Beating any team three times in a single season is tough. And in a conference game or against a heated rival, it's even more unlikely. You know your opponents almost as well as you know yourself. By that logic, the sports law of averages was bound to be in De Smet's favor heading to the pitch against CBC Wednesday, having lost 2-1 in September and then again in penalty kicks last month.
But that only served to stir a crazed scene of celebration on the field Wednesday after ended CBC's hopes for a state title with a 2-1 overtime win for the District 2 crown.
De Smet Senior Scott Russo put the ball in the net past CBC Junior keeper Nathaniel Griffin with 6:30 left in the first overtime period, sending the Spartans on to the state tournament to face the winner of Class 3 District 1 next Tuesday. (Northwest/Jackson, to be played Thursday night).
"I'm a defender. For some unknown reason, I was playing forward for a second, and the goal was open, so why not put it in, right?" a breathless Russo said after getting mobbed by teammates and classmates on his home field.
"It's a spectacular ending, but right before that, they almost scored," De Smet Head Coach Greg Vitello said, after a Cadet chance hit the top right post.
"We didn't play what I thought was a very good game on our part because of CBC, because they're that good of a team. Our other two encounters when they beat us, I think we had the better of the play, but tonight I think it was kind of even," Vitello said.
CBC broke out on top with a goal from Timothy Michel with 29:28 left in the first half. De Smet answered just under 12 minutes later on a penalty kick by back Pat Conroy.
Both teams had scoring opportunities throughout, with a flurry of activity that picked up on both ends with less than seven minutes left in regulation. Conroy left with what he called a "real bad" MCL knee sprain, while Forward Prince Kabadeh was also limping afterward. Vitello said Conroy's injury could be the more serious of the two, with five days until state play.
"Get some holy water, rub it on him, and see what happens," Vitello said.