Region boys soccer: Northeast 2, Countryside 1 (OT)
ST. PETERSBURG – Northeast’s mystical season has been full of happy bounces and goose-bump wins.
Saturday produced similar results against a familiar foe.
Once again, the Vikings fell behind Countryside in the first half, just like in the district final. Again, Northeast made a furious rally, one that kept its improbable season alive.
In overtime, Ervin Ikanovic took a free kick, sending the ball past an unsuspecting keeper and into the net in the Vikings’ 2-1 victory.
Northeast (15-2-2) is in the region final for the first time and will play at Venice on Tuesday.
“I’ve scored previously on quick, free kicks,” Ikanovic said. “I always tell the referee before the game that I’m going to look for the quick, free kick. The opportunity was there. I saw the keeper on the post and I just took it.”
In the region quarterfinals, the Vikings had played perhaps their best game all season, beating Bloomingdale 3-0.
Against the Cougars, Northeast had trouble putting together chances in the first half. Countryside had enough offense to take the lead on a goal by Jared Narvitz.
“We’re always worried whenever you fall behind,” Vikings coach Thomas Blauvelt said. “But we’ve been tinkering with this thing all season. Everything came into focus. I told them all season we’re building our machine and I told them before the game the machine is done. It’s shiny and we fell where we’re at.”
With 10 minutes left in regulation, Milijan Milic scored to tie the score, much like he did in the district final.
“I was doing what I do best, which is work hard,” Milic said. “I just chipped it back post and it happened (on the tying goal). We were confident our attack was better than theirs and we just kept coming at them.”
In overtime, Ikanovic ended it with his 34th goal to set the school’s single-season scoring record. The previous record holder, Asmir Pervan, coached Ikanovic in youth soccer.
Northeast has won conference and district titles in Blauvelt’s 18th and final season. On Tuesday, the Vikings will try to advance to the state semifinals.
“It’s pretty neat, isn’t it?” Blauvelt said.