayed that way until 24:43 remaining in regulation, when Evan Reiley made it 2-0 on a breakaway score.
That’s when Figueroa worked his magic for LaVergne (12-8-1), getting his first goal with 13:07 remaining and the next one on a breakaway with 12:16 left.
“We did a great job defensively up until that,” Cavaliers coach Sam Matson said. “We just had a couple of unlucky bounces that didn’t go our way, and give them credit for finishing the chances when they had them.”
Billy Latimer nearly ended the match in regulation after the Cavaliers were whistled for a foul. After gaining possession on a free kick, his shot went just over the net as time expired.
Cookeville had its chances late in overtime. Reiley fired a shot that went off the crossbar with 52 seconds remaining, and with just 35 ticks left Nick Zalewski had a shot sail just over the net.
The state quarterfinals will be Tuesday at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex, and will also include sectional winners Maryville, Farragut, Smyrna, Ravenwood, Franklin, White Station and Houston.