Playing a man down with time running out in a tie game against River Hill in the 3A East regional final Monday, Reservoir needed something special.
Junior Nick Jobst was up to the task.
Taking a feed on the left side from John Lopes with just over six minutes left in regulation, Jobst dribbled through three defenders and then finished under River Hill goalie Tomas Potts for the deciding goal in a 2-1 Reservoir victory.
“I couldn’t believe that it went in the net … it was a fantastic goal,” Reservoir coach Reg Hahne said. “He had to go around three players, then he hit it with the outside of his right foot underneath the goalkeeper right next to the left goal post. Unbelievable.”
With the victory, Reservoir advances into a state semifinal match-up on Saturday at CCBC-Essex. The Gators last made the state final four in 2010, the same year they captured the program’s only state championship.
“It honestly feels amazing,” Jobst said. “No one expected Reservoir to be here. We’re just coming out and beating all these teams and proving ourselves.”
River Hill was the one with the momentum early, getting on the board first when Zach Riso finished off a free kick by Keith Huber five minutes in.
But just 10 minutes later, on its first corner kick, Reservoir struck back. Michael Peprah played the ball into the box and Gibrill Sheriff finished a header on the near post, putting things back to square one.
“It was so early that I didn’t feel super comfortable after we got the goal and they did respond almost immediately,” River Hill coach Matt Shagogue said. “We never really got in a rhythm after that.”
Things were still deadlocked when Reservoir sustained a key blow with 9:51 left before halftime. Defender Tim Usher was issued a red card after a foul, leaving the Gators with only 10 in the field.
Despite the prospect of playing shorthanded the entire second half, though, Reservoir was upbeat during intermission. During the regular season, River Hill had beaten the Gators while playing with 10 guys, so Reservoir knew it could be done.
“Coach said, ‘If they can do it, why can’t we do it?’ We just had to come together,” Jobst said.
Keep its attacking mentality, the Gators were indeed the ones dictating possession in the early stages of the final 40 minutes.
“We wanted to keep the same formation, we just had to make a little bit of a change with our defensive structure … the key was we wanted to make sure nothing changed in the game as far as our momentum,” Hahne said.
Both teams had their chances to break the tie, including a couple dangerous long throws by River Hill and breakaway chance by Reservoir’s Lopes with 15:21 remaining.
No one converted, though, until Jobst.
He dribbled toward goal, settled himself and delivered.
“After getting through (the defense) I hit it a little too far in front of me, so I pulled it back and I saw a little crevice,” Jobst said. “That was my only shot or the goalie would have had it, so I had to make a split-second decision.”
River Hill coach Shagogue added, “It was a great goal … a great individual effort.”
Reservoir has now won four straight dating back to the regular season, including two in a row against teams, Centennial and River Hill, that beat it earlier this fall.
“We’ve definitely got a lot of momentum at the moment and we’re playing out best soccer of the season,” Hahne said. “When Centennial beat us 4-0 midway through the season, I didn’t think that we were going to have anything this year. But the kids really rallied, kept working hard, and look where it’s got us.”
Reservoir 2, River Hill 1
Goals: Re – Sheriff, Jobst; RH – Riso.
Assists: Re – Peprah; RH – Huber.
Saves: Re – Linares 2; RH – Potts 3.