By Kai Raymer (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
The matchup lived up to the hype.
Especially the ending.
Biak Lian’s golden goal gave Glendale a 1-0 victory over Springfield Catholic on Wednesday night in the Class 3 District 10 Tournament title game.
Glendale (15-4 overall) has now won nine straight district titles dating back to 2012.
“This is who we are. We expect to be here,” said Glendale coach Jeff Rogers. “We had to beat a good team tonight. We don’t take these wins for granted.
“We work hard all year for the postseason. Our kids buy in to our mission and our system. I’m just proud of them.”
In a game featuring two of the area’s top programs, the dramatic ending came 10 minutes into overtime.
Dylan Roberts’ throw-in from about 30 yards out on the right side went into the box, where Lian converted on a header.
“I just thought it, ‘If I hit the ball or not, I’m just going to jump anyway,” said Lian, a junior midfielder. “I jumped, (headed) it and it went in. That’s all the matters.”
Glendale hosts the District 9 winner, Lebanon, in a Class 3 sectional on Saturday, November 7. Start time is to be determined.
“It’s crazy,” Lian said. “We never thought we were going to win (against Catholic) like this but we did it. It’s unbelievable.”
Catholic had multiple chances to take the lead in regulation.
Gage Vehr, who left on a cart with a potential knee injury in the second half before returning to the game, hit the crossbar on a free kick in the 46th minute.
His potential game-winning shot also went wide of the left post in the 79th minute.
“Welcome to the game (of soccer),” said Catholic coach Mike Hines. “That’s just the way it is.”
The Irish were also down a key player for much of the match when Ashton Vinton went down with an ankle injury in the first half.
Glendale missed a goal by mere inches in regulation as well.
Andrei Balanean’s free kick in the 37th minute hit the crossbar, and Glendale couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing rebound opportunity.
Glendale finally found the back of the net on Lian’s header in the 90th minute.
“We have kids – whether on throw-ins or long balls off the sides – who can put it in there,” Rogers said. “I thought we had a lot of looks tonight. We just weren’t putting them on frame.”
The loss was a sour ending for a young Catholic team that came ready to play.
The Irish (13-7 overall) had won six straight entering the match. Catholic recovered from a mid-season lull when it lost five of six games after several players went into COVID-19 quarantine.
Catholic’s regular starting lineup featured three freshmen, three sophomores and five juniors.
“No one had us being here in this position in the first place,” Hines said. “Just to know that we came out, competed and were in a position to win… if you have to find a bright spot, I guess that’s it. Tip your hat to Glendale. They won.”
Wednesday night may have been the first postseason meeting between two of the area’s most-tradition rich programs.
Catholic and Glendale both entered the match ranked in the Top 10 of the Class 3 state coaches’ poll. Until this year, Catholic had always played a Class below Glendale in the postseason.
“This was championship soccer tonight,” Rogers said.
Glendale’s victory prevented Catholic from winning a fourth straight district title.
“You can’t win every game,” Hines said. “It would’ve been nice to win this one, but we’ll land on our feet and be good next year.”