When Waterloo and Mater Dei last met on the soccer field Sept. 29, it was the Bulldogs who came out on top, earning a hard-fought 2-0 road victory.
The teams met again Friday evening at Waterloo with a regional championship at stake, and once again it was the Bulldogs who emerged victorious, winning 2-1 in an overtime thriller.
Both sides came out strong, but Mater Dei looked to have a firmer grasp on the game. The Knights were fast and efficient with their passing, tearing through Waterloo’s normally strong defense, which looked timid and nervous in the early minutes.
Mater Dei got on the board with about 24 minutes left in the first half, scoring on a header. Waterloo head coach Chad Holden said the goal served as a wake-up call for his team.
“We were a little nervous, a little tense at the beginning,” he said. “But we really started playing better once we got down.”
The Bulldogs stepped up the intensity, trying to create scoring opportunities. The Bulldogs’ best chance came with about 10 minutes to play in the half, when Jared Goessling sent a curling free kick into the box. Cole Kaiping got a head on the ball, but the Mater Dei keeper was there to tip it over the bar. The save helped the Knights take a 1-0 lead into the half.
Waterloo made more adjustments in the second half. The defense became more assertive, and the offense was more aggressive. The Bulldogs did a better job of possessing the ball, leading to more scoring opportunities. WHS poured on the pressure, but the Mater Dei defense stood strong against the Waterloo attack. Every chance Waterloo had was either cleared away by the Knights’ defenders, or stopped by their goalkeeper.
As time ticked down, the Bulldogs pushed harder and harder, desperately searching for the tying goal. Mater Dei matched the intensity, attempting to hold the lead. With the tension mounting, the game grew more and more physical. Things reached a boiling point with about 10 minutes remaining, when a small scuffle resulted in a yellow card for Waterloo and a red card for Mater Dei.
Mater Dei’s bench received two subsequent yellows for arguing.
It was the Bulldogs who seized the momentum from the incident, as Waterloo played with even more spirit and aggression. WHS finally broke through with 3:30 remaining, when Sean Kirkpatrick played a superb cross to Kaiping, who finished with a header to tie the game, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Regulation ended with the teams tied 1-1.
The first period of overtime was uneventful, as the teams continued to battle but were unable to find the net. The second OT, however, was all Waterloo. The Bulldogs, still carrying the energy from their game-tying goal in regulation, attacked again and again. The magic moment came with 4:30 remaining in the second OT, when junior midfielder Kane Osterhage unleashed a rocket into the left corner for the go-ahead goal. Osterhage, this week’s Republic-Times Athlete of the Week, scored 4 goals in the regional semifinal win over Salem on Tuesday.
The final buzzer sounded minutes later, and Waterloo fans rushed to field to celebrate the regional championship.
Bulldogs head coach Chad Holden was enthused by his team’s fighting spirit.
“It’s been like that all year,” he said. “We’ve had games where we’re down, but our guys just never give up. These guys have a lot of heart and passion for the game.”
Waterloo advances to the Class 2A Chatham-Glenwood Sectional, where they will take on Marion on Tuesday.