Both Darren Llewellyn and John Cappuccitti said it best after Hersey defeated Schaumburg 2-1 in overtime late Tuesday night. The Huskies coach and standout player figure there's only one way to play from here on out.
Cappuccitti, a senior, drew his club even in the 66th minute. Then eight minutes into the first extra session, his free kick roared through a crowd and was redirected off a Saxons player into the back of the net.
That gave the MSL-leading Huskies (10-2-2, 6-1-0, 18 points) a dramatic win to put them 2 points clear of Elk Grove and 5 of Wheeling. Hersey hosts Wheeling Thursday afternoon in Arlington Heights.
"Every single game is a must-win," said Cappuccitti, after being mobbed by his teammates and before Llewellyn had a few words for the team prior to their bus ride back home. "We've got to play with that desire and urgency each time out, and in the second half, that's exactly what we did. I know I could feel the energy because of it, and I think everybody just built off that great second half of soccer."
"What a game," said a relieved Llewellyn, who knew a draw or loss Tuesday would make Thursday's match with Wheeling (4-1-1, 13 points) even more stressful.
The Wildcats dropped a 1-0 match at home to MSL West leader Fremd, while Elk Grove fell to Barrington on the road by the same score.
"Bad things happen when you continue to concede corners, long throws, and too many quality chances, and that's what we did in that second period, and it just carried on and into overtime tonight," said Saxons coach Hamid Mehreioskouei.
Schaumburg was sharp in the early exchanges, taking everything away from Cappuccitti, Michael Kaczor and Charlie Davenport while putting the pressure on the Huskies' backline, who struggled with Alan Santana, Jessie Lopez and Jason Schoo.
Santana got credit for the Saxons' lone goal when he unleashed a 45-yard free kick from the far touchline that bounded off a Hersey defender and past keeper Cristian Carranza, who had no chance to react.
The own goal at the half-hour took its toll on Hersey, which struggled to possess for the next 10 minutes before intermission. But Schaumburg (4-7-0, 3-4-0) failed to take advantage.
The Huskies threatened from the onset of the second half, and a quiet first-half attack suddenly awakened with Cappuccitti, Kaczor, Davenport, Conor Reynolds and Dan Gramer all having a hand in keeping the ball in the Saxons' end.
Saxons captain and standout defender Cristian Michalowski had to leave with an injury following a 50-50 encounter with Cappuccitti. Moments after the Schaumburg senior came off, Cappuccitti brought the Huskies level from just outside the edge.
Hersey was unable to convert several deep throws from Reynolds, along with a handful of corners and set-pieces they created, until that fateful moment in the 88th minute.