Senior Owen Crase delivers game-winner for Hoopeston Area

Oct. 18—HOOPESTON — Owen Crase got the diagnosis that he had been waiting to here on Monday.

The Hoopeston Area senior had missed six straight games because of a slight tear in his MCL (medial collateral ligament) but he was cleared to play in Tuesday’s regional championship match against Watseka.

“I was more thrilled than ever,” he said. “I kind of expected it because I’ve been hoping it would happen this way.

“I’m so glad that I was able to get back for my team.”

And how did Crase celebrate his return to the soccer pitch?

He scored the game-winning goal with just over 16 minutes remaining in the championship match as the Cornjerkers claimed the program’s fourth-ever regional title with a 2-1 victory over the Warriors.

“Owen Crase has been out for two-and-half weeks,” Hoopeston Area coach Kevin Root said. “He just got released (on Monday), so he practiced a little with us. He couldn’t go much in the game, but here he is getting in the right spot and scoring the winning goal.

“For a senior, that’s just incredible. It’s an awesome experience.”

Hoopeston Area (19-5) had a couple other golden opportunities early in the second half as Harrison Woods got stopped twice within 6 yards of the goal.

This time, Crase also got stopped inside the 6-yard box but somehow the ball just fell to the ground, right on the doorstep of the goal.

“Everyone was just sliding through, so there was no thinking, I just had to put the ball in the back of the net,” Crase said. “My heart jumped up and I ran right toward the ball. I had the perfect position to drive the ball in the back of the net. I could see it happening and my legs just took me there.”

Being in the right place at the right time is something that Root has told his team all year.

“We are always telling our guys to be near the goalie in situations just like that, because something good might happen,” Root said. “The ball was sitting at the porch basically and he just kicked it in.”

The Cornjerkers defense took care of the final 16 minutes, not allowing the Warriors (14-11) to even get a shot on goal.

Crase admitted for him and the seven other seniors on the Hoopeston Area team that Tuesday’s win was a little payback for Watseka winning the 2022 regional semifinal contest 1-0.

“That was a tough loss on our team. We had three great seniors that played their final match in that game,” he said. “We really felt that we could have advanced further last year.

“Now, we’re getting that chance.”

The Cornjerkers thought they had taken a 1-0 lead just 10 minutes into Tuesday’s match, but the goal was disallowed because of an offisdes call.

About 8 minutes later, Hoopeston Area senior Talan Gredy-Nelson found himself in the right place as he collected a rebound and directed a shot into the back of the net giving the Cornjerkers an 1-0 lead.

“It’s kind of a joke with us but our bread-and-butter are corner kicks and throw-ins close to the goal,” Root said. “We have to play the sidelines and hope someone can get open in the middle. That was the situation on Talen’s goal, he got free and the ball just kind of bounced to him.”

Watseka tied the game at 1-1 on an excellent strike from junior Narciso Solorzano off a pass from Jose Tobar with about 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

“That guy is incredible,” said Root, acknowledging the Cornjerkers defense had two players assigned to him at all times. “And, he was still able to get the ball on his right foot. He is nearly unstoppable.”

With the victory, Hoopeston Area advances to the St. Anne Sectional where they will play Normal University High, a 3-1 winner of Fisher/Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley in the championship match of the Normal University High Regional. The match between the Cornjerkers and Pioneers (17-5-2) is scheduled for 5 p.m. Friday.


Recommended For You

About the Author: soccernews