Marathon Illinois soccer playoff ends after two OTs, 48-hour delay

The Illinois High School Association Class 2A Hampshire Regional title was supposed to be decided on Saturday. Instead, Hampshire (Ill.) High School was crowned some 48 hours later after a back-and-forth battle through regulation, a two-day weather delay that struck just before overtime and, finally, a double overtime. Now, because of the aforementioned delay, Hampshire High has to turn around and play a sectional title match less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the weather-extended game.

According to the Northwest Herald of McHenry County, Ill., the regional championship match between Hampshire and Marian Central had to be abandoned on Saturday because of lightning at the start of overtime. The teams played to a 2-2 tie in regulation, and while both schools were willing to wait out the storm on Saturday night, referees called for the delay after waiting for an hour with no weather improvement.

When the game was finally re-started, it took nearly two, full overtime periods for a winner to emerge. That's when John Bishop, the Hampshire junior you see pictured on the left above, collected a long ball sent upfield by teammate Jared Butler, pushed it along the right side just in front of the Marian Central defense and, finally, ended a two-day-long match with an efficient strike.

"He [Butler] just booted it right up to me perfectly, and I used my right foot to get it in the right side," Bishop told the Northwest Herald. "We knew it could work if we had the chance to do it."

Still, the delay made matters significantly more difficult for Hampshire, which now has to play a sectional championship game Tuesday, less than 24 hours after finally finishing off the team's regional title. Yet, there has reportedly been no consideration to delaying the sectional championship match to give Hampshire more time to recover from its grueling regional championship. Should Hampshire win on Tuesday it would advance to the state semifinals on Friday, Nov. 5.

The conclusion of the regional final ended one of the more back-and-forth regional finals possible. Hampshire jumped out to a 2-0 lead over favored Marian Catholic, but the Hurricanes battled back to tie the match with a dominant second-half performance. On Monday, Marian Central kept the ball in Hampshire's side of the field for most of the first and second overtimes, using its trademark field-long diagonal defense to force Hampshire into areas of space away from the goal. All that ended when the Whip-Purs exploited Marian's lack of deep defending for the game-winning goal.

The loss ended 22-2 Marian Central's season far short of the program's anticipated state-title run, though Hurricanes coach Kristian Rockall was quick to blame his own strategic miscalculation rather than his player's execution after a truly unanticipated delay for the team's loss.

"I did think a long ball over the top might catch us off guard, and that's what happened," Rockall told the Northwest Herald. "My players played exactly how I wanted them to play today. They did me proud."

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