SPRING HILL — Even down to the final second, the Ottawa High School boys never gave up hope of scoring the tying goal.
The Cyclones kept pushing the ball forward as the clock ticked down. The time reached 10 seconds then 9 ... 8 ...
Ottawa attempted another push, but it was thwarted by the Spring Hill defense. The clock went to 7 ... 6 ... 5 ...
Ottawa gained control again, but the ball was close to midfield. The seconds winded down 4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... and then the horn went off.
Several Ottawa players slumped to the ground feeling the effects of a 3-2 loss to the Broncos in a regional semifinal match.
For some, it was the final match of their careers. For the others, it signaled the end of a late season surge that saw Ottawa tie these same Broncos, fall by a goal to Baldwin and snare wins over defending state champion Kansas City Christian and Louisburg.
Teammates hugged. Thanked each other for the supreme effort this season. Reality hit the seniors.
Some of the throng of students — that cheered on the Cyclones — came over and lent a helping hand during this emotional time.
Coach Daniel Nathan was spent emotionally. He offered praise for his players.
“We competed hard,” he said. “We played very well after getting 2-0 down. We fought back. We made it a game. Unfortunately it did not go our way.”
The two teams battled each other for three matches — a total of 240 minutes — with just two goals separating the two.
The Broncos broke the 2-2 tie off a free kick just outside of the 18-yard box with just under 30 minutes left in the match.
Brock Chartier’s chance at a tying shot off a free kick was stopped later by the Spring Hill keeper.
“We had a chance,” Daniel said.
Spring Hill had the wind at its back and kept Ottawa bottled up in the first half. The Broncos scored their first goal off a counter attack with 26 minutes left in the first half.
The Broncos extended the lead to 2-0 six minutes later.
Ottawa (8-8-1) found its offensive legs and began to put pressure on the Spring Hill defense.
Ottawa cracked through as Stefan Foulke scored with 10:55 left in the first half.
Chartier tied it with a rifled shot early in the second half.
Nathan said the seniors left a legacy.
“The seniors set a standard,” Nathan said.
Ottawa and Franklin County sports can be followed on twitter @ottawasports1