NORMAL - Michael Tretter's goal with 42 seconds left Wednesday pulled Normal Community High School even with New Lenox Providence. Beyond that, it gave the Ironmen a significant boost heading into overtime.
"It was definitely going our way," Tretter said.
Providence coach Dan Potempa sensed it too, saying, "I watched our guys walk off the field with their heads down. I thought, 'This game is over.' "
Not so fast.
Providence regrouped in the five-minute break that followed regulation. The Celtics then used Kevin DeFilippis' goal with 5:04 left in the second overtime to post a 2-1 victory in the semifinals of the Edwardsville Class 3A Sectional at Adelaide Street Field.
"They came back at us with the same intensity we came at them at the end of the game (regulation)," Tretter said.
"They got a good goal at the end. We played our hearts out. There was nothing we could do about it."
DeFilippis headed the ball in off a pass from Connor O'Brien. DeFilippis also had scored with 25:15 left on a header off a corner kick by Brian Cichon. They were his first two goals of the season.
"It was a big day for him," Potempa said.
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NCHS (16-5-4) outshot Providence 13-10. The Ironmen had a shot go off the crossbar early in the first half, and late in regulation had two point-blank chances knocked away by Celtics' goalkeeper Alex Pickett.
Tretter finally broke through after a corner kick by Sam Napolitano led to a scramble in front of the net.
"Sam put the corner right in and it bounced around. Aaron Tipsord got a shot and it deflected off the keeper and it was right at my foot," Tretter said. "It was a whole team effort on that one."
Providence had a shot by Jeff Hayes hit the left post in the first overtime. As darkness crept in, DeFilippis delivered the game-winner in the second OT, advancing the Celtics (13-8-4) to Saturday's 1 p.m. title match at Edwardsville.
"I'm very proud of the way our guys played," NCHS coach Don Ideran said. "To keep playing with 42 seconds left and score the game-tying goal, that's pretty good stuff.
"I thought we pressed real well and we got rewarded for it. We didn't sit back and pout. We came out and played hard and kept playing hard. The kids have done it all year."