MONUMENT – Retribution has never tasted sweeter for the Palmer Ridge boys’ soccer team.
A year after being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 4A state tournament by Cheyenne Mountain via an overtime goal off a corner kick, the top-seeded Bears did the exact same thing to the No. 9 Indians at Don Breese Stadium Thursday night. Jimmy Kochanski took an Owen Braley corner kick and headed it into the right corner of the Cheyenne Mountain net with 8.9 seconds remaining in the second overtime to give Palmer Ridge a thrilling 1-0 victory and a spot in the state semifinals.
The goal came off the third corner kick in the final minute for the Bears (16-1-1), who also defeated the Indians (12-5-1) in overtime during the regular season. Kochanski sprinted around the field and stripped off his jersey despite the chilly temperatures after knocking in the game-winner.
“That was crazy,” said the sophomore midfielder, whose older brother, John, is the team’s goalie. “I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the scoreboard and saw there was eight seconds left. I’m in disbelief. I think I’m going to wake up tomorrow morning and be like, ‘Oh my gosh!’
“I was just focused on getting to that ball. We had about three opportunities back to back, so we had to finish one of them. This is great revenge.”
Palmer Ridge has now won 11 games in a row, and the blanking of Cheyenne Mountain was the Bears’ 11th shutout of the season.
“Holy cow, what a goal,” said Palmer Ridge coach Nick Odil, whose team is 4-1 in overtime games this season. “When we didn’t score in the first half, I kind of saw overtime coming, and as we were getting to the end, I was thinking about my lineup for (penalty) kicks. I’m so happy for them – what a feeling!”
The 80 minutes of regulation was a back-and-forth tussle. Both squads had chances to put goals away, but a bounce here or an inch there kept the game scoreless.
Cheyenne Mountain senior Tyler Burns slammed a shot off the crossbar with 8:30 remaining in the first half, and Palmer Ridge’s Landon Spells saw his header off a Kochanski free kick end up in the arms of Indians goalie Slade Custer in the 52nd minute. The Bears had another quality scoring chance midway through the second half, and Burns hit the left corner of the post with 12:30 remaining in regulation.
Each team shot wide of the net and over the crossbar in the overtime periods.
Indians coach Tomas Martinez was frustrated by the result, but also proud of his team after the loss.
“We had opportunities, so we can’t look at anyone but ourselves,” Martinez said. “We wanted to keep the ball, work it around, find our opportunities and finish our chances. We had everything except that last portion.
“I was confident (a victory) was going to come, because it felt like it was coming, but it just didn’t.”
Palmer Ridge will host fourth-seeded Mullen (10-5-3) in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“I really think we’re going to take it to them,” Kochanski said.